Orchids often get a bad rap, but we find that they are easier to care for than you may think. First and foremost, the blooms will not last forever. Expect blooms to last two to three months. This will depend on what stage of growth the orchid is in when you receive it. An orchid with buds left to open often lasts the longest. If your orchid loses lots of blooms or buds all at once this could be a sign of shock - usually a sudden change in the environment it's living in (cold drafts, etc). The plant is trying to redirect it's energy to preserve it's healthiest blooms.
The following guidelines apply to phalaenopsis, as well as lady slipper orchids... (we touch on other varieties in a bit).
Light | These orchids like bright light but not direct sun; east, west, or shaded south window is best. Dark green, limp foliage indicates too little light.
Water | Take care not to over-water your orchid plant. Check by placing your finger an inch deep in the potting mixture.* It’s ready for water when it feels fairly dry. If the mixture is bone dry, water thoroughly and check again in one week. If the potting mixture feels wet, re-check in a few days. If your orchid is planted in bark chips we recommend watering once a week.
* Make sure to not mistake decorative moss that may be resting on the surface, for the potting mixture itself.
To water, take the plastic pot out of the decorative pot and place it in the sink. Let room temperature water run through the potting mixture until it is fully saturated. Leave it in the sink to drain out completely before putting it back in the decorative pot — it’s not good for the plant to sit in water.
Using this watering method, you should only have to water your orchid approximately every two to three weeks. Timing will vary depending on the location in your home, the dryness/ humidity of the air and the size of the plant. Oftentimes our miniature orchids require weekly watering.
Although some swear by it, we do not recommend the "ice cube method." We find that placing an ice cube on the potting mixture every few days leaves your orchid thirsty for more.
Humidity | Orchids thrive at 50 – 70% humidity; to increase humidity, set the plant on a tray or dish with moistened pebbles.
Re-Blooming | We usually tell customers that there is a 60% chance of getting your phalaenopsis to re-bloom. As the blooms begin to fade, pluck them off the stem. Once all the blooms are gone, trim the stem back to the second node from the base of the plant. (Nodes are the little "bumps" that are seen on the stems).
You will be left with the leaves of the plant and as long as they are firm and green, you can continue caring for the plant as we've outlined above. Over time you will likely see new leaf growth from the center of the plant, as well as new roots.
After a few months hopefully you will see new spikes (stems). We recommend letting those spikes grow in whichever direction they like; new growth is often too delicate to stake straight up. This whole process takes patience, but in our opinion is extremely gratifying in the end. Why not pop in and buy a blooming orchid while you wait?
General Tips for Other Varieties |
Cattleya + Dendrobium orchids prefer bright light to 50% sun; east, west or lightly shaded south window is best. Water every 7-10 days; should dry out before waterings.
Cymbidium orchids like very bright light; up to 80% sun. Don't let them dry out totally between waterings; water approximately once a week.