Orchids belong to one of the largest plant families. There are almost 30,000 species of orchids, though most gardeners will likely only grow a handful of species commonly sold at garden and home improvement centers. These types are popular because they survive—and even thrive—within a typical home environment. The biggest tip for being a successful orchid grower is simply to not be afraid. They look exotic and fussy, but most orchids really aren’t. You can grow beautiful orchids at home. Here’s how.
How to Choose the Right Orchid for your Growing Conditions
Most likely you’ll be growing one of a handful of orchids that are easy to find for sale. Phalaenopsis, sometimes called “moth orchid,” is the easiest to grow and what you find for sale at the grocery store. It likes low light and humid (but not stagnant) air. An east window is perfect for these plants. Other types of common orchids, such as oncidium, dendrobium, vanda, and cattleya, need more light and will thrive in a bright east window or west window as long as the sun is not shining directly on the plants. Select an orchid type that will thrive in the light conditions you can offer. You’ll also want to make sure the room temperature is between 65° and 80°F, as orchids are tropical plants that require a warm environment.
How to Plant and Repot Orchids
Orchids usually come potted in bark or sphagnum moss. To repot orchids in your own container, carefully tease their roots free. Then fill the new orchid pot halfway with Miracle-Gro® Orchid Potting Mix Coarse Blend, which is specially formulated to provide just the right aeration and drainage. Place the plant in the pot and gently fill in around the roots with the mix, making sure not to cover the leaves or stems.
How to Water Orchids
Orchids grow best with consistent moisture. For home gardeners this translates to watering once or twice per week by holding the pot under the faucet and allowing the potting mix to be thoroughly soaked by lukewarm water. Take care not to let water sit in the leaves, as this can cause disease problems.
How to Fertilize Orchids
After a month, give your orchids extra nutrition with Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble Orchid Food. For best results, apply every two weeks while orchids are blooming, and every four weeks during rest periods, following label directions.
How to Make Orchids Rebloom
This is one of the biggest mysteries to new orchid growers! First, cut back the flower stalk to the first leaf after the plant blooms. Some orchid varieties will rebloom on the same stalk, while others will sprout a secondary bloom stalk at the end of the main stalk. Some plants take up to a year to grow a new flower stalk and rebloom. Many orchids respond to a period of cooler night temperatures in the fall. Try setting your plants outside as nighttime temperatures drop to fifty degrees overnight. Leave plants outside for a few weeks, and then bring in and resume fertilizing. Be patient. Your orchids will bloom again!
How to Help Prevent Orchid Pests
Good care goes a long way toward keeping pests and diseases from killing the plants or destroying the blooms. One additional thing you can do is to improve air circulation by placing a small house fan in the room where you grow orchids and setting it to rotate on the low setting. This will help keep bacterial and fungal pests at bay.
How to Grow Orchids: Recap
- Select the right orchid for the amount of light you have available.
- Pot up orchids in Miracle-Gro® Orchid Potting Mix Coarse Blend.
- Water orchids frequently with room-temperature water.
- Feed with Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble Orchid Food, according to package instructions.
- Be patient with plants, as they will rebloom eventually.
- Provide good airflow and proper care to help prevent pest problems with orchids.
Ready to start growing orchids? Click on any of the product links above for more information, to purchase the product online, or to find a retailer near you.