Garden Guide: 3 tips for perfect orchids

Orchids have a reputation for being difficult to grow, but looks are deceiving. These unique houseplants are easy!

Alex Calamia

Jun 19, 2024, 9:58 AM

Updated 26 days ago


Orchids have a reputation for being difficult to grow, but looks are deceiving. These unique houseplants are easy! The most popular orchid is the phalaenopsis, also known as a moth orchid.
You’ll find orchids in the houseplant section at most plant nurseries (and even in florists and grocery stores). Each orchid bloom can last for 1 to 3 months before fading. When all the blooms fall off, the plant will focus on growing new leaves. In 6 months to a year, a happy orchid plant will produce new flower buds on the same stem as the original or send up a new flower stem from in between the leaves. Here are a few orchid tips:

Orchids don’t grow in soil

Most orchid plants grow on trees in the wild, so orchids will not grow in typical potting soil. There are two types of orchid growing medium, sphagnum moss & orchid bark. The best choice depends on the person!
Sphagnum moss stays wet longer and is perfect for someone who wants to water their orchid once and forget about it for a week or two. In fact, during the cooler months of the year, orchids growing in sphagnum moss might be able to go a month without water!
Orchid bark is basically chopped up wood chips. It lets in more airflow and dries out much faster. If you tend to overwater your plants, this is a great choice.
It's important to make sure your orchid has plenty of air circulation. Special orchid pots have extra holes on the bottom to ensure they get the water they need without staying wet.

Let those orchid roots crawl!

Orchid roots grow in soil and above the soil which makes them unusual in the houseplant world.
Their roots have an outer structure called velamen, which makes it possible for the plant to collect water from their soil medium and from the air itself!
Healthy roots are firm, bright gray or green, and should crawl outside of your plant’s container. They’re searching for a nice tree branch to mount onto, but are perfectly happy crawling around in a pretty container too.

Should you feed your orchid ice cubes?

This is a question I get a lot. Some people suggest orchid growers place one or 2 ice cubes in the pot with your orchid every week to water them.
This has pros and cons. The benefit with this method is it will prevent overwatering. The ice melts slowly and orchids love that! Ice cubes are cold though and orchids are tropical plants, so they typically don’t go well together.
Fortunately, orchids are resilient and don’t seem to mind the cold from ice cubes. Go right ahead and water with an ice cube it you’d like, but orchids prefer their roots and leaves to get a nice soaking in room temperature water (or rainwater if possible).

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