Blooming beauty and benefits make orchids an exquisite flower. It is one of the best air-purifying plants that you can easily grow within the confines of your house. It removes toxins from the air and releases oxygen at night time which purifies the surrounding air.
If you are a beginner, you will simply adore growing them in your home. The orchid plant is easy to grow and care for. However, you must first learn the basics of growing an orchid plant.
Here is all you need to know to grow orchid plants indoors.
How To Plant Orchids?
You must prepare yourself for the failures and triumphs associated with growing orchids. Here are the steps you must follow to grow orchid plants indoors.
1. Species Of Orchid
Amongst all the species of orchids, Cattleya, Phalaenopsis, and Padhiopedilium are easier to grow. It is believed that orchids have more than 40,000 different species.
Phalaenopsis is also known as moth orchid. It is immensely popular among beginners. Different species of orchids have different humidity, temperature, watering, and light requirements. You must either refer to a local nursery or the internet to find out about such requirements and ensure the optimum growth of your orchids.
Most beginners have this misconception that like other blooming flowers, orchids must be planted in pot soil. Hence, they resort to the potting conduit. This decision will be exceedingly harmful to your orchids. Potting soil can even kill your orchids.
The majority of orchid roots need airflow which potting soil is inept at providing. However, they still need a type of soil that anchors the roots.
Hence, orchids benefit from a more porous and looser mix of soil. You can use bark chips, sphagnum moss, perlite, coconut husk, and styrofoam pellets as a potting mix. Use and experiment with the breathable and porous mix. It will be even better if you take expert help as well.
You can even purchase two basic kinds of potting mix that can work for most orchids. It is recommended to first add water and strain the potting mix and then uses it.
Fine potting mix
This type of mix is fit for slipper orchids, oncidiums, orchids with small roots, and miltonias. These types of orchids need moisture which can be retained by fine soil mix.
A fine potting mix must include:
- 4 parts of fine fir bark or coco husk.
- 1 part fine-grain charcoal
- 1 part perlite
Medium potting mix
This type of mix is fit for cattleyas, Phalaenopsis, and other mature orchids. If you are not sure about which potting mix you must choose, always resort to a medium mix to grow orchids before you try a fine one.
The medium potting mix consists of:
- 4 parts of medium gran fir bark or coco husk
- 1 part of medium grain charcoal
- 1 part perlite
3. Pot For Orchids
For orchids, you must use small pots. You must ensure that the pot has plenty of holes to allow drainage of excess water. Do not get decorative pots for the orchids since the glaze is harmful to orchids.
One of the biggest enemies of orchids is excessive water. Make sure to not over-water them.
Orchids like cymbidiums will require longer pots to promote the accommodation of their long root systems.
Here is a list of pot types that you can use as an alternative to clay pots:
- Wooden pots are constructed with rot-resistant wood. You must line the pot with sheet moss before adding the potting mix.
- Net pots that have wire mesh. They allow a breathable environment for orchids to grow better. You can even hang them facing windows so that orchids can get better access to light.
- Clear plastic pots allow better access to sunlight to the roots. You can even inspect the root system without bothering the orchid.
How to pot your orchid?
After you have found the pot and soil mix for your orchids, you must learn how to execute the potting process.
- First, you must remove the orchid from the original pot.
- Cut off the dead or rotting roots from the orchid.
- Divide the root matter into different sections before placing the plant in the pot.
- Position the most mature section of the plant towards the bottom of the pot.
- Newer growth should be positioned towards the sides of the pot.
- Next, you add the mix lightly in a way that barely covers the root system.
You must re-pot your orchids every two years. When you notice that the lower leaves have died, this means that you must do the repotting. You must also do it in case your plant outgrows its pot or its roots die.
How To Care For Orchids?
Here are the things you must consider to nourish and care for your orchids.
Most orchids originate and thrive in a tropical climate. Tropical climate involves good air, plenty of lights for at least twelve hours a day ( throughout the year ).
Orchids grow in temperature between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit ( or 18.3 to 23.8 degrees celsius)
A temperature drop at night or during fall and winter promotes new buds to form.
Many orchids prefer indirect light over direct. Direct light from the sun can cause some orchids to burn. On the other hand, if orchids do not receive enough sunlight, they will not give flowers.
You must place your orchids near south or east-facing windows. A west-facing window will provide too much bright light and a north-facing one will deprive the orchids of sunlight.
If your orchid’s leaves turn light green or yellowish, you can diagnose its sunlight consumption. Too much and too little sunlight consumption will cause such colorings to appear on them.
