Do you have a beautiful orchid at home that you are not quite sure how to care for? Not to worry! We have created a comprehensive guide with detailed care instructions for 24 orchids. While these unique blooms are definitely stunning, they can be difficult to keep healthy. Read below to learn why they are so particular and how to keep them thriving all year round.

Orchids represent the largest family of flowering plants on Earth, with more than 25,000 species and over 200,000 hybrids. Their diversity is unparalleled due to their ability to adapt and the longevity of their lifespan. Fossilized orchids have been found dating back millions of years.

While orchids can be found from the arctic tundra to the equator, most cultivated species are native to the tropics. They generally grow high in trees rather than the forest floor which is why they require specific lighting and air circulation for healthy growth. If you take the climate of their environment and the location of their natural habitat into consideration, it becomes easier to understand the basic care requirements of orchids.

Orchid Facts:

  • Unlike many plants and animals, orchids can produce hybrids from two different species and also between related genera.
  • Most orchids bloom annually, but if well-maintained they may bloom more often.
  • Orchids usually remain in bloom for six to 10 weeks.
  • Many orchids deal poorly with re-potting, and usually will not flower for at least a year after they have been disturbed.
  • While many orchid variations exist, they share commonalities including bilateral symmetry, highly modified petals and extremely small seeds.

Orchid Varieties for Beginners

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Supplies for Easy Orchid Care

While orchids have been around since the T-Rex was still alive and well, the typical home poses some threats that mother nature does not. The most common reasons orchids fail to flourish indoors is dry air and over watering. However, you can easily turn your home into a tropical, orchid-friendly environment by using the supplies outlined below. You can find all of these products at your local hardware store. You may even have some of them at home already!

  • A HUMIDISTAT to check for moisture
  • A HUMIDITY TRAY to ensure high humidity, especially if you are placing it by a window
  • A FAN to increase air circulation
  • A SPRITZER to prevent the fronds from drying out
  • A THERMOMETER to ensure your orchid’s preferred high and low temperatures are not being exceeded
  • ORCHID FETILIZER specific to your orchid’s needs
  • ORCHID FUNGICIDE AND ORCHID BACTERICIDE to keep away unwanted bacteria

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Quick Tips to Help You Evaluate an Orchid

  1. Start with a mature plant.
  2. Buy from knowledgeable, experienced vendors.
  3. Examine the plant for signs of disease, weakness, or infestation.
    Signs of unhealthy orchids include:

    • Black spots or crust
    • White webbing
    • Limp leaves
    • Yellow leaves
    • Yellow or brown spots
    • Damp black spots
    • Torn leaves or petals with tiny holes
  4. Choose an orchid that matches the level of care you are willing to provide.
  5. Decide where you want your orchid and then pick a species that will grow in the light available in that location.

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Basic Care Requirements

Light

Orchids are very particular about light, especially indoors. Some prefer high light (unobstructed sunlight from a south-facing window) where others prefer low light (limited northern exposure).

If you are concerned about the amount of lighting your orchid is receiving, assess the leaves. Brown leaves indicate your plant needs less sun. Leaves that are deep green often require more light.

Temperature

Since most orchids sold as houseplants are native to tropical regions, they can be sensitive to drastic temperature changes. Pay close attention to the range your orchid needs. Both a high and low temperature should be maintained. The detailed care guide below will specify a healthy climate for each of the most common orchid types. For a simple reference, if you are too hot or cold, your orchid is likely too hot or too cold as well.

Humidity

Tropical plants are accustomed to more humidity than the average living room. In order to keep your orchid healthy, place your potted plant on top of pebbles and add water. Air flow is also very important. Try adding a fan to the room if you notice your orchid deteriorating.

Watering orchids

Orchids need to be watered differently than most plants because they are often planted in a bark mix rather than soil. Watering needs also depend on the type of orchid, pot, potting mix, humidity levels and light. Be sure to water thoroughly each time so the roots have a chance to absorb the moisture before it runs through the mix.

As a rule of thumb, drought-tolerant orchids, such as cattleyas, oncidiums and dendrobiums only need to be watered once a week. Other species should be watered every 4-5 days.

When watering, it is sometimes easiest to place the plant in the sink, letting room temperature water run over it for a minute or so. Leave time for it to drain completely and avoid distilled or salt-softened water.

Fertilizing Orchids

Similar to the other important care factors, fertilizing is specific to each species. Generally, fertilizer only needs to be added during active growth.

 

Care requirements for 25 orchid species are outlined below. We hope this guide helps you keep all of your orchids fresh and healthy all year long. Love your orchids? Gift them to a friend and share this resource so they can keep their orchids blooming too!

