Even for people who are familiar with gardening, growing orchids can pose a unique challenge. These flowers tend to have a reputation for being finicky or difficult to grow. But as anyone with actual orchid growing experience can tell you, this isn’t necessarily the case.
Just by learning a few simple basics, you can confidently grow virtually any orchid with good results. That’s why I’ve compiled this list of “FAQs” to answer the biggest questions (and dispel a few myths).
Growing orchids is necessarily as difficult to grow as you might think. You just have to learn what particular needs your type of orchid has and then do your best to meet them. Each orchid needs different amounts of sunlight and water and none of them take well to soil whatsoever. So it’s easy to understand why growing them can seem intimidating. Just be sure to find an orchid whose needs you can match, and you should have no troubles.
It’s generally agreed that the best orchid for beginners is the phalaenopsis orchid, or “moth orchid”. These plants are resilient against beginner’s mistakes and have a short time to blossom. They’re also quite abundant and inexpensive, so you could even buy several in case you accidentally kill one of them (which does sometimes happen, sad to say). But nevertheless, they produce brilliant blooms that you’ll love. In general, they’re just a great plant to learn on when you’re just starting to grow orchids.
Picking a good orchid is similar to picking any other healthy plant. You want to make sure that the shoots and leaves look sturdy and healthy. Make sure that the plant is capable of standing up under its own weight and doesn’t look wilted.
If you can, check the root system to make sure it’s healthy and flourishing. Any roots that are mushy or look like twigs are unhealthy. Look for the presence of flower spikes to get an idea of how many blossoms you can expect your plant to have. (It can help to make a checklist before you go orchid shopping, so that you remember what to look out for.)
Keeping an orchid healthy is a complex topic, but in a nutshell, it all comes down to maintaining the proper environment for your plant at all times.
If it needs a lot of aeration, don’t keep it bogged down in a heavy mix. If it needs indirect sunlight, don’t put it right in the sun. When high humidity is a requirement, don’t put it somewhere dry.
Take steps to make sure that you know what the particular needs of your orchid are (there are several thousand unique types of orchids out there!). You can easily find how to care for each one at a local nursery or on internet sites like my OrchidCareZone.com blog. Also take care to watch your plant to observe how it responds to different techniques you try on your orchid growing adventures.
This is probably the most commonly asked question of all. Orchid growers can be a bit anxious about when their plants are going to bloom. Unlike annuals or perennials, orchids can sometimes take up to three years to bloom, and re-blooming after that can be unpredictable. This is why you need to take steps to find out the age of your orchid when you buy it.
Plants labeled as “BS” are ready to bloom within the next year. And those labeled “NBS” may take longer than that. Each orchid has a different time in which it’s expected to bloom, so for many people, the answer to this question is simply, “it’s just not ready to bloom yet”.
If your plant should be blooming, however, and it isn’t, then you need to make some changes to the care you’re giving it. Ensure that all of its environmental and nutritional requirements are being met. Sometimes a small change can make a world of difference to your orchid. And keep in mind that blooming requires a lot of energy and optimal health.
Hopefully these answers have helped shed some light on how easy it really is to grow healthy and happy orchids that you can enjoy year-round. And as every orchid grower can attest, once you get your first bloom, you’re hooked for life!
Mary Ann Berdak is the publisher of OrchidCareZone.com – a top online destination for orchid growing tips and advice. For more information on caring for your newly purchased plants, download her totally FREE report, “The 5 Biggest Orchid Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them!)”, at OrchidSecretsRevealed.com.