Caring for Orchids

How to Take Care of All Types of Orchids

Caring for orchids offers instruction on how to grow orchids to beginners as well as experienced gardeners. Includes growing orchids indoors, orchid propagation, raising, pruning and repotting various types of orchids.

How to Grow Orchids

Vanda Orchids Picture

Orchid Growing Tips

Growing Orchids for Beginners

New to orchids? Growing orchids for beginners will show you how to care for orchids so that they flourish in your home.

Although caring for orchids is widely believed to be too challenging for an inexperienced grower, this is not precisely true. There are at least 20,000 different orchid species and, while the majority of these would be difficult to raise in an ordinary household, there are a bakers dozen or so that are easy to grow at home.

These easy-care orchids are listed at the bottom of this page along with photos, brief descriptions and a bit of cultural info. If you want more information about a specific species, click on the bright blue link containing its name.

Growing Orchids Indoors

About growing and caring for orchids indoors. Choosing orchid pots. How to display these tropical house plants to their best advantage.

How to Care for Orchids

Purple moth with its roots dangling from the pot.

It is normal for orchid roots to venture out of their containers as those of the Phalaenopsis in this image have done.

Orchid roots need a lot of air; this is how they assure themselves of getting enough oxygen.

Orchid Propagation

After you've been raising orchids for a while, you'll want to increase your collection of these flowering tropical plants.

The two easiest propagation methods are discussed here: Dividing the backbulbs and separating the kikis (orchid offspring).

Orchids growing in clear plastic pots.

Potting your orchids into clear plastic pots will allow you to assess the health of their roots at a glance.

The looks of these containers can be improved by slipping them inside decorative cache pots.

Repotting Orchids

Although repotting or transplanting them is the scariest part of caring for orchids, it is not as risky an endeavor as most beginners make it out to be in their minds.

These orchid growing tips will make it simple:

  1. Orchid roots often grab onto a pot they have been growing in for a long time. Immerse the pot in a sink or pail of warm water for an hour to soften the roots so that they will pry away without tearing.
  2. No matter how gentle you try to be, you may still end up breaking a root or two.

    All is not lost.

    Use a sterile knife to make a clean cut just above the break. Sprinkle a bit of ground cinnamon (a natural anti-fungal) on the cut end and continue potting up the plant.
  3. In the case of an orchid growing in a basket, the roots will typically grow through the weave of the container making the plant one with its pot.

    Do not even try to remove it. Just slip the basket inside a larger basket and use moss to hide anything you don't want showing.

Types of Orchids - Orchid Varieties

White moth orchid in full bloom.

Phalaenopsis Orchid Care

The Phalaenopsis or moth orchid is one of the easiest to grow. There are not many pests that bother these epiphytic orchids.

Some moths bloom for months at a time. In fact, they can bloom themselves to death, so if you want to keep one from year to year, force it to rest after several months of non-stop flowering.

When caring for orchids of this species, keep them out of direct sun.

Caring for Miltonia Orchids

Miltonia orchids (Miltoniopsis) bear large intensely-colored, sometimes fragrant flowers that look like pansies. In fact, they are sometimes referred to as the pansy orchids.

Miltonias require high humidity and will not withstand temperature fluctuations. It is easiest to meet these cultural needs by growing plants of this genus in terrariums.

Purple and greenish white Dendrobium blossoms.

Dendrobium Flowers

Dendrobiums are epiphytic orchids that enjoy growing in a cool environment. The medium sized flowers appear on short stalks which arise from the tips of the plant's long, thin pseudobulbs. Most species bloom from late spring through early summer.

Give these bright light but protect them from strong, direct sun. Keep plants in a 60-70 degree F. room while they are actively growing.

Caring for Bamboo Orchids

The pink, purple or white daffodil-shaped flowers of bamboo orchids emit a lovely fragrance. This terrestrial species grows in soil and requires high humidity.

Nun Orchid

The nun orchid is so called because of its hooded blooms. The plant came to the U.S. from China in the eighteenth century. The flowers are large by orchid flower standards (nearly 5 inches across) and fragrant.

The showy rust red blooms march single file up the erect 4 foot stalks.

Grow this type in soil and give it filtered sun or use a grow light.

Vanda Orchid

The vanda is unusual in that the plant forms a single stem atop a turf of fleshy roots. Bright green, inch wide, strap-shaped leaves grow along this stem which can grow to a length of 2 feet. Periodically, a stalk bearing several large, flat flowers will emerge from the stem. The blooms last for several weeks.

Vandas enjoy brighter light than the other types of orchids listed here. It is almost impossible to give them too much light. It is best to grow them in hanging wooden baskets as their roots grow to incredible lengths.

White Cattleya orchid

Cattleya Orchid

This is the corsage flower. The large, fragrant, ruffled blooms are produced at the tips of the plant's pseudobulbs either singly or in clusters and last for up to 5 weeks.

Give cats bright light but protect them from direct sun and cold. They perform best when kept above 55 degrees F. year round.

Yellow Cypripedium flower.

Caring for Lady Slipper Orchids

Lady slipper orchids are called by that name because of the unique shape of their blooms. Part of the flower of a Cypripedium is shaped like a bedroom slipper.

Plants of the Paphiopedilum genus make better houseplants than Cypripedium species as those are cold hardy terrestrial orchids.

When caring for orchids of either genus, protect them from direct sun no matter where you are growing them.

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