Aren’t Orchids one of the most beautiful flowers in the world? With their soft, elegant flowers clustered on thick green stems and their roots sprawling out of their pots, these tropical plants are a must have for flower-loving gardeners.
I first fell in love with these gorgeous, jungle-like flowers when I took one home I had bought from the grocery store. It gave weeks of entertainment and the sweet flowers left my bathroom feeling fresh and bright. Tragically it didn’t last. I had tried to repot it and messed it all up! I even potted it with the wrong soil. Little did I know that those dainty flowers required dainty care. I was giving it the rough outdoor garden treatment I was used to giving all my plants. This one was different. After some research, I found that orchids need special pots, soil, and special watering. But don’t get scared off! This plant does require a little care, but its so well worth it! In fact, after getting the plant settled, all that’s needed is watering, and maybe a little bit of fertilizer. The watering is only once a week. Not too bad. The trick is making sure your orchid stays happy and healthy.
Would you like some quick easy tips to help you give orchids a chance? Please Read On Below.
Most people buy their first orchid at the grocery store. Consequently, the orchids are potted in a substance that retains a lot of moisture. Temporarily this is fine, but sooner or later your orchid will need to be repotted. (Do repot if the orchid is looking like its running out of room in the container it came in.)
I will run through (thoroughly!) all the aspects of caring for an orchid, from repotting to maintaining a healthy plant. I have included as many step by step pictures as I could. Enjoy!
*Note: I will explain how to water your orchid in a further step; but that doesn’t mean waiting to water! Please, scroll down a bit to find out about watering. I have put the watering part in bold print.
- When purchasing your first orchid, it will most likely be in full bloom. Beautiful, isn’t it? However, in a couple weeks the flowers will fall off; meaning its time to cut off those stalks. Taking a pair of bleached clippers (so as not to give your orchid any infection) cut the stalk(s) neatly about an inch from the base.
- When there seems to be more roots than the growing medium in the container your orchid is planted in, it is probably time to repot. Make sure your orchid is not in bloom when repotting is done. Purchase a pot specifically designed for orchids. The picture demonstrates this.
- Take the orchid gently out of its original pot; getting off all the old soil so that you will just have the orchid and its roots.
- Take your new pot (made for orchids) and fill one third full with *orchid dirt
- Mound the dirt with your hand, creating “pockets” for the roots to lay in.
- Take a look at your orchid. Any shriveled, dead roots or leaves? Take off with a bleached clipper.
- Now, splay the roots out and place in the pot; adding in more soil to secure your orchid. Leave the top one or two roots uncovered. Those are Air Roots
Now give your orchid a good soak. (This is how you water an orchid, folks. ) Place your orchid in the sink. Don’t get any water on the leaves! ( for now) or in the crown part- *(The center where all the leaves come out)
*Fill up the sink with lukewarm water up to the little holes on each side of the pot. If your container is a little different than mine, just fill it up to about a third of the pot.
- Let soak for 30 min. The water will soak up through the pot and the roots will get water that way.
- Once done, take the orchid out of the sink and set on a drip tray. * If your concerned about the air roots getting water, spray them with watered down orchid fertilizer. You can also spray the leaves, wiping away any moisture that might get on the crown.Getting water in the crown can cause infection( because the water would be just sitting in the crown and have no way of escape), but don’t be over worried. Just be careful to wipe away with a cloth any moisture that has collected there.
- If you feel your orchid is tippy in its pot, place some small wooden stakes in the pot, being careful not to poke the roots.
Here are my orchids after repotting!
I really love my orchids. You can get really attached to them, you know! I even named my orchids! The big one is named Marabell, and the little one I named Paisley. Do you ever have garden dreams? I dream about having lots of shelves to place all my orchids on; with UV grow light strips to place on each shelf. I would have twelve orchids and spray bottles. Maybe even a misting fan!
Now for the second part. Taking care of an orchid!
Taking care of your plants once you’ve bought them is what I’m all about. Personally I just love the thrill of watering a plant; sometimes I even like to sing to my plants! Did you know that studies have been done which have resulted in music having a positive effect on plants? It is rather extraordinary. I apologize; I am getting off topic. Lets get back to caring for orchids.
Orchids really don’t need much once they are all set up right, as in the steps shown above. The only things you must be cautious about are:
1.Sun exposure 2. WATERING 3. the RIGHT soil.
Let’s talk about sun exposure.
Like most plants, orchids are fond of lots of good, natural light. In fact, to tell if your orchid is getting enough light, check the leaves. If the leaves are a nice, grass green, the orchid has plenty of light and is healthy. If the leaves are pretty dark, the orchid will need
more light. ***Keep in mind that it may depend on the variety of orchid you’ve got. I think mine are phaleanopsis orchids.
Where should you place your orchid? I keep mine in my bathroom windows, where there’s plenty of bright, indirect light. They seem to do just perfect there.
Can you place an orchid outside to help it get light? You don’t want to shock your orchid by putting it in an environment its not used to. An orchid is a houseplant and needs to be kept indoors. If your house doesn’t get that much light, you might consider getting a grow light (a light that gives off special UV rays).
Now about WATERING
My number one rule is DO NOT OVERWATER ANYTHING. Overwatering spells death to your orchid! The roots of an orchid will rot with too much water. Above I had mentioned watering once a week, but with my orchids I usually decide when to water when the soil feels dry; and I do not always soak my orchid for only thirty minutes. Sometimes I water for an hour or more; since sometimes I skip watering in a week. That might all be little confusing, so if you’re a rule follower, you can water once a week for thirty minutes.
**also the watering method is the same as described in the above. (In the first part on repotting orchids)
How do you know if you are watering too much or too little? If the leaves look wrinkled and bright green or yellow, you are overwatering. You need to slow that watering down! If the leaves are droopy and dull in color; perhaps some leaves and roots are even looking shriveled, the orchid needs water.
I hope this helps on watering! *And don’t worry. After caring for your orchids for a while you will get a feel for what they need.
Now about the right soil. I messed up big time on my first orchid, planting it in regular potting soil. Don’t make my mistake!!! Orchids have a distaste for regular soil, as it does not allow their roots to breath. Did you know that orchids, in their natural habitat, grow in the jungle clinging to the bark of trees? I think that’s amazing.
So what soil should you use for orchids? Something with bark. My soil that I use has pumice rock in it and wood. The brand is Fertilome.
And I think that’s enough information to get you on the right track. Enjoy the privilege of having such an exciting plant to care for! These tropical beauties will last you a lifetime with just a little prep work from the beginning.
* If there’s any important facts/care tips I have left out about orchids, please let me know. I’m always looking for more information! 🙂
Best wishes in gardening!