Information About Orchids

What Is Salep: Learn About Salep Orchid Plants

By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

If you are Turkish, you probably know what salep is, but the rest of us likely have no idea. What is salep? It is a plant, a root, a powder, and a drink. Salep comes from several species of diminishing orchids. For more information, click the following article.

Sticky Substance On Orchid Leaves – What Causes Sticky Orchid Leaves

By Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

Orchid growing is an easy, inexpensive hobby for anyone. However, even the most experienced of orchid growers can encounter problems – one being a sticky substance on orchid leaves. Click here to learn about common reasons for sticky orchid leaves.

Orchid Buds Dropping: How To Prevent Bud Blast In Orchids

By Our site

Bud blast in orchids is when the flowers fall off prematurely, usually in response to some kind of stress. The following orchid bud blast information will tell you the causes of orchid bud blast and how to prevent bud blast in the future. Click here to learn more.

Odontoglossum Plant Care: Helpful Tips On Growing Odontoglossums

By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Odontoglossum orchid plants are popular among growers due to their interesting shapes and beautiful colors of the various odontoglossum orchid varieties. Interested in growing odontoglossums? Click this article to learn how.

Clamshell Orchid Info – What Is A Clamshell Orchid Plant

By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Clamshell orchid plants are highly valued, not only because of their unique shape, but because they always seem to be in bloom. Interested in learning how to grow clamshell orchids? Click on the following article for more information.

Planting Orchid Seeds – Is Growing Orchids From Seed Possible

By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Planting orchid seeds at home is difficult, but it?s possible if you have plenty of time and patience. Learning how to grow orchids from seed is tricky indeed, but we?ve provided a few basic details for you to consider. Click this article for more information.

Reasons For Dropping Orchid Leaves: Learn How To Fix Orchid Leaf Drop

By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Most orchids tend to drop leaves as they produce new growth, and some may lose a few leaves after blooming. If leaf loss is substantial, or if new leaves are falling off, it?s time to do some troubleshooting. Click this article to learn what to do.

Burnt Orchid Leaves: What To Do For Scorched Leaves On Orchids

By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Exactly what causes scorched leaves on orchids? Just like their human owners, orchids can be sunburned when exposed to intense sunlight. Low-light orchids are especially susceptible to sunburn. What can you do if you notice scorched leaves on orchids? Click here for helpful tips.

Egret Flower Information – How To Grow An Egret Flower

By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

What is an egret flower? Also known as white egret flower, crane orchid or fringed orchid, the egret flower produces strappy, deep green leaves and beautiful flowers that closely resemble pure white birds in flight. Learn more about this exotic plant in the following article.

What Is Orchid Bud Blast – What Causes Orchids To Drop Buds

By Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

Plants will drop leaves, buds or fruits to divert energy to the root and survival of the plant. Orchids are specifically sensitive plants. If you?ve found yourself wondering ?why is my orchid losing buds,? then this article will help.

Types Of Pots For Orchids – Are There Special Containers For Orchid Plants

By Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

While the orchids we purchase have probably never experienced growing wildly in rainforests, confining their roots to a pot goes against their true primal nature. Because of this, we must select pots that allow them to grow to their full potential. Learn more here.

Help, My Orchid Is Rotting: Tips On Treating Crown Rot In Orchids

By Liz Baessler

Orchids are beautiful, delicate, and very hard to grow in the eyes of some. It?s no wonder that orchid problems can send a gardener into a panic. This article will help with information about crown rot in orchids and orchid crown rot treatment.

Where Do Ghost Orchids Grow: Ghost Orchid Information And Facts

By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

What is a ghost orchid, and where do ghost orchids grow? Ghost orchid plants are also known as white frog orchids, thanks to the frog-like shape of the odd-looking orchid flowers. Want to learn more ghost orchid information? Click this article.

Calanthe Orchid Care – How To Grow A Calanthe Orchid Plant

By Liz Baessler

Orchids get a bad rap as fussy plants that are difficult to take care of. And while this is sometimes true, there are many varieties that are reasonably hardy and even cold resistant. One good example is the calanthe orchid. Learn more about it in this article.