24 Most Common Orchid Species and Their Care Requirements

1. Cymbidium

Light

Filtered Light

Soil

Medium or fine fir bark mixed with peat moss or perlite

Temperature

These orchids have varying temperature needs throughout the year. Temperatures need to fall to about 45-55°F in order to trigger winter blooms. Watch for temperatures above 85°F, which can cause the leaves to burn.

Water

Water in the morning to allow plenty of moisture to drain before temperatures cool. Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings to prevent sogginess. Watering amounts depend on the temperature. Be sure to water less during the winter and more in the summer.

Fertilizer

Cymbidium orchids don’t require a ton of additional nutrients. Adding slow-release fertilizer pellets to the potting soil at the beginning of the season is enough for good results. Choose a balanced fertilizer and use only when plants are actively growing.

2. Anthurium

Light

Bright, Indirect Light

Soil

Coarse, free-draining soil like a 50-50 mix of potting and orchid soil

Temperature

These plants prefer moderate to warm temperatures, about 70-90°F. Anthuriums do not tolerate frost or freezing temperatures. They do best when kept indoors.

Water

Soak the entire pot in water for 15-20 minutes to ensure the water reaches the roots, but be sure to drain afterwards. Allow the soil to become dry to the touch before watering again.

Fertilizer

Give your anthurium nutrients by feeding it with a diluted high-phosphorus liquid fertilizer every other month. Fertilize only when the plant is actively growing.

3. Phalaenopsis

Light

Medium to Bright Indirect Light

Soil

Well draining potting medium like fine-grade orchid bark or orchid mix

Temperature

During the day they thrive in mild temperatures between 68-85°F. At night they will tolerate slightly cooler environments but the temperature needs to remain steady when in bloom. Chilly temperatures or drafty areas can cause flowers and buds to drop.

Water

Water once a week and allow potting mix to almost dry out between waterings. Do not let it stand in water.

Fertilizer

Apply Phalaenopsis fertilizer at one-quarter strength with every other watering when orchid is not in bloom. Fertilizer can also be used to encourage blooming.

4. Dendrobium

Light

Morning Sun (can be direct), Afternoon Shade

Soil

Well draining potting medium like fine-grade orchid bark or orchid mix

Temperature

During the day they thrive in mild temperatures between 68-85°F. At night they will tolerate slightly cooler environments, but the temperature needs to remain steady when in bloom. Chilly temperatures or drafty areas can cause flowers and buds to drop.

Water

Water once a week and allow potting mix to almost dry out between watering. Do not let it stand in water.

Fertilizer

When your orchid is blooming, fertilizer is not needed. During the summer, add a balanced fertilizer with every other watering. Stop fertilizing in fall. If no new growth appears by January, consider a high phosphorus fertilizer to promote blooms.

5. Cattleya

Light

Morning Sun (can be direct), Afternoon Shade

Soil

Coarse medium such as medium-grade fir bark

Temperature

During the day they thrive in mild temperatures below 85°F. At night they prefer slightly cooler environments. Occasional temperature extremes are tolerated if exposure is not prolonged.

Water

Allow the potting medium to become dry between waterings. In nature, these plants grow in tree tops meaning they are used to drying out between rain.

Fertilizer

High nitrogen fertilizers can be used year-round at one teaspoon per gallon of water. Feed once a month.

6. Vanda

Light

Morning Sun (can be direct), Afternoon Shade

Soil

Coarse medium such as medium-grade fir bark

Temperature

During the day they thrive in mild temperatures between below 85°F. At night they prefer slightly cooler environments. Occasional temperature extremes are tolerated if exposure is not prolonged.

Water

In nature, these plants grow in tree tops, where they often dry out between periods of rain. When watering, allow the potting medium to dry before watering again.

Fertilizer

High nitrogen fertilizers can be used all year round. Mix one teaspoon with one gallon of water, and fertilize with this mixture once a month.

7. Paphiopedilum

Light

Low Light

Soil

Medium or fine fir bark mixed with peat moss or perlite

Temperature

If the plant has mottled leaves, make sure the temperature remains between 60-80°F. The more common Pahpiopedilums without mottled leaves can endure consistent temperatures as low as 50°F.

Water

Water every 5 days. Check periodically to see if the top feels dry, and be sure not to over water.

Fertilizer

Paphiopedilum require little fertilizing. If the plant is in bark, use high nitrogen fertilizer during growing season. Otherwise use a balanced fertilizer every other week in half strength, and make sure to flush the fertilizer with clear water once a month.

