How to Keep Orchids Alive

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Orchids are incredibly beautiful and can easily add a touch of sophistication to any room, but how do you make them last? Since this exotic plant comes in over 30,000 species and 200,000 hybrids, you’ll want to chose a variety that is easier to care for, like a Moth orchid (usually stocked at grocery stores) or a Cattleya orchid (often used as corsages!), which tend to do well inside the home. Keep reading for tips on how to get the most out of your gorgeous orchid.

Choosing your plant

  • Think about buying an orchid that already has flowers, so you get the benefit of the blooms without waiting.
  • Make sure you have the right amount of room for your orchid to grow, and consider what size pot you have space for. Some orchids can get very large, so it’s best that you account for its growth if you end up with that type of varietal.
  • Know if the orchid species you choose does better in one of these three nighttime temperatures — warm, moderate, or cool — before you buy, since some orchids are more sensitive to temperature.

Watering

In general, an orchid’s watering needs vary by species, but orchids tend to fall into two categories:

  1. Keep the plant constantly moist, but never soggy or too wet.
  2. Keep the plant moist consistently during growing season, but when the plant is not in an active growing season, let it dry completely before you water it again.

To see if the plant is dry, stick a finger into the soil. Though, be more cautious about overwatering, because if the roots are soaked, the plant will start to die.

Potting

Make sure the orchid is situated in a fast-draining but water-retentive media like peat moss, rocks, cork, a bark-based mix, or potting soil. It’s not uncommon to have to repot your orchid somewhat frequently, but always use fresh media when doing so.

Temperature

Most orchids require the temperature to be 15 degrees cooler at night than during the day. Indoor orchids also need humidity, so try using a humidifier or spraying your plant with water to help it grow!

Fertilize

Your orchid generally needs to be fertilized one to two times a month, though you are better off underfertilizing than feeding too often. Choose a fertilizer that doesn’t contain urea like a 20-20-20 mix.

Light

Your orchid plant loves bright, indirect light. Try placing your plant in front of a south- or east-facing window for the best diffused light. You can tell if your orchid is getting enough light if the leaves are a lighter grassy-green color rather than the rich green seen in many other houseplants.

How long you can expect your plant to live

Flowers on a Moth orchid may stick around for as long as four months, while a Cattleya could lose its blooms in as little as a week. Once your plant drops its flowers, you can expect it to rebloom a few more times or only once within the year depending on the variety. If your orchid isn’t reblooming, it may need more light.