Tips On Potting Orchid Keikis: How To Plant An Orchid Keiki

By Our site

Propagating orchids from keikis is a lot simpler than it might sound! Once you?ve identified a keiki growing on your orchid, there are only a few simple steps required to replant your new baby orchid successfully. Learn more in this article.

Native Orchid Plant Info: What Are Native Orchids

By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Wild orchid plants are beautiful gifts of nature growing in diverse habitats around the world. Get more orchid plant info and learn why growing native orchids may not be a good idea in this article. Click here for additional information.

Growing Orchids In Water: Caring For Orchids Grown In Water

By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Hydroponic orchid growing may prove the solution for an ailing orchid. The method is actually quite easy and fairly foolproof, requiring a few items and a little patience. Learn how to grow orchids in water with this quick tutorial.

Harvesting Lady Slipper Seed Pods – How To Collect Lady Slipper Seeds

By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Orchid propagation can be tricky, even for a professional grower. In the case of Lady Slipper seed pods, the plant must have a symbiotic relationship with a fungus to successfully germinate. It is possible, however, with a few tips and tricks found here.

Orchid Plant Diseases – Tips On Treating Orchid Diseases

By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Most common orchid diseases can be prevented or cured, especially is caught early. Just as with pests, it is important to monitor plant health frequently and act immediately. Click here for some information on common orchid diseases and treatment.

Flying Duck Orchid Care – Can You Grow Flying Duck Orchid Plants

By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Native to the Australian wilderness, flying duck orchid plants are amazing orchids that produce - you guessed it - distinctive duck-like blooms. Click this article for a few more interesting facts about flying duck orchids.

Controlling Pests On Orchid Flowers – Tips On Managing Orchid Pests

By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Pests on orchid flowers may be sap feeders or chewing insects, but the damage they do can reduce plant vigor and, in some cases, even kill the plant. Identifying the villains and providing orchid pest control in a timely manner could save your plant. This article can help.

Beginner Orchid Growing: Getting Started With Orchid Plants

By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Orchids have a reputation for being finicky, difficult plants, but many orchids are no harder to grow than your average houseplant. Start with an "easy" orchid, then learn the basics of growing orchids. This article will help get you started.

Orchid Water Requirements: How Much Water Do Orchids Need

By Liz Baessler

While they're not the easiest plants to grow, they're far from the most difficult. One key aspect is knowing how and when to water an orchid properly. Learn more about how to water orchids and orchid water requirements in this article.

What Is A Whorled Pogonia – Learn About Whorled Pogonia Plants

By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Whorled pogonia is a common or threatened orchid species that you are not likely to find for sale, but if you happen to be in a forested area, you might run across one of these rare native orchids. Click this article for some fascinating information about the plant.

Orchids After Blooming: Learn About Orchid Care After Blooms Drop

By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Orchid flowers are unparalleled in beauty, form and delicacy and blooms last for quite some time. However, when they are spent, we are left wondering what to do with the plant now. Click here to learn how to care for orchids after flowering.

Vanda Orchid Propagation: Tips On Dividing Vanda Orchids

By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Aerial Vanda orchid roots make Vanda orchid propagation a very doable task. If you'd like to know how to propagate Vanda orchids, then this article should help. Simply click here for more information on propagating these orchid plants.

Rhynchostylis Orchids: Tips On Growing Foxtail Orchid Plants

By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Foxtail orchid plants are named for the long inflorescence that resembles a fluffy, tapering fox tail. The plant is distinctive for its beauty and spicy aroma. Learn more about growing and caring for Rhynchostylis orchids in this article.

Rein Orchid Plant: Information About Piperia Rein Orchids

By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Rein orchids are known as either Piperia elegans or Habenaria elegans, although the latter is somewhat more common. However, most of us know this lovely plant as simply rein orchid plant, or sometimes piperia rein orchids. Click here to learn more.

What Are Bee Orchids: Information About The Bee Orchid Flower

By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

What are bee orchids? These interesting orchids produce up to 10 long, spiky bee orchid flowers atop long, bare stems. Read this article to find out what makes bee orchid flowers so fascinating. Click here for more information.

Swaddled Babies Orchid: Information About Anguloa Uniflora Care

By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Orchids are found in almost every region of the world. Anguloa uniflora orchids hail from the Andes regions around Venezuela, Columbia and Ecuador. Common colorful names for the plant include tulip orchid and swaddled babies orchid. Click here to learn more about them.

