Do you love growing orchids, but worry about how to take care of them? You’re not alone! These orchid care tips will walk you through five key areas so you can keep your plants in tip-top condition and enjoy beautiful blooms year after year.
We’ll cover the best places to put orchids in your home, how to water orchids, feeding orchids, how to repot orchids, and how to make sure those precious plants bloom again and again. We’ll also deal with common problems associated with indoor orchids, and tell you how to fix them.
Whether you’re searching for orchid care tips for beginners, or simply want to expand your orchid plant care knowledge, this article is for you.
How orchids came to be a favourite indoor plant
Originating from the lush rainforests of Asia, South America, and other tropical regions, orchids have a long and fascinating history as indoor plants.
Their journey into the hearts and homes of plant enthusiasts can be traced back to the 19th century when botanical explorers ventured into remote corners of the world, unearthing these extraordinary flowers. With their exquisite beauty and intriguing forms, orchids quickly captured the imagination of plant collectors and horticulturists alike.
As their popularity grew, dedicated enthusiasts and scientists started to cultivate and propagate orchids, leading to the development of innovative techniques for indoor cultivation.
Today, orchids have established themselves as one of the most sought-after and beloved houseplants, adorning windowsills, living spaces, and even office desks. Their delicate blooms and diverse colour palette continue to captivate enthusiasts worldwide, making orchids a cherished addition to any indoor garden.
How to take care of orchids indoors
Orchids have a reputation for being tricky to look after. But they are actually quite easy to take care of if you give them the right growing conditions and use the right products.
Read on for a wealth of orchid care tips that will help you give orchids the best chance of thriving in your home.
Where to put an indoor orchid
Where you put your orchid plant has a big impact on how well it will grow.
When deciding on a location for an indoor orchid plant, you need to consider light, temperature and air flow.
Light and indoor orchids
How much light does an indoor orchid need?
Indoor orchid plants need lots of light. Five to six hours is the minimum to aim for; more is great.
Should I put my orchid in front of a window?
The answer to this question depends on the direction that the window is facing. While orchids love light, they don’t enjoy direct sunlight. If the sun streams directly in through your window, you need to find another spot for your indoor orchid – or draw the blinds! Somewhere that provides bright, indirect light is ideal.
Is too much sun bad for orchids?
In short, yes. Direct sunlight can scorch orchid leaves, resulting in damage.
Can an orchid survive in a room with no windows?
As we’ve already established, orchid plants enjoy plenty of light. Lack of light will result in few or no flowers, so a room with no natural light is definitely not a good option.
Why does my orchid grow leaves but no flowers?
Lack of flowers is usually caused by insufficient light. Move the plant to a location that receives bright, indirect natural light.
Temperature and orchid plants
What’s the best temperature for indoor orchids?
Temperature plays a key role in the triggering of blooming for orchid plants. If you want to maximise flowers, you need to put your plant somewhere that provides the ideal temperature range.
Orchid varieties are usually split into warm, intermediate and cool categories. Here’s a quick guide to the ideal temperature for each category:
- Warm growers: 18-25°C
- Intermediate growers: 15-26°C
- Cool growers: 10-24°C
If you’re not sure which category your orchid plant belongs to, you can check the care label or look it up online.
Do bear in mind that orchids like a temperature drop at night. The room you choose should ideally cool down overnight, within the temperature range of the relevant category.
Can orchids survive in a cold room?
Most orchids won’t thank you for putting them in a room that regularly experiences temperatures below 10°C.
Air flow and indoor orchids
As with pretty much any indoor plant, orchids will benefit from good air quality and a healthy air flow.
If your orchid plant is in the kitchen, make sure it’s nowhere near the fruit bowl. The ethylene gas produced by ripening fruit can cause orchids to lose their flowers and buds prematurely.
Can orchids tolerate draughts?
Indoor orchids don’t like draughts. They can cause plant shock which risks flower, bud and leaf drop.
If you’re worried about poor air flow, you can use a small fan near your orchid plant. Make sure you point the fan away from the plant to avoid creating a draught.
Do orchids like humidity?
In their natural habitat, orchids grow in warm, humid environments. So yes, they enjoy humidity.
Most rooms in the house aren’t naturally humid, but when caring for orchids indoors you can recreate the perfect conditions for your orchid plant by using a *mister spray – more on that in the watering section below.
Is it OK to keep an orchid in the bathroom?
Bathrooms are an obvious choice for orchids, due to their regularly humid environment. Do be careful about positioning though; keep your plant away from open windows and near a source of good natural light.
Should I put my orchid in a bedroom or living room?
Other rooms in the house are perfectly good locations for an orchid plant, as long as they provide plenty of indirect light, the right temperature range, and a draught-free environment. You can boost humidity around the plant with a mister spray.
