Indoor Orchid Care and Maintenance

Most orchids require indoor orchid care because few orchids can survive the temperate climate most of us live in. There are many benefits to indoor orchid care, however, including the ability to carefully control the growing environment and the chance to view these beautiful plants up close.

Orchids In Your Home

The key to successful indoor orchid care is recreating the orchid's natural environment. This is easier than it sounds, as the needs of cultivated orchids are well understood. The following are important points to consider as you care for your orchids:

  • This light flatters you. Your orchids will need plenty of sunlight. A south-facing window with indirect morning and afternoon light is best for your plant. In the winter, you may need to supplement existing light with a grow lamp.
  • Plenty of fluids. Too much water can strangle orchids-most species will want to dry out or become near dry between watering. Cattleya, Oncidium and Dendrobium orchids should be watered once a week by putting the pot in a sink and letting water drain through the pot for 30 or 40 seconds. Phalaenopsis orchids like things a little less dry. To determine when to water these plants, stick you finger or a pencil into the soil-the soil should be just dry, but still springy to the touch.
  • Something in the air. Orchids need a relative humidity of around 50% to thrive, but most home interiors (particularly in winter) don't provide nearly enough humidity. If your house is dry, consider placing a tray full of gravel under your orchid pot and filling the tray with water. Don't let the water touch the bottom of the orchid pot.
  • They grow so fast. Orchids need to be repotted every other year or so, as they outgrow their pot. If your orchid's roots dangle over the side of the pot or the growing medium is soft or drains poorly, it's time to repot. Select a slightly larger pot and be sure to use only orchid-specific growing medium.
  • Weekly, weakly. Orchids benefit from a slight but steady stream of nutrients. Feed your orchids weekly with an orchid-specific fertilizer mixed at ½ or ¼ strength.
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