Orchids are some of the most commonly grown houseplants. Provided they have proper growing conditions, it isn’t difficult to learn how to take care of indoor orchid plants.
Most people enjoy the orchids available at supermarkets and nurseries while they bloom and then discard the plants. Or else they treat them like normal houseplants, over-water them and when they die, throw them in the bin.
You see orchids are not hard to maintain as long as you look after their roots and make sure you don’t over-water them.
The main thing to keep in mind is that orchids grow in jungles in their natural habitat – they like moisture. (Durban has a great climate for orchids).
Most orchids live as epiphytes or “air plants” hanging on to trees for support. Some orchids are lithophytes or “rock plants” growing on or among rocks. The remaining orchids are terrestrials which grow in the loamy detritus of the jungle floor.
Even though there are so many different types of orchids, like all plants, they require these three things to survive:
- Growing medium (bark and moss)
All About Orchids
The orchid family has over 880 different types (called genera) and over 22,000 species. These numbers are growing every year making orchids the largest and most diverse of the flowering plant families. The orchid plants with the bright, elegant flowers sold at nurseries, florists and supermarkets are likely to be hybrids. These rewarding house plants are relatively easy to care for if you take a little time to understand their basic needs.
When you bring your orchid home, it will likely be in a small pot. Prepare to re-pot it as soon as you can, so that it will live longer and bloom season after season. With proper care an orchid can be in bloom for months each year and can live indefinitely.
Caring for your Orchids
Orchids need ample water but should be allowed to dry out some between waterings.
Most orchids require moist, well-draining conditions. There are several types of growing media that can be used with orchid plants— bark, sphagnum peat moss, rocks, cork, etc.
A basic mix for growing orchids consists of coarse perlite, bark, and sphagnum moss. But ask at your nursery to make sure that you have the right growing mix for the type of orchid you have. The best orchid mixes promote healthy drainage and good airflow.
What Most Orchids Need to Survive
On a basic level, most orchids need the following to survive:
- A well-draining growing medium
- At least six hours of indirect sunlight (bright shade) a day
- Moist, but not waterlogged, soil
- Once-a-month fertilizer feedings (quarter strength)
- A humid environment
- Pruning, as needed
Indoor Orchid Care Tips
Fertilize orchids weekly or bi-weekly while they are producing new growth and decrease to monthly or bi-monthly intervals once they mature. Discontinue altogether once the plants go dormant.
Re-potting is normally done every other year.
Keep an eye out for signs of pests or disease. Orchids are occasionally affected by mealybugs, scale, and aphids. These can usually be washed off or treated with insecticidal soap.
Do not use regular potting soil for your orchid. It will suffocate the roots and kill the plant.
Position your orchid in a bright windowsill facing east or west.
Orchids usually appreciate misting with a spray bottle. If the plant has aerial roots growing up out of the pot, those roots will especially appreciate getting some moisture
What Kind of Orchid Pot Should I use?
Orchids do not grow in pots in the wild. We put them in pots for our convenience. As a result, we must understand how strange this is for the plant, their roots like to breathe and be free. You know, it is perfectly fine for orchid roots to grow outside of the pot.
At Household Plastic we have stock various ranges of orchid pots and planters, so pop in and have a look. Remember, orchids do not like ‘wet feet’ but they do very much like humidity.
Proper watering is probably the single most difficult aspect of orchid care to get right. But once you have your spectacular blooms in a beautiful decorative pot, you need to just position them right and enjoy.