- The dark green color on leaves would mean that orchids are deprived of sunlight.
- The yellowish color on leaves would mean that orchids are receiving too much light.
Orchids adore being placed behind blinds or facing window curtains. This way they get plenty of indirect light.
3. Watering Cycle
Orchids need to be watered once per week. Orchids get killed by frequent watering than by not watering them enough. You must water orchids once per week and allow dry outs between the watering sessions.
During summers, due to more heat and longer days, the watering period must be made shorter.
Contrary to this, during winter, the watering period must be extended.
You must water your orchids for fifteen seconds and place them on a tray of pebbles so that they can dry.
You must be diligent in your care for orchids. Pay more attention to the plant and its condition. If the leaves are thick then you must water the orchid plant more than the defined amount.
Also, orchids require less water if they have bulky faux bulbs. The water requirement is not consistent. Hence, you should rather give your orchid less water than more. Never take the watering schedule lightly.
4. Fertilizer Use
You must use fertilizer on orchids at least once per week. The strength of the fertilizer should be weak ( dilute it to 1/4 strength). It must be a 20-10-20 fertilizer mixture.
Do not fertilize the orchids too often. If you do so, the roots will burn. Also, if you do not fertilize them enough, that will hamper their well-being and growth.
Fertilizer is necessary for the flowering process. Do not cut down on your orchid’s fertilizer demand. Also, do not go overboard with it.
Orchids have a great affinity for humidity. You must maintain the humidity of the room in which the orchids are placed. Orchid growers must regulate the humidity between 50% to 75% at all times.
You can do so by placing a humidifier near the orchids. A good alternative to a humidifier is a tray of pebbles filled with water.
Orchid growing is a detailed art, but not entirely difficult. You must learn about the orchid type you are growing in detail. You must water your orchid regularly and take care of it diligently. You must fulfill all the requirements of the orchid type you are growing.
Understand your orchid’s growing conditions and you will have nothing to worry about.
Caring For Orchids After They Bloom
Orchids demand moisture so that they can feel at ease in your house. Never leave the plant standing in water. Waterlogging can cause root rot, fungus, and diseases.
You can determine the moisture content by putting a sharpened pencil in the center of the earth. When the pencil is removed, if you find it to be wet, this means you must not water the plant. Do not water them for a day or two.
Water the plant only when the dirt is completely dry. Orchids demand your attention more than other flowers. However, you receive exquisite bright colored flowers in return. The blooms are exceedingly beautiful. The blooms also produce a divine odor that yields immense satisfaction against your efforts.
When the orchid blooms fall, you can prune the orchid then. For pruning, you must cut the orchid stem from its bottom. This way you can get a new set of healthy and fresh flowers when the next flowering season comes.
When you notice the orchid blooms falling, you must carry out the pruning process.
Orchid flowers reappear during the spring season. Orchids bloom only once a year. Hence, it is necessary to look after them during winter so that they can provide you with their beautiful bloom next growing season.
Make sure to maintain keep the spikes neat by trimming them regularly. This way your orchid can retain its energy to re-bloom in the growing season.
You must ensure that the plant’s pot is suitable for it with a good drainage system. You must avoid adding topsoil to the dirt mix of orchids.
Optimal Growing Conditions
The store-bought orchids are packaged in cheap plastic pots. Packaged orchids also have their roots packed in soaked moss.
This hinders and violates the essential considerations for the optimal growth of orchids. There is no air circulation around the roots. Hence, the plant cannot breathe and ultimately dies of root rot.
To prevent this, make sure to re-pot the orchid into a better pot. This way you can better maintain the required conditions for your orchid’s growth.
The roots of orchids are highly specialized organs. They are designed to absorb water and breath. Orchids never extract nutrients from the earth.
How To Re-Pot An Orchid?
As said before, repotting is required for orchids every two years. You must not attempt to re-pot a growing and flowering orchid.
After the bloom has ended you must go ahead and cut off the dead flower spike. Cut off the spike with a sterile snipper and then re-pot the plant.
Orchids must be re-potted in orchid-specific and specialized pots and dirt mixture. Best fit orchid pots have a broad drainage slit so that the water can literally run out of the pot.
You can easily get such a pot from a nursery. To re-pot your orchid, follow these steps.
- Remove it from the other pot and carefully remove as much moss as you can. Healthy roots are white in color and firm in structure. They also have a green growing point.
- Keep the healthy roots, and remove the shriveled, blackened, and rotten roots.