How to water orchids
Not sure how to water orchids? Follow these tips and you’ll get it right.
How often should orchids be watered?
As a general rule, you should water indoor orchids every week, increasing this to twice every week in warm, dry weather. Obviously the climate where you live will be a key factor here.
If you’re off on holiday and wondering ‘Can orchids go 2 weeks without water?’, the answer is yes. Orchids should be fine without water for 2-3 weeks, obviously if it’s very warm they will dehydrate more quickly than in colder months. Do make sure you water your plant as soon as you get home to avoid damage.
How much water do orchids need?
The amount of water that an orchid needs will largely depend on the temperature, the size of the plant, and how often you water it.
Should you let orchids sit in water?
Orchids really don’t like their roots to sit in a puddle. You should aim to keep the plant hydrated without flooding it to avoid root rot, and always grow orchids indoors in orchid pots with plenty of drainage holes.
How do I know if my orchid needs water?
If your orchid plant is dehydrated, you might see yellow or wilting leaves, and buds falling off. Dehydration can also cause aerial roots (which are orchid roots that grow from the stalk or out of the pot) to look wrinkled.
What do overwatered orchids look like?
An overwatered orchid plant can look very similar to a dehydrated one. Limp and/or yellowing leaves can be caused by overwatering. However, the roots will look different to a dehydrated plant. Too much water can cause the roots to turn brown, soft and bad smelling – basically, they are rotting.
How to water orchids with ice cubes
One popular approach that avoids overwatering is watering orchids with ice cubes. This involves simply adding an ice cube to the plant pot without touching the stem or leaves, and leaving it to melt. As the ice cube melts it will deliver a steady supply of water that the roots can absorb.
Do I water an orchid from the top or bottom?
You can water an orchid from the top or the bottom.
If you are watering orchids from above, use an *indoor watering can with a fine spout or rose to control the flow of water and prevent a deluge.
If you’re nervous about overwatering, you can water an orchid from the bottom instead. To do this, sit the pot in a shallow bowl or sink filled with water, and leave it to soak for about fifteen minutes. Remove the pot from the water and allow it to drain before placing it back in a decorative pot.
Should I spray my orchid with water? Do orchids like to be misted?
As mentioned above, orchids enjoy a humid environment, and you can create this indoors by using a mister spray.
It’s fine to use water in a mister spray, but you can also buy specific *orchid mist spray that contains essential nutrients to encourage healthy flowering.
Do bear in mind that misting will also water your orchid. You may need to adjust your watering accordingly.
Should I water my dormant orchid?
After an orchid plant finishes flowering, it enters a ‘resting’ or ‘dormant’ phase. During this phase, the plant is conserving energy and preparing for the next flowering phase, and o you should still water it as normal.
Feeding indoor orchid plants
Any plant that is grown in a pot will eventually exhaust the nutrients in the compost or potting mix. This applies to orchid care indoors as much as it does to any other houseplants.
The best orchid fertiliser is an orchid plant food that’s specifically designed for orchids.
You can buy orchid food in a few different formats. *Liquid orchid feed is concentrated and must be diluted; you simply add it to your watering can according to the label instructions, then water as normal.
*Orchid food drip feeders are a really convenient option, and ideal if you’re not confident about getting the feeding right or simply short on time. Drip feeders are opened, turned upside down, and pushed into the pot, where they deliver a slow release of nutrients while you water as normal.
*Orchid mist spray also contains essential nutrients and allows you to do two jobs with one product.
How often should you feed indoor orchids?
When it comes to feeding orchids, professional orchid growers advise the ‘weakly, weekly’ approach. This means you feed the plant every week, but with a weak solution of orchid food. So for example, if the packet tells you to dilute one teaspoon and feed monthly, you need to divide that by four and dilute 1/4 teaspoon to feed weekly.
This method only works if you’re using concentrated liquid orchid food. If you’ve opted for drip feeders, follow the instructions on the product.
Do tea bags help orchids?
Some people swear by using tea bags to feed their orchids. Tea bags can provide orchid plants with nutrients, including nitrogen and potassium which are key to plant growth. However, tea bags will also contain chemicals such as caffeine which can limit nutrient absorption and even damage the plant.
If you decide to use tea bags as orchid food, use cooled, brewed water as opposed to actual tea leaves.
Does coffee water help orchids?
Similar to tea, brewed coffee is a source of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous, so it can be used to feed orchid plants, but it also contains caffeine.
Orchid care tips after flowering
Not sure what do you do with an orchid after the blooms fall off? We’ve got you covered.
How to look after orchids long-term
The main reason we all love orchids is for their stunning flowers, but those flowers are not present all year round. To give an orchid the best chance of blooming year after year, you need to take care of it when it isn’t flowering too.
