Growing Healthy Orchids Indoors

Sunday, March 24, 2019

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Many orchids are rewarding indoor plants. Once a homeowner has succumbed and bought his or her first orchid, or received one as a gift, a few cultural requirements will coax the plant to flower again.

Orchids are far tougher and hardier than most people think, and are, by and large, extremely adaptable. There is a long-standing myth that orchids are difficult, if not impossible, to grow, especially without a greenhouse. With at least 20,000 species and some 100,000 artificial hybrids, there are some notoriously fussy orchids. But there are many rugged, popular, easy-to-grow types that adapt to the temperatures and light conditions found on the average home windowsill.

Orchids are different from other houseplants. Unlike ferns, philodendrons, palms and Swedish ivy, orchids do not grow in soil. Potting an orchid in soil is actually one of the best ways to kill it. Most orchids in the wild are not rooted in the ground, but instead attach themselves by thick roots to the sides of trees and on branches. Clinging to the bark, the plants absorb water and nutrients from the air and rain and whatever drips down the tree. They adapt and survive when rain is scarce, hoarding water in thick leaves, stems and roots.


In the house, orchids are grown in pots filled with chips of bark, stones, tree fern or some other loosely packed material which keeps roots well-aerated and permits water to drain quickly. Nothing kills an orchid faster than letting it sit in a waterlogged pot, since a lack of oxygen will cause the roots to suffocate and rot. Water orchids thoroughly, usually about once a week, then allow them to dry slightly before watering again. Orchids are better equipped to withstand periods of forgetfulness than they are to being overwatered.


Another difference between orchids and many houseplants is that in nature most orchids experience a big difference between day and night temperatures.

Orchids are usually classified as warm-growing, intermediate and cool-growing, with regard to their temperature needs. Many tolerate exposure to warmer or cooler temperatures without suffering damage.


Orchids are also classified into three other groups depending on the intensity of light they require — high (3,000-foot candles), medium (2,000-foot candles) and low (1,000- to 1,500-foot candles). Most orchids require plenty of light, preferably at least six hours a day. Many orchids can withstand more or less than the amount of recommended light, but providing more light enhances flowering potential. Conversely, inadequate light prevents orchids from flowering, although they will grow.


Orchids do not require abundant doses of fertiliser. However, to maintain healthy plants and see blooms on a regular basis, apply a weak solution of 20-10-20 fertiliser once a week. Each month, water with plain water to flush out any accumulated fertiliser salts. Peak of orchid bloom usually occurs between December and April.

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