Tips for
Growing Orchids Indoors

Growing orchids indoors is considered by some to be the supreme gardening achievement. Some think that raising orchids in the home is the province of master gardeners. But this is not true.

Orchids growing indoors at Selby Gardens.

Orchids Growing Indoors at Selby Gardens

In fact, many of the more common orchids make nearly perfect houseplants and require less care than plants grown in soil. They have no rival in the plant kingdom when it comes to their striking, exotic blooms.

Add fragrance to the contest and orchids leave other houseplants in the weeds.

There are two sides to growing orchids indoors: growing them and staging them.

You want to provide proper care to your plants so that they will remain beautiful once you bring them home. You want to stage them well so that they will enhance the beauty of your home.

A well-grown orchid in full bloom is a powerful decorative accent.

How to Care for Orchids Indoors

Purple Phalaenopsis Orchid - 4

Buy this Purple Phalaenopsis Orchid

This is simple. Orchids need 6 things to thrive:

1. Plenty of fresh air. Orchid roots need more air than the roots of soil-grown plants. Let the pots become almost dry between waterings.

Keep this one caveat in mind: Orchids with water storage organs (pseudo bulbs) can be allowed to dry more than monopodial (growing from 1 central stem) orchids like phalaenopsis which have no such organs.

The top growth of an orchid also requires good ventilation so keep the air in the staging area fresh. Crack a window or turn on a ceiling fan. You could also use a small, table-top fan placed near the orchids. Just avoid placing them directly in a draft.

2. The proper amount of light. Some varieties like a brighter exposure than others. Dendrobiums, epidendrums and oncidiums prefer brighter light than phalaenopsis, phaius and miltonias which will bloom well in a shady spot. Consider the available light when deciding where to place your plants.

3. Temperature. Orchids love warmth. They grow best between 60 and 85 degrees F.

4. Humidity. Hailing from the rainforests of the world, orchids enjoy higher humidity than most other houseplants. This is why they thrive on a bathroom windowsill where the homeowner takes steamy showers. Or in the kitchen window not far from pots of boiling water.

The dry air inside most American homes in winter can pose a problem for your orchid collection. This is easily rectified by running a humidifier or vaporizer for part of each day. An added benefit is that doing this will also make the house more comfortable for you.

5. Food. Orchids do not like to go hungry, especially while they are blooming. The general consensus among growers is to feed them "weakly weekly" with any proprietary liquid plant food. Adjust this schedule to fit your lighting situation. The more often you feed an orchid, the more light it will require.

6. A comfortable pot. If you provide the other 5 requirements, your plant will eventually outgrow its current accommodations. When lots of roots are climbing out of the container (a few is normal) it's time to repot your orchid.

Staging Orchids in the Home

moth orchids growing indoors

The best displays consist of one large plant or an odd-numbered grouping of smaller plants. They will need tables or stands to hold them.

When growing orchids indoors on pieces of furniture which could be marred by moisture, slip the plants into cachepots.

Coordinate the colors and styles of cachepots which will be placed in the same room. Also, choose orchid pots that match the décor of the room.

Orchids Strung into Chandeliers at Chelsea 2012

white orchids stung into chandeliers at Chelsea 2012
purple orchid chandeliers at the Chelsea Flower Show 2012

Orchids that are going to be grouped together look best if the flowers are the same color. Orchids blooming in one of the accent colors in the room look fantastic! They add an elegance and richness to the décor that no other accent can match.

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More Orchid Care Basics:

The Beautiful Nun Orchid Grows in Soil

Growing Orchids: Tips for Beninners

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Your plant guides,

Selina and Tiny