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Caring for an Orchid

Category Flowers
Woman with Orchids
This diverse plant group contains thousands of mostly tropical varieties and that produce beautiful flowers and fragrances. This is a guide about caring for an orchid.
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By 0 found this helpful
March 27, 2008

Question:

Does anyone know how to care for orchids? I got one as a gift a couple of days ago. It's beautiful, dark pink flowers, and it almost reaches my waist. I just don't know how to care for it.
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Auntie Sandi from Montreal, Quebec

Answer:

Auntie Sandi,

What a wonderful gift! It sounds beautiful, too! The first thing I would recommend is finding out what type of orchid you have. If your orchid did not come with a plant label, use the resources below or ask the person who presented it to you where they bought it. If it was purchased at a nursery, contact the nursery for help in identifying it. Identification is important because different types of orchids sometimes have very different growing requirements. In any case, here are some general rules to follow:

Temperature: This is where the needs of some orchids really differ. As a rule, try to keep daytime temperatures around 70F in the summer and 60F in the winter. Cool nights are important for most orchids, so a drop in nighttime temperatures of approximately 10F is ideal. Always avoid cold drafts and sudden swings in temperature.

Light: Lots of bright (not direct!) sunlight is important. Orchids need 10-15 hours of light each day so plan to support them with some artificial lighting in the winter if necessary.

Humidity: Set you orchid's pot on a pebble tray filled with water and locate it in an area with good ventilation. It is fine to set your orchid outside in the summer on warm days, just make sure you protect it from direct sunlight.

Watering: As with most houseplants, orchids need consistently moist (not wet) compost. Filtered water is best (not distilled). Reduce the frequency of watering in the winter when light quality is lower. It is okay to let the top 1-inch of soil dry out between watering, but never let the pot dry out completely.

Feeding: There are several fertilizers formulated for orchids. Read and follow label directions carefully. Drastically reduce or eliminate feeding entirely during the winter.

Repotting: Orchids prefer to be somewhat pot-bound, so repot only every 3-4 years or when you start to notice an overall decline in the plant.

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Here are some good resources:

Eastern Canada Orchid Society
Montréal, Québec
http://www.ecosorchids.ca/

Orchid Societies the USA and Canada
http://www.orchid.org.uk/orchidsocietiesusa.htm

Good Luck!

Ellen

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February 26, 20080 found this helpful

This link tells you a lot about caring for an orchid and offers further assistance.

http://ezineart  er&id=435922

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 2, 20080 found this helpful

Hey I was wondering the same thing, got all my info from the first site that was posted for you to look into. They will correspond to your email and fast. But one thing that your answer didn't have was the fact that you can take a spray bottle with a soft spray and mist the leaves and roots with that too.

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May 13, 20170 found this helpful

Knowing the type of orchid you have will help define the proper winter care that it needs. This is a guide about caring for orchids in the winter.

A purple orchid growing next to a window.

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
July 19, 2016

I received this plant as a gift. I don't really do gardening or have much understanding of plants. Can anyone tell me what this plant is called and how I look after it? Would I need to take it out of the box and repot it?

Editor's Note: Plant ID made to the general category of orchid prior to publishing.

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February 2, 20170 found this helpful

It is difficult to tell the exact name of your orchid from this photo as there are so many different types/species.

Here is a photo that resembles your orchid:

http://www.bhg.  to-grow-orchids/

Here is an excellent article from Thriftyfun Archives about how to care for orchids in general - written by Ellen Brown:

http://www.thri  2588897.tip.html

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February 4, 20170 found this helpful

Beautifulorchids.com is the most comprehensive website I found on the subject. http://www.beau  d_questions.html

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May 25, 20060 found this helpful
Q: I just got an Orchid as a gift. I do not know how to care for them. Water? Light? Food? HELP!

Thanks very much.
Robyn from Kent, WA

A: Robyn,

Each type of orchid has its own special needs regarding care, but there are some general rules.

1. Orchids generally need daytime temperatures of about 70ºF in the summer, and 60ºF in the winter. Cool temperatures at night (a drop of around 10ºF) are also important. Setting orchids outdoors during warm summer days is okay, but they should be protected against frost and cold drafts.

2. Orchids need generous amounts of light (10-12 hours a day), but should be shaded from direct sunlight. A window with lace curtains or something similar to filter the sunlight is ideal. In the winter, artificial light can be used to supplement a lack of natural daylight. Make sure you turn the pots often to promote even growth.

3. Orchids need moist, humid air, so mist leaves occasionally and place pots on a pebble tray to help maintain humidity.

4. Water orchids with distilled, tepid water. Keep the soil moist, not wet, and reduce watering in the winter.

5. Orchids enjoy being kept somewhat pot-bound and should be only be repotted when the size of the pot seems to be impeding their growth. Plants can be divided during repotting, leaving at least 3 shoots on each division. Potting mix designed specifically for orchids works well when repotting.

6. How you fertilize orchids depends on what type of orchid you're growing and whether or not it goes seasonally dormant. Seasonally dormant orchids do not need feeding in the winter. In general, a balanced liquid orchid fertilizer (preferably organic) can be applied weekly to promote growth and one with a higher ratio of phosphorus can be used to promote flowering. The plant should be watered beforehand to avoid root burn. Orchids growing in bark may need more nitrogen.

Good Luck! Ellen

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 20, 20060 found this helpful

Get a real orchid pot or make one by keeping the orchid in the clear plastic pot inside another pot, then getting a tray with water and stones, pebbles etc. and set the orchid pot in that.....they like humidity and it's the easiest way to give it to them short of putting it in the bathroom.

Also do not put them in direct sun.......they need light but not full sun.

Try the Orchid Society webpage for much more information on growing orchids.

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 20, 20060 found this helpful

I almost forgot......water them once a week or a bit less and feed them with a true orchid fertilizer as directed on the package ;-)

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By 0 found this helpful
September 23, 2016

I have been feeding them ice cubes. And they seem to like it because their leaves are strong and green. There roots are coming out of the pots. I am afraid to transplant them, because I don't know the type of soil. And I don't want them to die. The other problem is their leaves are green and strong on the bottom, but they're barren with no flowers at the top.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
February 13, 20171 found this helpful

They are a tropical plant, so not sure about the ice cubes. The will not bloom if they are rootbound, or don't get enough light. I repot mine about every other year.

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By 0 found this helpful
October 18, 2010

My orchid plant has lost all the leaves and the flowers are drooping. How do I revive this plant? There was a lot of water oozing out of the leaves.

Hardiness Zone: 11

By Ceil from Palm Springs, CA

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Answers

Anonymous
October 19, 20100 found this helpful

It could have scale or aphids.

http://forums2.  08215215552.html

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Archives

ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

August 6, 20050 found this helpful

Q: Is there anyone out there that can tell me the easiest way to care for an orchid that has just finished blooming?

Deborah from Calgary, Alberta, Canada

A: Deborah,

After the bloom has dropped off, you may notice the tip of the spike starting to turn brown. Don't cut it off. If you're lucky, your orchid may develop a second bloom within 60-90 days from this same spike. This doesn't happen often, but it does happen so keep watering and fertilizing as normal until you're sure foliage growth has stopped. When the whole spike turns brown, go ahead and cut it off. Most orchids prefer a rest period after blooming. This is so the plant can redirect its energy into vegetative growth. How long it prefers to rest will depend on the variety you're growing. Reduce your application of water and fertilizer during this rest period until you see new foliage starting again (this may be as long as a few months). If you plan to divide your orchids, the correct time to do so is after flowering.

Ellen Brown

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