8. Oncidium

Light

Morning Sun (can be direct), Afternoon Shade

Soil

Well draining potting medium like fine-grade bark or orchid mix

Temperature

These orchids can withstand temperature between 55-85°F. Oncidiums can tolerate more heat if there is sufficient air movement.

Water

This plant does not adhere to a watering schedule. Check water levels by pushing a popsicle stick to test for moisture. Watering needs can change from every other day to biweekly depending on the growing season.

Fertilizer

If the orchid is planted in bark use high nitrogen fertilizer during growing season. Otherwise use a balanced fertilizer diluted to half strength every other week, and make sure to flush the fertilizer with clear water once a month. Fertilize more during sunny conditions.

9. Miltonia

Light

Bright, Indirect Light

Soil

Well draining potting medium like fine-grade bark or orchid mix

Temperature

During the day they thrive in mild temperatures below 85°F. At night they will tolerate slightly cooler environments. Occasional temperature extremes are tolerated if exposure is not prolonged.

Water

Miltonia grows throughout the entire year, and requires more frequent watering. Typcally, it can be watered once weekly during the winter and twice during the summer.

Fertilizer

High nitrogen fertilizers can be used year-round at one teaspoon per gallon of water. Fertilize once a month.

10. Odontoglossum

Light

Filtered, Low Light

Soil

Well draining potting medium like fine-grade bark or orchid mix

Temperature

During the day they thrive in mild temperatures between 75-85°F. At night they will tolerate slightly cooler environments.

Water

Allow the plant to dry between waterings. Be sure to water more often when growing.

Fertilizer

Fertilize your plants at least once a month with orchid fertilizer.

11. Vuylstekeara

Light

Filtered, Low Light

Soil

Medium to fine fir bark

Temperature

During the day they thrive in mild temperatures between 75-85°F. At night they will tolerate slightly cooler environments.

Water

Allow the plant to dry between waterings. Be sure to water more often when growing.

Fertilizer

Fertilize your plants at least once a month with orchid fertilizer.

12. Zygopetalum

Light

Morning and Afternoon Sun, Midday Shade

Soil

Well draining potting medium like fine-grade bark or orchid mix

Temperature

Zygopetalum orchids can thrive in summer heat and cooler winters as long as the plant is climatized. Once the plant spikes or flowers, it should be protected from temperatures below 35°F. Always keep these plants free from frost.

Water

The plant should be watered about every 7-10 days. Be sure to prevent the bark from becomming completely dry, and don't overwater to the point where the bark becomes soggy.

Fertilizer

High nitrogen fertilizers should be used from spring to summer, while low nitrogen fertilizers should be used from fall to winter. Mix one teaspoon of fertilizer with one gallon of water, and fertilize with this mixture once a month.

13. Ludisia

Light

Filtered, Indirect Light

Soil

Mix of 60% potting soil and 40% grit or perlite

Temperature

These orchids can withstand temperatures between 55-85°F. Don't expose them to anything below 50°F.

Water

This plant prefers slightly damp conditions. Do not allow it to dry out between waterings.

Fertilizer

Jewel orchids are small feeders. They only require fertilizer a few times a year. You can use a special orchid feed or something more generic like regular fertilizer.

14. Phaius

Light

Bright, Indirect Light

Soil

Well draining houseplant potting mix

Temperature

During the day they thrive in mild temperatures between 75-85°F. At night they will tolerate slightly cooler environments.

Water

This plant prefers slightly damp conditions. Do not allow it to dry out between waterings.

Fertilizer

During warmer weather or in warmer climates fertilize every other watering.

15. Phragmipedium

Light

Bright, Indirect Light

Soil

Seedling grade fir bark type mixes, possibly with tree fern for drainage

Temperature

During the day they thrive in mild temperatures between 75-85°F. At night they will tolerate slightly cooler environments. Good air movement is very important.

Water

Since these plants prefer damp conditions, they are best grown sitting in small saucers filled with about half an inch of fresh water. When the water is almost used up, water again.

Fertilizer

To fertilize, use low nitrogen fertilizer every other watering. It is important to rinse the pot occasionally to get rid of accumulated fertilizer, especially if using clay pots and saucers.

16. Brassavola

Light

Bright, Indirect Light

Soil

Well draining potting medium like fine-grade orchid bark or orchid mix preferably with clay pellets, charcoal and pine bark chips

Temperature

Brassavola prefer intermediate to warm temperatures. It blooms best in temperatures between 65-85°F.

Water

Water often during growing season, but keep it slightly dry after flowering.

Fertilizer

The orchid should be fed throughout the year with a weak fertilizer solution.