When do orchids bloom?
Orchids usually bloom in autumn and spring.
Do you deadhead orchids?
Unlike some flowering plants, most orchids won’t produce more flowers because you have removed some old ones. So if you’re only thinking about deadheading as a way to get more flowers, don’t bother.
The exception to this rule is Dendrobium orchids. Snipping off spent flowers will encourage more buds to form.
You might want to keep your orchid looking tidy, in which case it’s fine to remove dead flowers. To do this, you can cut them off with *snips or scissors, or gently pull the flower away from the plant.
Is an orchid dead if all the flowers fall off?
When an orchid finishes blooming, the flowers will fall off. This is a natural part of the plant’s cycle, and it doesn’t mean your orchid is dead; it has simply entered a resting phase.
If your orchid starts to drop flowers that are still fresh, there may be a problem such as draughty conditions, dehydration or overwatering.
What do orchids look like when they go dormant?
A dormant orchid will lose its flowers, and in some varieties the flower stem will also die. The leaves may look less green and glossy and could also become less upright.
What time of year do orchids go dormant?
Most orchids enter dormancy in winter.
How do you prepare orchids for winter?
To prepare your orchid plant for winter, you can trim flower stems, maintain humidity and adjust watering levels if necessary.
Should I water my orchid after flowering?
You should continue to water your orchid plant when it finishes flowering and enters the resting phase.
Do orchids rebloom on old stems?
Phalaenopsis orchids (also known as moth orchids) rebloom on old stems. Other orchid varieties rebloom on new stems.
Where do you cut orchid stems after flowers fall off?
If your orchid is a Phalaenopsis, you shouldn’t cut the stem off as it will rebloom on the same stem.
For other orchid varieties, you can cut the stem back once your orchid has finished flowering.
Should I leave the stem on my orchid?
If the flower stem is dying, you can cut it back to the base of the plant. Use clean scissors or *snips to do this.
If the flower stem is green and healthy (as it will be on a Phalaenopsis orchid), you can trim it above a node close to the base, or prune it about an inch above the node beneath the lowest flower.
How do I encourage my orchid to grow a new stem?
A happy orchid will grow a new stem more readily than an orchid under stress. Keep the water levels, humidity, light and temperature right, and your plant should reward you with new growth.
How long does it take an orchid to grow a new spike?
You can expect to see signs of a new spike growing within two to three months.
How long do indoor potted orchids last?
Indoor orchids can live for as long as 25 years. Obviously this lifespan very much depends on how well you look after them!
For each flowering season, you can expect to enjoy blooms on your indoor orchid for at least six weeks; some varieties bloom for a few months at a time.
How do you know when an orchid is dying?
Not sure whether your orchid is on its last legs, or just in a dormant phase? Here are some key signs that your plant is dying as opposed to resting.
- Rotting roots that look brown and soft (caused by overwatering)
- Discoloured or brown centre of the plant (caused by overwatering)
- Yellowing and/or floppy leaves (caused by under or overwatering)
Focus on each area we’ve covered in this article, and work out whether you’re providing the optimum light and humidity levels, water, feed and temperature for your plant.
When to repot orchids
Repotting is a key part of taking care of orchids. It’s a good idea to repot your orchid every two to three years, as orchid compost can break down and stop air reaching the roots. It’s also time to repot if your orchid’s roots have filled the pot, or if it stops blooming but all the conditions are right.
What soil do you use to repot orchids?
If you’ve ever seen an orchid’s roots inside a clear pot, you’ll know that they don’t grow in your typical houseplant compost. Orchids love a moist, free-draining growing medium. *Orchid compost or orchid mix is usually bark-based with an open structure that provides essential drainage, plus added nutrients to support sustained flowering.
How to repot an orchid
The best time of year to repot an indoor orchid is just after it has finished flowering, or when new growth starts to appear.
To repot an orchid, choose a pot that has just enough room for the roots – they like to be a little bit crowded. You can buy *orchid pots that are specifically designed for orchids.
Put a layer of gravel in the bottom of the pot, then fill one third with orchid compost.
Take the plant out of its existing pot and remove any dead roots, then put it in the new pot with the crown just below the rim. Add more compost between and around the roots, tapping the pot to help it settle.
Should you water orchids after repotting?
Yes. Water the plant and support with a cane if necessary.
And that’s it! All the orchid care tips you need to help your plants thrive
When caring for indoor orchids, remember that you hold the key to unlocking the full potential of these remarkable plants. With a little patience and understanding, you can nurture these beautiful plants into a gorgeous display of exotic blooms. With these orchid care tips as your guide, you’ll be on the right track to happy plants and an abundance of flowers. Happy orchid growing!