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.
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.
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-GroŽ 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.
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.
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.
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!