17. Cycnoches

Light

Bright, Diffused Light

Soil

Well draining potting medium like fine-grade bark or orchid mix

Temperature

The ideal day temperature is 75-80°F, while the ideal night temperature is 60-65°F. Occasional temperature extremes are tolerated if exposure is not prolonged. As long as you keep the temperature reasonable, you should have a healthy plant.

Water

Cycnoches grow throughout the entire year, and require more frequent watering. Typcally, they can be watered once a week during the winter and twice a week during the summer.

Fertilizer

High nitrogen fertilizers can be used year-round. Mix one teaspoon of fertilizer with one gallon of water, and fertilize with this mixture once a month.

18. Catasetum

Light

Birght Light

Soil

Fine-grade orchid bark is common for smaller pots; medium-grade bark is used only for large pots

Temperature

Native to hot tropical areas, these orchids do best in warm climates with day temperatures of 80-100°F and night temperatures of 60-65°F. When the growing period ends temperatures should be reduced to 70-85°F during the day and 55°F at night.

Water

These plants grow for a short period. Water weekly when you see new leaves forming. Gradually reduce watering once growth stops.

Fertilizer

Use a high nitrogen formulation while plants are in active growth, slowly tapering off as the growth period ends. Bloom booster fertilizer should be used in the fall except for plants that normally bloom in the spring.

19. Epidendrum

Light

Medium to Bright Indirect Light

Soil

Well draining potting medium like fine-grade bark or orchid mix

Temperature

The average daytime temperature should be between 60-90°F, and the average nighttime temperature should be between 50-70°F. These orchids can even tolerate near freezing temperatures for short periods of time.

Water

Epidendrum orchids need more frequent and abundant watering. Water every 4-5 days during the warmer months and once weekly in the cooler months.

Fertilizer

Fertilize regularly when in full growth. A balanced fertilizer is recommended at a half-strength solution every time you water.

20. Encyclia

Light

Bright Light

Soil

Rapidly draining potting mix like coarse fir bark

Temperature

This plant does best in daytime temperatures of 70°F and nighttime temperatures between 55-60°F.

Water

These plants like to stay rather dry. Allow to dry out during the winter and increase watering slightly when growth resumes.

Fertilizer

When Encyclia orchids are in active growth they should be fertilized once a week. An orchid fertilizer mix is recommended. During the winter months, Encyclias should only be fertilized once a month.

21. Lycaste

Light

Bright, Filtered Light

Soil

Potting mix of sphagnum moss or fine fir bark and perlite

Temperature

During the day they thrive in mild temperatures between 75-85°F. At night they do best in temperatures between 50-60°F.

Water

Water when the plant's potting mix is nearly dry to the center. It is best to soak the potting mix thoroughly when watering. This can be as often as every 2-3 days in the summer, and every 7-10 days in the winter.

Fertilizer

Plants in this group should be given a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer about once a month during their growing months.

22. Masdevallia

Light

Medium to Low Light

Soil

Potting mix of sphagnum moss or fine fir bark and perlite

Temperature

During the day they thrive in mild temperatures between 75-85°F. At night they like temperatures between 50-60°F.

Water

This plant likes to stay moist but not wet. It is best to soak the potting mix thoroughly when watering. Water around every 2-3 days in the summer and every 7-10 days in the winter.

Fertilizer

Apply a light amount of fertilizer at half strength every third time the plant is watered.

23. Psychopsis

Light

Low to Bright Light

Soil

Well draining potting medium like fine-grade orchid bark or orchid mix preferably with clay pellets, charcoal and pine bark chips

Temperature

During the day they thrive in mild temperatures between 75-85°F. At night they do best in temperatures between 50-60°F.

Water

These plants enjoy moisture and should be watered every 2-3 days during the summer. Watering can be reduced in cooler climates.

Fertilizer

Fertilize most heavily during growing periods and when the plants are placed in brighter light. Any orchid-friendly fertilizer can be used, but less nitrogen is needed when the plant is growing in a fir bark mix.

24. Sarcochilus

Light

Moderate to Low light

Soil

Medium to coarse grade treated pine bark and river pebbles

Temperature

Most sarcochilus need minimum temperatures of 40°F to bloom properly, and cannot tolerate temperatures over 90°F. They will tolerate a light frost with overhead protection and constant air movement.

Water

The potting mixture should be constantly moist near the roots of the plant. Be extremely careful not to overwater during the winter.

Fertilizer

Light feeding when in active growth is extremely beneficial. Use a balanced water-soluble fertilizer during this period.

 

Resources: gardners.com | proplants.com | beautifulorchids.com | carterandholmes.com | orchidfetish.com | orchidsmadeeasy.com |