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How to Keep Your Orchid Alive

Close up of a white orchid

Orchids are beautiful flowers that make any room look more sophisticated. They're also known for how easy they are to care for after you have all the right potting media and plant food. If you've never owned an orchid before, you may wonder how to take care of it so that it lives for years. With diligent care, your orchids can bloom flowers every year and can last for decades! The key to keeping an orchid alive is to follow the "Goldilocks rule" which means that there should not be too much or too little of anything. This applies to its lighting, temperature, food, watering schedule, and more.

Orchids are perennials, which means that they can bloom season after season, so don't throw away an orchid when the blooms are gone! By using this guide you can take care of your plant so it continues to bloom year after year. When you learn how to prune and nourish your orchids, you will gain the confidence to own a variety of this plant in different colors. To get started, find beautiful orchids of all types and styles in our lovely orchid collection!

How to Keep Your Orchid Alive

  1. What Type of Soil to Use for Your Orchid?
  2. Indirect Light
  3. Achieve The Goldilocks Temperature
  4. Food & Water for Your Orchid
  5. Pruning for More Flowers
  6. Re-potting Your Orchid

What Type of Soil to Use for Your Orchid?

Though orchids usually come in planters, their roots are stabilized in “media” like moss or bark, not soil. This is because they are air plants, the name for plants that get nutrients and hydration from the air and their surroundings. Media like peat moss and bark stabilizes the roots of the orchid and helps the plant absorb nutrients and water from them. When it’s time to change your orchid’s media, it’s easy to find replacements at a gardening store. Overall, orchids like stability. If there are too many extremes in their environment, they don’t do well, so take care to make their living space moderate and predictable.

Even though indoor plants aren't braving the elements, this is still a difficult transition for them. However, you can successfully keep your house plants looking good and thriving even after these changes begin. A change in growing habits doesn't mean that your plans are going to wither away and die. It just means that you need to adjust your care methods so that they thrive in their dormant state.

Indirect Light

Orchids do the best in indirect light. It's best to place your orchid near an east-facing window to get morning light but then avoid the direct sunlight of midday. Even air plants need some sun, so this low level of light is ideal. You may also put an orchid in a spot where the afternoon sun reaches if you veil the light with a sheer curtain.

When an orchid gets enough light, its leaves are bright olive green. When the leaves are dark, it's a sign that they're not getting enough light, while red on the leaves mean that there's too much light.

Achieve The Goldilocks Temperature

Orchids do well in moderate temperatures. Specifically, its environment should be between 60ºF and 80ºF at all times. Avoid putting an orchid in a place with more extreme temperature fluctuations like a windowsill, attic, or basement. These spots get the most direct drafts from outdoors, making them colder or hotter than your home’s average temperature. Improper temperatures can mean that any buds drop off instead of blooming, which can be quite disappointing. However, this is a preventable problem, so by being proactive you can protect your orchid’s beautiful flowers.

Food & Water for Your Orchid

Orchids are air plants, which means that they get some supplemental watering from the air. However, they still need hydration help from you. On average, an orchid needs to be watered once a week with lukewarm water. This cadence may be more frequent in summer and less frequent in the winter, so pay attention to the appearance of your plant. Overall, it’s best to water less than to overwater. If the media is staying moist, you are doing a good job. To help it not dry out too quickly, you can place some moss on top and spray it with mist if it dries out.

There are several methods to watering orchids. Some people swear by dropping one or two standard-sized ice cubes on top of the potting media once a week. Then, they let it melt and absorb slowly. You may also directly water the plant yourself with a narrow nose watering can. Just irrigate the media inside the rim and then water the circumference of the media, keeping the center dry.

Orchids thrive when they are given fertilizer once a week (except while they are blooming). An ideal ratio is about a teaspoon of 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer placed into a gallon of water. You should also skip the fertilization step once a month to clear the pot of extra salt that can harm the plant’s growth. For the best results, use fertilizer specifically made for orchids.

Pruning for More Flowers

Orchid flowers last between 6 weeks to several months, which gives you plenty of time to enjoy their beautiful colors and scent. Even after the flowers fall, you can get more flowers out of your plant. Here are two ways to do it:

  • For bigger, better flowers: Cut the plant’s spike at the bottom where the leaves are. This will cause it to grow another stronger stem and larger flowers in a year.
  • For faster regrowth: Cut the stem above the first bump (officially called a node) right below the lowest drying flower. This same stem may then produce more flowers in two to three months.

Repotting Your Orchid

For your orchid to be healthy, its bark chips need to be in good shape. This means that you must replace them when you notice any sign of decay. Orchid roots also grow, so you need to repot when the roots start to push up through the media due to lack of space. Both of these events happen every 1-3 years.

To switch the potting media, water the orchid to loosen it from the pot, then gently pull it out and wash the old media from the orchid’s roots. Use clippers to snip away any dry or dead-looking roots. Then, repot the plant in new moistened planting media, with the bottom leaves sitting above the bark pieces but 1/2 an inch below the pot’s rim.

Discover Orchids & More

Orchids make any place look more beautiful, and once you find a nice spot for them, they can thrive with minimal upkeep. They can even keep on giving you beautiful flowers for years when you follow these easy care tips! Find potted gifts from our gorgeous orchid collection and more at Urbanstems.

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