Christmas Star Orchids: Tips For Growing Star Orchid Plants

By Amy Grant

Star orchid plant is definitely unique. Its species name is derived from the Latin meaning ?one and a half feet? in reference to the long flower spur. Intrigued? Then perhaps you are wondering how to grow a star orchid. This article will help.

Terrestrial Orchid Info: What Are Terrestrial Orchids

By Jackie Carroll

Orchids have a reputation for being tender, temperamental plants, but this isn?t always true. Many types of terrestrial orchids are as easy to grow as any other plant. Read here to find out more.

Care And Feeding Of Orchids: Tips On Fertilizing Orchids

By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener

Feeding orchid plants is essential for vibrant foliage and blooms. Follow the parameters in this article when fertilizing orchids for best results. Click here to get additional information.

Dealing With Common Orchid Problems

By Kristi Waterworth

When growing orchids, it helps to know a little more about common orchid problems before you buy your first plant. Read this article to prepare for your orchid adventure.

Hardy Orchid Plants: Growing Hardy Orchids In The Garden

By Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden

When thinking of orchids, many gardeners envision the tropical types. But don?t forget about hardy garden orchids, like the Chinese ground orchid. Learn more in this article.

Vanilla Orchid Care – How To Grow Vanilla Orchid

By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Vanilla orchid care is very specific and each requirement must be met exactly in order for the vine to produce fruit. Learn how to grow vanilla orchid in the home interior. This article will help with that.

Tips For How To Make An Orchid Bloom

By Heather Rhoades

While easy to grow and care for, many people still wonder how to make an orchid bloom. After all, if an orchid won't flower, then it is missing the element that makes these plants so desirable. Click here for more info.

Caring for Orchids

With 30,000 different species of orchids, it is impossible to give general care and cultivation instructions. However, how an orchid looks can provide clues to its preferences for light, water, and growing medium.

If the plant has few leaves, or leathery leaves (like most cattleyas and oncidiums), it's likely the plant needs a high-light environment. If the leaves are soft and limp (like some phalaenopsis and most paphiopedilum), the plants are probably very light-sensitive, and should not be placed in a sunny south-facing window.

If the orchid has fat pseudobulbs, it should be watered sparingly, and should be grown on coarse chunks of bark or lava rock. If the orchid has no pseudobulbs, it may require more frequent watering, or should be grown in a more moisture-retentive growing medium, such as sphagnum moss.

Light: As a general rule, orchids are light-hungry plants. For best results, they should get 12 to 14 hours of light each day, year-round. In a tropical environment, the duration and intensity of natural light does not vary as it does in temperate climates. For this reason, you may need to move your orchids around, and supplement with artificial light to keep them happy during the winter months.

South- and east-facing windows are usually the best spot for orchids. West windows can be too hot, and northern ones are usually too dark. If you don’t have a good window location for your orchids, they will be perfectly happy growing under artificial lights. Orchids should be positioned no more than 6 to 8 inches away from a set of 4-foot fluorescent bulbs. Opinions vary as to the benefits of cool white, warm white, and grow light bulbs. The new full-spectrum bulbs are probably the best all-around choice. Some orchids with very high light requirements, such as vandas and cymbidiums, may need high-intensity discharge lighting in order to flower. For more information, read Growing Under Lights.

A tiny orchid trained to grow on a piece of bark.

Growing media: Terrestrial orchids, such as paphiopedilums and some cymbidiums, grow in soil. But most tropical orchids are epiphytes, which means that they grow in the air, rather than in soil. Their fleshy roots are covered with a layer of white cells called velamen, which acts as a sponge to absorb water. The coating also protects the roots from heat and moisture loss.

An orchid growing medium must provide good air circulation and permit water to drain very quickly. It must also give the roots something secure to cling to. Depending on the type of orchid, they can be happy growing in peat moss, fir bark, dried fern roots, sphagnum moss, rock wool, perlite, cork nuggets, stones, coconut fiber, lava rock or a blend that combines several of these materials. Some epiphytic orchids can also be wired onto slabs of tree fern or cork. As a general rule, fir bark nuggets are the most popular growing medium.

