Orchid Care

Orchids have long excited and enchanted us with their seemingly endless array of colors, shapes and sizes.

The range is vast, encompassing more than 20,000 species and covering the entire scope of aesthetic tastes from dainty pastels to dramatic jewel tones. Just as the appearances vary drastically, so too can the specific care required for each type.

This page is simply a general guide for beginners. There is a large amount to be learned about specific types, but don’t let this discourage you from buying and owning an orchid of your own. Many people find success with just a basic knowledge of indoor plant care.

Orchid Terms

Epiphytic: Many orchids are epiphytic, which means they do not grow in soil. Usually they can be found in and on trees. They have many air roots that absorb the moisture they need from the surrounding air and prefer warm, humid temperatures.

Terrestrial: These are orchids that grow in soil in the wild. They are often cooler growing plants that can be brought out during the summer in mild climates.

Growing Medium This is what the orchid is sitting in, inside the pot. Often epiphytic orchids are mounted onto something, so they don’t need any growing medium at all. If you are going to have an orchid in a pot, you will need some kind of medium to support it. Usually bark is used, but all that’s needed is something that drains well and doesn’t stay soggy

Temperature: Most orchids prefer average room temperature-about 70oF. Most require a temperature drop at night of about 10-15oF to develop blooms. That change can be the most critical factor to reblooming.

Light: Most orchids prefer good light but not direct sun. They need about 12-14 hours per day in summer, 10-12 in winter. Additional illumination in winter can be provided with grow lights.

Water: Most orchids do best if the potting medium is allowed to nearly dry before fresh water is run through the pot. Allow the pot to drain thoroughly and never let it sit in excess water. Orchids can die if the roots suffocate from overwatering. It is usually better to err on the side of underwatering than overwatering.

Fertilizer: To encourage growth and bloom formation, fertilize every 2-3 weeks before bloom with an orchid fertilizer. Allow a period of rest after blooming until the new growth starts. Deciduous orchids do not need fertilizer when leafless. We recommend liquid fertilizer or special orchid food. ALWAYS water the plant before fertilizing to prevent root damage.

Repotting: Repotting should be avoided as long as possible. When the plant gets to be about 3-4 times bigger than the pot or develops many air roots out of the container, or if the medium gets rotten it is time. Repot after bloom, but before new roots start active development. Orchids tend to bloom easier and bigger if potbound and in large, mature clumps. Keeping them large and tight in their containers also helps to prevent over-watering.

Specific Orchid Genera

Cattleya “Queen of Flowers”

Cattleya “Queen of Flowers”

Originated in South America. An epiphytic, evergreen orchid that is separated into 2 groups: unifoliate (one leaf per pseudobulb) and bifoliate (two leaves). Generally the first group has bigger leaves and blooms.

  • Temp: 60°-65°F at night; 70°-85°F during the day.
  • Light: East or west facing window is best, with bright filtered light.
  • Water: Need to dry out thoroughly between watering.
  • Humidity: 50-80%.
Cymbidium Orchid

Cymbidium Orchid

Origins span a large area from India to southern Australia. They can be either epiphytic or terrestrial. They do well outdoors from spring to fall in shade, but be sure to bring indoors before the first frosts. Temperature is the most important for flowering.

  • Temp (summer): 50°-60°F at night; 75°-85°F during the day.
  • Temp (winter): 45°-55°F at night; 65°-75°F during the day.
  • Light: Morning and Afternoon (filtered) sun.
  • Water: Keep fairly moist, water heavily during growing season (Every 7-10 days).

See our detailed article on Cymbidium Orchids.

Houseplants for all seasons

From Aloe to Zygopetalum, we cover the alphabet with choices for your home or office; plants for your brightest window or your darkest corner, those that willa love the humidity near your shower or prefer a dry, sunny spot. Orchids, succulents, indoor bonsai and cactus. We have them all. You'll find our featured houseplants below. We carry our largest of houseplants at our Division location. This is only a brief list.