How to grow and maintain the orchid?

Our advice and tips for growing and maintaining a pretty orchid at home!

The orchid is one of the most common and popular flowering plants in the world! Its reputation for being difficult to grow is wrong… This exotic plant is actually easy to care for as long as you respect a few rules which will ensure regular flowering!

How to grow and maintain the orchid?

The characteristics and origin of the orchid

  • Type : flowering plant
  • Height : 0 to 30 cm
  • Flower color : red, yellow, pink, purple, white, purple
  • Name of the fruit : RAS
  • Desired exposure : semi-shaded
  • Soil type : well drained
  • Foliage : evergreen
  • Maintenance : moderate
  • Sanitizer : yes
  • Diseases and pests : mealybugs, aphids, mites
  • Varieties : Phalaenopsis orchid, Paphiopedilum orchid, Cybillium orchid, Laelia orchid, Vanilla orchid…

Orchids are tropical plants that belong to the  Orchidaceae family and are found everywhere on the planet, except in desert and semi-arid places.

Contrary to popular belief, these flowering plants are easy to care for as long as you follow a few rules which will ensure regular flowering.

Orchids are herbaceous plants of very diverse types. While their foliage is evergreen, their flowers exist in a multitude of interesting colors and shapes depending on the species.

In the wild in tropical areas, orchids are found in woods, wet meadows, dry limestone lawns and even on roadsides. They live attached to tree branches and draw water and nutrients from rainwater, atmospheric humidity and decomposed plant waste accumulated on the bark of trees. Rustic, many species are easy to acclimatize in our interiors. As a result, orchids are nowadays mostly grown in pots, indoors.

The different varieties of the orchid

There are around 30,000 different species of orchids! But those that we find most frequently in our interiors, and which are also the easiest to maintain, are the Phalaenopsis and Cybillium orchids  . 

Growing orchids in pots, indoors

The orchid needs a  lot of light , but it cannot stand direct sun , which could burn its leaves. It is then most often placed at the edge of an indoor window. In summer, and even more so if the window faces south, we protect this flowering plant from too bright light by placing a curtain or a light sheer curtain in front of the window.

The orchid likes warm temperatures between 18 and 23°C and high ambient humidity . She doesn’t like drafts or big temperature variations!

This exotic plant likes porous substrates composed of light and airy materials , capable of retaining water and supporting the roots, such as pieces of bark, coconut fibers or even pieces of cork. Specific substrates for orchids are then sold on the market.

It is advisable to repot an orchid directly after purchase to inspect its roots, check the condition of the growing medium and look for any signs of disease or parasites. To do this, you must:

  • Carefully remove the plant from its pot , and gently remove the substrate from its roots after soaking them for ten minutes in fresh water.
  • Prune dead roots . To identify them, it’s simple: if the root is firm, it is still alive, if it is soft or withered, it is dead.
  • Repot the plant in a pot of the same size or slightly larger . The ideal is to use a transparent plastic pot to regularly check the condition of the roots.
  • Little by little add the special orchid soil. Press down with your hand.

Good to know: The orchid likes to be cramped in its pot . No need to repot it in an XXL pot! You can then repot approximately every two years , when the roots no longer hold in the pot. 

Caring for the orchid

Although the orchid likes humidity, excess water is harmful to it. To water this flowering plant, it is advisable to place its pot in a small basin filled with water for 10 to 20 minutes before removing it from the basin and letting it drain well to remove excess water which could cause a root rot. We avoid watering the leaves and flowers and favor the use of rainwater or fresh water (but not hard water!). Regarding the frequency of watering, it all depends on the variety of the flowering plant. In general, watch the color of the roots of your orchid: they should always be green . For the Phalaenopsis orchid for example, the substrate must always remain a little moist. We will then water it once a week during flowering periods and once every two weeks the rest of the time.

The orchid needs fairly high ambient humidity, which is difficult to provide in a house, especially in winter. We can then place the pot on a saucer filled with gravel and water , ensuring that the bottom of the pot is not in direct contact with the water. You can also lightly spray the leaves of the plant in the morning.

In case of dusty atmosphere, wash the leaves from time to time, delicately, with a sponge soaked in beer.

Repotting every two to three years is necessary and sufficient for the orchid, when the substrate is decomposed or if it drains with difficulty, if the plant is too developed for its pot or if there is rot at the level roots. We choose a pot a bit larger than the previous one. If the stem is too long, you can take advantage of repotting to secure it with a stake. Please note, after repotting, suspend watering by spraying only the leaves, until the plant grows new roots and begins to develop again. 

During the growth period, the orchid can be given a special liquid fertilizer for orchids , every 10 days on average.

In summer , you can take the orchid outside and place it in a sheltered location , under a tree with light foliage. Be careful, we keep a plant inside that is ready to flower, with a fragile stem!

Making an orchid bloom again

The orchid can flower one or two times per year . You should also know that orchids give more and more flowers as they age. 

The first rule to follow to make an orchid bloom again is to provide it with all the care necessary for its well-being, in particular by providing it with the heat, light and nutrients it needs.

Also be sure to fertilize your orchid as soon as you notice the appearance of new roots or leaves. 

Once all the orchid flowers have fallen, only cut the scape if it is dry , cutting it above the second eye. If the flower spike is green, keep it to allow it to continue growing and bloom again. 

Combine the orchid well in the garden

Mainly grown in isolated pots, the orchid still likes the presence of other plants nearby. This is the case, for example, for green plants and ferns !

The different uses of the orchid

Its main use is ornamental . The orchid is not used in food except the genus Vanilla , whose pod is vanilla. Faham is used in the making of arranged rum.

Orchid stems and flowers are used in the design of various cosmetic products .

Diseases and enemies of the orchid

The orchid mainly fears root rot . Above all, be careful of excess water.

Aphids , mealybugs , mites and even thrips are particularly feared by orchids .

Orchid propagation

For the multiplication of this exotic plant, it is advisable to replant keikis , that is to say that we cut the new plants which form on the flower stalk in place of a bud, then cut them puts in the ground.