Watering: Most orchids can tolerate drought far better than they can tolerate excess moisture. Nothing kills an orchid faster than letting it sit in a water-logged pot. Without adequate air circulation, the plant will suffocate and die.

As a very general rule, orchids should be watered once a week. The growing medium should be allowed to dry out between waterings, and excess water should not come in contact with the roots or the growing medium. After being re-potted, most orchids will not resume active growth for several months. Water very sparingly during this readjustment period.

Specially designed orchid pots make it easier to keep plants watered properly.

Humidity: Most tropical orchids prefer humidity levels of 60 to 80 percent. With the winter-time humidity level in most homes hovering closer to 30 percent, orchid growers often use a humidifier, or set their orchids on rubber grids set in waterproof trays or gravel-filled trays filled with just enough water so it doesn't touch roots. Some orchids also benefit from being misted.

Fertilizer: Orchid-growing mediums provide very few nutrients, so orchids must be fertilized to sustain healthy growth. Use a liquid fertilizer, and dilute it more than you would for other plants. Fertilizer should only be applied when plants are in active growth. This means that most orchids should not be fertilized in midwinter, or right after they have been re-potted. Many growers use a 30-10-10 fertilizer, though others prefer 10-10-10 or 10-10-30. Misting your orchids with fish emulsion or seaweed extracts will provide micronutrients.

Potting and re-potting: Orchids are usually happiest in a relatively small pot. Plastic pots are preferred because when it’s time to re-pot, the roots can be more easily detached, or the pots can simply be cut apart. To ensure good drainage, you can fill the bottom inch or two of the pot with foam “peanuts.” Suspend the orchid over the pot, and gradually fill the pot with fir bark chunks or whatever other growing medium you are using. The crown of the plant should be just a bit below the top of the pot. Sometimes it's helpful to use a bit of wire to secure the plant until its roots get established.

Some orchids should be re-potted every year. Others may be happy in the same pot for seven or more years. As a general rule, don’t re-pot your orchid unless necessary. Orchids resent being disturbed. Re-pot if the growing medium has started to break down enough to reduce aeration if the roots are creeping out well beyond the pot or if new growth has unbalanced the plant.

Propagation: Propagating orchids from seed is quite difficult. Unlike the seeds of other plants, orchid seeds do not contain nutritional storage tissues. To grow, the seed must land where it will find a particular kind of fungi that can penetrate its root system and convert nutrients into a usable form. To overcome the odds, an orchid seed capsule typically disburses millions of microscopic seeds, which can be carried hundreds of miles from the mother plant.

To propagate orchids from seed, you must work in sterile conditions. The seeds must be grown in a gelatinous substance that contains nutrients and growth hormones. You must also be very patient. It takes months for the first leaves to develop, and, even then, they will only be visible with a magnifying glass. Roots appear even later. It will be at least three, and possibly as many as eight years before you see a bloom.

It is far easier to propagate orchids by division. But remember that dividing a plant means forsaking blooms for at least a year. Also, the larger the orchid plant, the more flowers it will produce. Small divisions take many years to mature.

Orchid Pot Materials

From plastic to mesh to ceramic and terra-cotta, orchid pots are made out of all kinds of material. Don’t be overwhelmed by the selection. As long as the pot has many drainage holes, it is likely a good pot for growing orchids. There are some advantages to different types of material. Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular.


Porous terra-cotta allows air and water to freely pass through the walls of these stone-like pots. Terra-cotta pots are especially popular with orchid enthusiasts.


Lightweight, nearly indestructible, and inexpensive, plastic orchid pots are available in all shapes, sizes, and colors. When choosing a plastic orchid pot, be sure to select one that has a large number of drainage holes for the size of the container.

Clear plastic pots are popular with some orchid growers. In nature, orchid roots are often exposed to light. Clear plastic pots mimic these conditions. These types of pots are especially helpful if you are prone to overwatering your orchid. A clear plastic pot makes it easy to see if the potting media is moist before watering.


Decorated with colorful glaze or artwork, ceramic pots make lovely additions to any room. If the ceramic container isn’t equipped with drainage, plant the orchid in a simple plastic pot and set the planted container inside the ceramic pot. When watering, remove the orchid from the ceramic pot to allow excess water to drain.


