How to Keep Your Orchid Alive
It's been said that orchids are some of the easiest houseplants to grow—though those who have killed an orchid (or four) might disagree. So, for those black thumbs among us, we offer these tips and tricks to keep your orchids not only alive—but thriving—in the long run.
Put your orchid in a safe place.
You can't simply set your orchid down any old place, warns Bruce Rogers, orchid expert and author of The Orchid Whisperer, Expert Secrets for Growing Beautiful Orchids ($15.59, amazon.com). "Although your new orchid looks stunning on the table behind the couch, there may be a heating vent under it that will cook it the first day," he says. "Putting it on the entrance table by the front door could expose it to freezing cold weather and drafts during winter. [And] an orchid on a coffee table may be easy pray for pets and small children." So, be sure to thoroughly scope out where you'd like to keep your orchid, making sure it's is free of things that can injure it.
Don't give it too much water.
"In most cases, orchids, are more likely to be killed by doting overwatering than neglectful under-watering," warns David Horak, curator of the orchid collection at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. To make sure you're not giving your orchid too much water, only water it when its soil (or another medium) approaches dryness, instructs Horak. Water your orchid early in the day—so the plants can dry off before cooler night temperature—with tepid water, he says.
Make sure your orchid is draining well.
If you're keeping your orchid in a decorative container, make sure it has been thoroughly drained after watering it and before putting it back in that container, says Rogers. "Also, after watering, make sure no water remains in the crown or the leaf joints of the plant," he warns. (Do this by turning your orchid to the side, which will drain water from the crown.)
Don't forget to repot your orchids.
Like other plants, orchids benefit from being repotted. "If you have never done it, it can be intimidating the first time or two—but not only does it get easier, it can rejuvenate you as well as the plant," Horak promises. This video will take you step-by-step through how to repot your orchid. "Try to stick to a schedule of repotting at least every two to three years, or when the medium feels soggy or softer than it used to," Horak suggests, who adds that, "the importance of regular repotting to sustained orchid health cannot be overstated."
Don't leave your orchid home alone (seriously).
When you travel, don't forget to make arrangements for someone to check in on and care for your orchid, says Rogers. But if you can't find a plant sitter, "orchids can be placed in a bathtub on risers, with water level just below the bottom of the pots to help increase humidity and extend time between watering," he says. "Orchids also love air circulation," so while gone, you can try to "place a fan close by or give them fresh air during good weather."