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Jude's avatar

What's the trick to taking care of Orchids?

Asked by Jude (32134points) March 6th, 2009

I live in an apartment which get lots of sunlight and my first Orchid took all of the three weeks to die. How often do you water them? Is too much direct sunlight not a good thing?

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14 Answers

Les's avatar
Here are some tips. I think orchids are one of the hardest flowers to keep at home.

VS's avatar

They must thrive on neglect, this according to the fact that my black-thumbed sister kept one alive for two years! She watered it only occasionally and kept it in a sunroom with lots of light, but no direct sun.

gailcalled's avatar

You have to replicate their original habitat, which are tropical rain forests – steamy, warm and damp with dappled sunlight. Check out Les’s link.

Jude's avatar


Jude's avatar

Maybe, a few suggestions for indoor plants that do well with direct sunlight? I’ve got a gorgeous rather large hibiscus that I’ve kept at my Dad’s. I can’t believe that it’s still alive. The new leaves are starting to pop through. It’s 3’ feet tall and it’ll look great on my balcony. =)

Milladyret's avatar

I have orchids, 8 of them, and they’re easy to keep! Hold them under running water in the sink for a few seconds once a week, let all the water drain from them, and that’s it!
When the flowers fall of you cut the stem down a couple of inches, and treat them as normal. A few months later: Tadah :D

But the trick is to be consistent, don’t move them around or change their routine to often. I’ve had mine for several year, and I love that they’re so easy to keep!

Good luck :D

gailcalled's avatar

@jmah: What zone are you in? How severe do the winters get? Hibiscus’ are great but have to be repotted and end up weighing as much as a grand piano. (How’s your lower back?)

Jude's avatar

@gailcalled: I am in zone 6b. Our winters are quite cold. My Dad is keeping the Hibiscus indoors, though (in his sunroom) and as I said, it’s still alive and kicking. You’re right about the weight, though. It took two of us to carry it inside. But, when it blooms, it’s a gorgeous dark pink. Lovely.

syz's avatar

It’s a myth that orchids are hard to keep, but you have to make sure that you get the right type for your environment. You don’t mention what kind of orchid you killed, but I have had great luck with Phalaenopsis and with Dendrobium . They both enjoy the same types of temperatures that we humans do (warm during the day, cooler at night) and so usually thrive in homes and apartments. They like bright, indirect light (if the leaves blanch to a pale green and have a yellowish tint, they’re getting too much sun). They should be in a potting media designed for orchids and should be allowed to dry out completely between waterings. If your plant is in a plastic pot when you get it, you should transfer it into a porous container to allow for rapid evaporation of water. You can use a mister to increase the humidity or set the pots in a tray lined with river rocks and a layer of water (while having wet roots is a death knoll for orchids, they do like a fairly high ambient humidity). My plants rebloom every winter and I typically repot after they’re done (some of them will keep their blooms for up to six months).

Jude's avatar

@syz It’s a Phalaenopsis and I am now thinking that there still could be some life left in it. The leaves (except for a rather limp one near the bottom) all seem rather green, firm and healthy. There hasn’t been a bloom on it for about 4 months now.

Should I continue to care for it? How often do they bloom?

syz's avatar

Get some orchid potting medium and a pot and then pull the whole thing out of it’s current pot. Knock off all all the old medium. Take a pair of scissors and cut off that limp leaf, as well as any roots that are soggy, soft, or gray – keep just the firm, green ones. Then put some medium in the bottom of the pot, set the plant down in it, and pack medium around it tightly enough to secure the plant (don’t treat it like a sissy, go ahead and pack that stuff down). Water it thoroughly (hold it under the faucet or dunk it in a bucket of water), let it drain, and then set it near but not directly in some nice, bright light. Water it every 1–2 weeks. You can use orchid fertilizer in the water, but I usually don’t. Mine bloom 1–2 times per year, usually in the winter. When the bloom spike comes up, you may want to stake it to keep if from drooping over. After it finishes blooming, cut the spike back to just above the last flower node and wait a while – it may rebloom from that same spike. If the spike turns brown and dry, go ahead and cut it off near the base and wait for the next bloom cycle.

Really, i just ignore mine in their sunny spot for most of the year, and bring them in and set them around the house when they’re in bloom. (I do water them more often while in bloom, it seems to keep the flowers around longer.) If you’re in an area without deer, you can even set them outside in some shade and forget them for the summer (just spray them with some water in dry periods).

Jude's avatar


gailcalled's avatar

@jmah; Keep in mind that syz lives in NC, I believe, which has a relatively balmy climate (compared to mine, for example.)

Jude's avatar

@gailcalled, I hear what you’re saying about how various climates would affect it. I’m going to read up on it a bit more, myself, I think.

Thanks everyone for the advice.

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