It is not surprising that orchid care is somewhat more demanding than that of other indoor plants. Of course, most orchid species, including Phalaenopsis, probably the most popular orchid of all, grow as epyphytes on the trees of the South American tropical forest. In order to thrive in room culture, certain conditions must be created and some rules must be observed. We show you the most important at a glance.
Rule 1: Use orchid pots and the right substrate.
Never use normal potting soil for planting or repotting, but only special soil for orchids. It is particularly coarse-grained and airy, so that no waterlogging can occur. The right time for repotting is after flowering in spring. Be sure to shake the old soil completely out of the root ball before placing the plant in the new container. This should be, if at all, only slightly larger than the previous one. Also check the roots for rotten or dead parts, which you remove with a sharp knife.
The choice of the right planter is crucial for the good growth of an orchid. We recommend to buy special pots for orchids. Thanks to their porous surface, clay pots can help sensitive plants to regulate their water balance. More often, however, one sees plastic containers, often made of transparent material, so that one always has an eye on the roots of the plant. Some orchids, for example the genus Cattleya, do not tolerate moisture at the roots and must be placed in plastic baskets (we recommend the commercial ones for pond plants) for better ventilation of the root ball. Hanging growth forms (Stanhopea, Coryanthes and many more) are best kept in hanging baskets. The classic orchid pots are made of ceramic and strikingly high. They have an integrated step so that the plant pot does not stand in the water.
Attention: Not all orchid species are watered as usual after planting or repotting! Especially the Phalaenopsis does not tolerate this at all. Instead, spray the substrate daily with an atomizer of water to keep it moist. After two to three weeks you can water or dip the orchid normally again.
2. rule: Orchids do not tolerate water stagnation
Accumulating moisture in orchids leads in almost all cases to root rot and rapid plant death. Make sure that no water collects in the plant pot or the planter. If you water your orchids with a spray bottle, never spray directly into the plant, but only into the substrate or roots. The water can accumulate in the leaf axils or the heart leaves and rot there.
Orchids prefer their waterings in the morning. Only use room-warm water with very little lime. Take the trouble to decalcify your water if necessary – the beauty of the flowers will thank you for it. In summer you can also use rainwater. For watering itself, the showering off or the immersion bath have proved to be particularly effective. You can also spray your orchid with a spray bottle or use a plastic jug with a narrow neck. As already mentioned, you should only water the root ball and the substrate, not the above-ground parts of the plant. Which of these watering methods you choose depends on how much time you can spend on orchid care. What is important is that you water orchids differently from other indoor plants and allow the plant to drain off well after a bath before using it again.
Accessories for orchid care in our shop
Rule 4: Moderate fertilization for vital orchids
With the right orchid care, fertilizing should not be missing. For this special orchid fertilizer is recommended, which is available in the specialized trade. Orchids grow wild with very little nutrients – this does not change in the room culture. Highly concentrated fertiliser salts, which accumulate in the substrate, quickly cause the plant to shrink. Orchid fertilizer is usually very low dosed, but they can reduce the dose even further to be on the safe side.
It is also very important to remove withered flower stems regularly when caring for orchids. However, be sure to leave them on the plant until they are completely dry. Only then are you allowed to cut them back to the “green”. Leave the stem with at least two new buds in place and you will find a brief explanation of everything to do with orchid care in our practice video. Good luck!
In this video we will show you how to re-pot orchids: our store/Alexander Buggisch / Producer Stefan Reisch (Mainau Island)
Problems with scale insects? The herbalist advises this
Whether potted plants such as oleanders or indoor plants such as orchids: The scale insect infests the most diverse plants. René Wadas, a herbalist, will give you his tips on pest prevention and control: Production: Folkert Siemens; Camera: Fabian Primsch; Editing: Dennis Fuhro; Photo: Flora Press/Thomas Lohrer
I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide. I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.