Growing Orchids for Beginners

3 Steps to Success

New to orchids? Growing orchids for beginners will show you how to care for orchids so that they flourish in your home. Three important tips and answers to visitor questions.

The orchid house at Longwood Gardens.

The best advice I can give to you if you are just learning to work with orchids is this:

  1. Take it step-by-step. There are many different types of orchids. Each type has its own requirements, so there is as learning curve with each new type. Start with one kind. 

    I did not say one plant.

    I know you're all excited and eager to fill your home with these spectacular blooms. I wouldn't dream of attempting to restrict you to one plant. Buy as many vandas, dendrobiums or cattleyas as you like. Just don't buy multiple types or it will be a lot harder for you to keep them all healthy. 
  2. Start with something cheap! I wish someone had told me this when I first started growing orchids for beginners. I invested in a little of everything when I first started. Unfortunately, I didn't know how to care for orchids and those first expensive cattleyas and vandas I purchased did not survive my ignorance.
  3. Understand what your gardening style is. This will determine which orchids will thrive under your care and which will struggle to survive.

    Are you a nurturer or a neglecter?

    A nurturer lavishes her plant "babies" with care and attention. She may sometimes kill them by over watering them.

    A neglecter, on the other hand, doesn't pay too much attention to her plants. She has a hectic schedule and often forgets to water or feed. She tends to lose plants that are not tough enough to fend for themselves until she gets around to them.

    Be brutally honest. If you are not, you may invest in the wrong type of orchid. If a neglecter buys a plant that needs nurturing...

    O.k., I'll go first. I'm a full-fledged, dyed-in-the-wool plant neglecter. Because of this, every Phalaenopsis (moth orchid) that has ever had the misfortune of ending up in my shopping cart is toast.

Moth Orchid

Moths have no water storage organs so they need much more frequent watering than cattleyas or dendrobiums which do.

If moth orchids are allowed to dry out badly, they tend not to bounce back. Can you see why this would be a poor choice for a neglecter?

Jean, who lives across the street from me, is a nurturer. She does well with lots of plants that I struggle with. She has some beautiful moth orchids growing inside her screen porch. I do not see any dendrobiums over there.



I do well with dendrobiums, perhaps she does not. Orchids that produce pseudo bulbs (water storage organs) will quickly fail if over watered. These are the orchids that have the best survival rate at my house.

I also do well with vandas even though they don't have any water storage organs because I hang them outside in the trees. This is a close simulation of their natural habitat. They get the intense light they love and catch the rain and the morning dew. All I have to do is remember to feed them once in a while.

So, if you're a nurturer, start with a Phalaenopsis. If you're a neglecter, start with a dendrobium (they're cheaper and bloom longer than catts).

Beginning with just one type of orchid will make growing orchids for beginners a successful enterprise from the start.

Go from Growing Orchids for Beginners back to Caring for 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 the various species.

Go from Growing Orchids for Beginners to Home Page

Answers to Your Orchid Growing Questions

Click below to see questions from other visitors to this page...

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