How to Care for Orchids Indoors - Everything you Need to Know
Orchids are beautiful and elegant flowers, perfect to create a unique decorative touch in any domestic space. But besides their beauty they are very delicate plants that require precise steps of care to keep it in good condition and looking perfect throughout the flowering period. Growing orchids indoors successfully can be a challenge for anyone. It requires time and patience. On the other hand, planting orchids is not as difficult as it used to be, there are more resistant hybrids available these days, as well as specialized media: pots, tools, and these tips will help you how to care for orchids indoors and make them look healthy and beautiful.
Orchid care for beginners
Caring for your orchid may depend on the type of plant you have chosen, however these tips apply to most orchids which are commonly available for purchase.
If you live in a country with seasons it is important to be aware of the fact that orchids can not survive the cold, so should you live under such climatic conditions you will have to keep the plant indoors. Generally an orchid should never be at temperatures below 9ºC or greater that 30ºc (86ºF).
It is important that you determine what kind of orchid you have so you can give it the perfect temperature for its particular needs. Some species may need a 10ºc (50ºF) difference in temperature between day and night to start flowering. These small details make it vital to know what type of plant you are caring for.
Therefore the first step is choosing your orchids. There are specialized nurseries and exclusive catalogues, but today orchids can be purchased anywhere; in large stores and even in certain budget supermarkets. However, shopping in a nursery is usually the best way if you are not familiar with growing orchids. The staff of a nursery is more specialized for issues on the health of plants and their general care. When choosing plants, reject any that have black spots or brown leaves, as they may be absolutely covered in weird and wonderful diseases. Yellowing leaves can also indicate poor health in a young orchid. Select plants with foliage for the first attempt green, this indicates a better chance of success.
Did you know that different colored orchids carry different meanings? If you're curious, read this oneHOWTO article on the meaning of orchid flowers according to their color.
Planting roots is also an option,as well as seeds and tendrils, although it will require a lot of skill, as the root will need to be dried out on a tray without direct sunlight and pot it properly in a container carefully with the proper proportion of potting mix and stones. On the other hand it is an experience to follow it as it grows.
Where to place an orchid indoors
An important element to care for your orchid indoors and keep it healthy is where you place it. Orchids are delicate plants that need to be kept in a well-lighted space, but without receiving direct sunlight as this can damage them. If the plant does not get enough light it is unlikely to bloom and the orchid flowers may become brown and take on an unhealthy appearance.
Try to emulate the natural habitat of the plant as much as possible. Most orchids grown indoors are epiphytes, commonly called air plants. This type of plant is often found in tropical climates, growing in the crack of tall trees. The debris and fungi in these spaces provide the nutrients that the plant needs to thrive. In the shade of the tree, the orchid plant is protected from the full force of the hot midday sun. To create more beneficial conditions for orchid lighting your home, place the filtered light, east-facing window is ideal. If the only option is a window in direct sunlight, a sheer curtain can provide the protection that the orchid needs against the sun's intensity. Some orchids thrive in high light and others in lower light, so get to know your orchid type to choose it's position in the sunlight accordingly.
Orchid watering and fertilizing
It is very important that the orchid receives sufficient nutrients. The best way to supply them is by adding fertilizers which are specifically developed for this plant. These can be easily bought in specialist shops. During the period where the orchid blooms you can also add special vitamins for to keep the plant healthy and beautiful.
Another key point in caring for orchids is watering, a factor essential for proper growth and maintenance. Orchids should be watered with bottled water with a low mineralization, tap water is usually too hard for this delicate plant.
It is advisable to water your orchid with a spray, always taking into account the time of year: in summer they need more water than in winter. The soil must always be kept slightly damp, if you notice the soil has dried you must water it.
We must take care not to overdo the watering of orchids as the roots may rot. To avoid this, and at the same time keep them moist, a good idea is to place at the base of the pot some clay balls dampened with water, this will help the plant remain in perfect condition.
Caring for orchids after bloom
Orchids need moisture too in order to feel at home in your indoor environment, a task that can be accomplished with a humidifier or placing a bowl of wet gravel under the pot. Just make sure you do not leave the plant standing in water, these conditions can promote fungus, disease, or root rot. When plants like potted orchids need water, give them in lightly. Normally, most orchids thrive when the roots are kept reasonably dry, so a porous pot is best, with a mixture of pine bark. A clay pot with holes slightly larger than normal drainage, can help provide the optimal drainage conditions. Watering should be done only when the soil is dry, the flower pot. Among the most common mistakes beginners make in growing orchids is over watering. Test the moisture level putting a freshly sharpened pencil in the centre of the earth. If the wood is wet when it is removed from the earth does not need water for one or two days. Learning to create an ideal environment for growing orchids is the key to success. While orchids may require more time and attention than the average indoor plants, satisfaction comes when you admire the beauty of its delicate and exotic flowers. What a wonderful reward!
Orchids require a climate with at least 40% humidity. If you live in a dry area it is very important to try and give this plant conditions similar to those it originally required. Installing moist ceramic balls in the bottom of the pot, placing a humidifier near the orchid or placing this plant close to other plants so that together they can generate a slightly damper climate can all help.
In addition, to care for your orchid and have it look perfect you must also offer it a little daily ventilation that should not be a strong wind as this can cause damage. Very closed environments do not agree with these plants.
Once the flower has fallen you can prune your orchid by cutting its stems from their base and like so get a new set of healthy flowers when the next flowering period arrives. This will happen in autumn, when you'll notice orchid flowers falling.
In order to prune orchids, you should trim one inch above the nodes found on the green spikes of your orchid, but cut to the base of the plant in those spikes that have turned brown.
However, you don't want a plant with no orchid flowers, do we? This is why many people ask themselves: how often do orchids bloom? Your orchid flowers will reappear in spring, as they bloom once a year, provided you maintain your plant during winter properly. To do so, make sure you keep the spikes perfectly neat by trimming it so that your orchid plant will have the proper energy to re-bloom.
Other fundamental aspects to be taken into account when you are taking careful care of orchids are:
- Choose a suitable pot according to the species of orchid. It is best to consult with your florist regarding the ideal conditions for the plant species that you have.
- The orchid's soil should have good drainage to ensure the plant's health. A soil mix made specifically for orchids is recommended as it brings together all the conditions necessary for the plant to grow. Avoid adding topsoil.
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- Orchids are very beautiful and delicate plants that require specific conditions and care to stay healthy and great. If you follow these instructions you will get your orchids to look perfect year after year.