Woven plastic or fiber pots most closely resemble how many orchids grow in nature. These basketlike containers loosely hold orchid roots and potting media, allowing air and water to easily pass through. Mesh pots are best in humid environments to ensure plants do not dry out too quickly.

The Orchid That Owned Me

The orchid was a housewarming present from my grandmother. It came from a quaint flower shop down the street that is owned by a neighborhood family. This gave my orchid an advantage over those on sale in the impulse-buy section of the grocery store, whose roots are already dead while their disingenuous blossoms give the impression of life. Those poor orchids, in consumer friendly shades of purple and pink, lose their flowers in days. “The solution,” an employee at the grocery told me, “is to buy a new one.” At $10 a pop, business is booming.

Photography by Erin Boyle.

It was not only my orchid’s superior provenance, but also its satiny white blossoms webbed with a network of delicate fuchsia veins–a characteristic of some Moth Orchids (Phalaenopsis), as I quickly identified mine to be–that made it feel precious, an irreplaceable work of art. To imagine my orchid “swapped out,” the way that my parents used to conceal the deaths of my goldfish, stung like an insult. I settled the Phalaenopsis on my dresser in a warm patch of sunlight and accepted the mission with which I had been entrusted: to keep it alive.

Orchids are known to inspire obsessive behavior in their owners. In The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean, orchid hunters track rare varieties of the flower all over the globe with frank disregard for law and human life. Meryl Streep in the film version infiltrated a ring of orchid smugglers stalking the mythic Ghost Orchid, an endangered variety prized for its intoxicating pollen. And so it was that I drank the orchid Kool-Aid.

In consultation with several orchid-specific blogs and conversation forums, I’ve been using an organic brand of orchid food. This I mix with water, taking care with the proportions, and mist weekly over Her Highness.

Of those not already doomed in the checkout line, most orchids (I wince as I write this) drown to death. Though the orchid is native to the tropics, its roots need to be well drained so no water pools at the bottom of the orchid pot. For this reason, some orchid devotees un-pot the plants to water them in the shower. Un-potting seemed too risky to me. I err on the conservative side and water with ice cubes once a week.

Ice cubes melt slowly so the water has time to be fully absorbed by the roots. One cold day, I worried the ice wasn’t melting at all, so I wrapped it in a fuzzy plant-sweater. It was then that I realized our relationship wasn’t all about looks–it went deeper.

Months passed. The marbled pink-and-white petals had grown fuller than ever so that each flower was nearly the size of my hand. Their weight made them lean over voluptuously on their stakes. The leaves, which I sometimes polish, were thick and glossy enough to reflect the sunlight.

With these auspicious signs telling me I was on the right track, I started to get complacent until one day, I woke up to a dead blossom, and then another, and then another, until all the blossoms on one of my two stalks had perished. The flowers on the other stalk were still smugly perfect. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I had two options: cut off the empty stalk completely, or cut halfway and hope it grows back. I chose the latter.

The orchid was mocking my efforts, I felt. But the worst part about owning a sullen orchid was seeing the robust orchids growing in my dentist’s office, the lobby of a friend’s apartment building, and at a restaurant where I ate lunch. It seemed they were following me all over New York to remind me of my depressed orchid at home. They must just replace their orchids week to week, I thought to myself with unusual vitriol. The alternative was too terrible. Does everyone else know something I don’t, like an orchid conspiracy?

Luckily, it turns out that the plants go through life cycles, and blossoms naturally drop to make room for new buds. I didn’t have a mutiny on my hands, only a stalemate.

The past few weeks have brought a détente. There has been encouraging new leaf growth and signs of coming buds. Several luscious flowers are thriving on one of the stalks (except where there’s a small bite…what on earth did that?). At present, it seems my orchid care experiment will succeed, but if there’s anything Her Highness has taught me, it’s not to get too comfortable.

We’re obsessed with orchids. See more of our favorite stories:

Finally, get more ideas on how to successfully plant, grow, and care for orchid with our Orchid: A Field Guide.

Finally, get more ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for various houseplants with our Houseplants: A Field Guide.

Interested in other tropical plants for your garden or indoor space? Get more ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for various tropical plants with our Tropical Plants: A Field Guide.

Watch the video: How to Grow Orchids

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