- Next, put the plant in the pot and fill it with the orchid dirt mixture. The plant must be firmly anchored into the dirt. With time, new roots will grow through the mixture and the plant will firmly set itself into the pot.
After you have re-potted the plant, follow through with the same caring requirements demanded by orchids.
Tips For Indoor Orchid Care
- During the growing season (spring) make sure to feed your orchids with a weak, liquid or powder, solution of fertilizer. This must be done every week.
- If you notice the yellowing of orchid leaves, you must change the conditions you have placed the plant in. You must continue to do so unless you have found the perfect happy spot for your orchids.
- During winter, you must keep your plant warm. Cut down the watering to once a month or so. Check the moisture level of the earth regularly. Never overwater orchids, especially not during the cold winter season. Do not fertilize it.
- It will be a good alternative to plant the orchids in a kitchen sink. This really soaks them down. It will not kill them unless you do not allow it to dry out later.
Tips To Rebloom Your Phalaenopsis Orchids
This type is one of the most popular species of orchids. Moth orchids have overtaken poinsettia to become the most popular potted orchid in the United States.
These orchids are easier to grow and care for. Its blooming happens only once a year. After the blooming, you must take care of it so that it blooms again during the next season.
They do not like frequent changes in their location. You must place them in that location which makes them the happiest.
The conditions best fit for Phalaenopsis orchids are:
- It prefers bright light that is filtered but not direct
- Moderate to a high level of humidity
- Minimal cold draft and warmth
You must build a good routine for your orchids as well. Alternatively, you must take your orchid and place it outside when the temperature falls into the 60s or upper 50s. This promotes the growth of flower spikes.
After the blooming process has been completed, you can get the flowers. When the spikes turn brown, you must cut them off.
Orchid flowers are fit for further reproduction. The blooms can attract birds and insects through their odor. They trap them by using a special fluid to allow the transfer of pollens from one orchid plant to another.
Many orchids follow self-pollination for reproduction. However, not all types of orchids do that. Some follow cross-pollination and their pollination process may vary with their growing condition
Benefits Of Orchids
Often, flowering plants are only fit for superficial aesthetics. However, orchids have a multitude of benefits. Growing orchids can be a tedious job, but the benefits are enough to satisfy you.
1 Air Quality
Research conducted by NASA clean Air Study proves that orchids encourage deep breathing. It absorbs carbon dioxide and toxins from the surrounding air. It helps you in sleeping and promotes better health in an individual.
2. Herbal Medicine
Orchids have been used in herbal medicines as well. It minimizes the chances of any sort of cardiovascular disease. It also heals other chronic illnesses.
Their aroma and beauty reduce stress and helps you to relax in your house.
3. Food Ingredient
Orchids have enormous medicinal properties. You can make your food healthy by using orchid as an ingredient. It is a safe option to use for curing a common cold, body pains, and fever.
Whether it be its stem, root, and flower, you can use all of them as a food ingredient. All of them are loaded with a multitude of benefits.
4. Weight Loss
You can reduce your weight through orchids. You must cut the orchid root and add it to a cup of water. Boil them together until only half a cup of water is left.
You must drink the orchid extract juice regularly. You will observe a drastic change in your weight. In just three months you can lose a considerable amount of weight.
Orchids are a great solution for those who wish to have a slim and fit body.
5. Orchid Extract
Like jasmine, rose and other scented flowers, the orchid extract is also used as a scented perfume. Not only this, the orchid extract is used in shampoos, lotions, conditioners, and many other products.
Their subtle aroma and medicinal properties make them a spectacular ingredient for beauty products. The lovely floral scent is thoroughly divine and satisfying.
The orchid extract used in medicines improves the respiratory health of asthma patients. You can also use it to cure allergies and wounds.
6. Overall Health
It improves your overall health through and through. When you keep orchids indoors, their unexpected benefits improve your overall health.
They are regarded to be a traditional China medicine in China. If you consume orchid roots with curd, it eliminates stomach worms. It cures infections, blood clots, and diarrhea.
Orchid leaves are also used to cure knee pain, muscle cramps, and arthritis.
With the right temperature, humidity, and growth conditions, your orchids will surely thrive way beyond your expectations.
Having orchids in your house is a great experience. Its benefits are enough to blow your mind. Of course, you will have to put in some effort to get these benefits.
Make sure to water your orchid and take vigilant care so that they can grow to their fullest.
Enjoy this bright, beautiful, and extremely helpful plant!
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.