Orchids are beautiful houseplants and a common gift for housewarmings, birthdays, and many other occasions. However, often the person being given this living plant has no idea on how to care for it. Therefore, learning how to keep orchids alive becomes one of the first things that they need to learn. Fortunately, orchids are not hard to care for. Once you learn what is necessary, it will only take a few minutes of your time to be rewarded with years of beautiful blooms.
Orchids are available in many different sizes, varieties, and colors, but most require the same minimal care. Orchids come from areas of high humidity and rainfall and thus require plenty of water. However, it is important that the soil they are planted in has good drainage or the frequent watering will not drain resulting in soggy soil and a drowning and unhealthy plant. Growing mediums that are great for orchids include bark (usually fir or redwood), sand, rocks, or specialized potting soil (look for one marked for use with orchids). This will allow you to water with the frequency necessary.
How frequent will depend on the humidity of your home. All you have to do is perform a simple check. Place your finger into the soil. If it is dry, add water. If it is moist, your plant does not need watering that day. If it appears soggy, you may need to water less frequently or change the growing medium to one that drains better. Your orchid should be allowed to dry out a bit between watering but not left long enough for the soil to become dry and dusty.
Orchids thrive on humidity. If your home is naturally dry, you may need to increase the humidity in the immediate vicinity of your plant. This is easily achieved by either misting the leaves of the plant lightly, placing a saucer of water beneath your plant (with pebbles preventing the plant from sitting directly in the water), or place a humidifier nearby.
Your orchid will require occasional fertilization if you want it to continue blooming with regularity. An orchid that is young and growing will need to be fertilized once every week or two, decreasing to once a month once mature. If your plant is currently dormant (no flowers or new growth) discontinue fertilization altogether until the plant resumes growth. Look for a liquid fertilizer that is specifically for orchids. There will be instructions on the package that will let you know how much to use for each feeding.
When it comes to light, indirect sun is best. All plants require sunlight to grow, but orchids come from dense jungles where they grow on the forest floor beneath larger trees and foliage. This means direct sun will be too warm and harsh for their delicate leaves. Placing your plant near a window but not directly in the sun’s path is all it will need.
These plants will die if neglected, but that does not mean that it is hard to learn how to keep orchids alive. In fact, they are quite easy to care for. Once you understand their needs – frequent water, indirect sunlight, and occasional fertilizer, you will find that their beauty far outweighs their minimal care requirements.