How to Keep Orchids at Home Successfully!

Orchids are mainly an outdoor flowers and they come in a few beautiful colors. They will flourish outside if they are taken care of properly. But did you know that if a person handles them correctly they can flourish indoors as well? If they receive the proper amount of sunlight and water and if they are transplanted or planted in the right type of soil they can flourish indoors as well. They are pretty to behold and they give off a nice aroma. But where do you find information on how to take care of orchids? Do you need to buy a How-to-book or do you need to go to college and get a degree in Orchid care?

The answer to both questions is no. There are plenty of informative articles on the internet on how to care for orchids indoors and this article will specifically share some details on how to care for orchids indoors. They need to have enough water and humidity to thrive indoors. Orchids need a lot of water. The size of the plant container will determine how often the orchid needs to be watered. There are practical steps to take to make sure the orchid needs to be watered or not.

Where to Start

Keep Orchids at Home

The orchids will adapt to the temperature and amount of light that comes through the typical window sill. Potting and orchid in the soil can kill it fairly quickly so don’t do it. There are over 100,000 hybrids and 20,000 species available in the earth today. Contrary to popular belief, orchids are not hard to grow and they will flourish indoors under the right conditions. There are some species that are delicate and will be difficult to grow and keep alive but there are plenty of orchid species that are robust and will grow easily and flourish indoors as they do outdoors. The orchid lover just needs to find the right orchid species for an indoor environment. Interestingly enough orchids unlike–philodendrons, palms, and Swedish Ivys-do not grow in soil but they will die if they are put in the soil. The soil will suffocate their roots, leaves and eventually kill the plant. If you just put them in a container they can breathe in and they can absorb water in then they will grow healthy and flourish indoors.   

Orchids in the wild do not grow in the soil their roots will not dig into the soil and grow but they will die if they are planted in the soil outdoors as well. Typically, the wild orchids attach themselves to tree trunks and branches by wrapping their strong and long roots around the trunk or branches of the tree. They can wrap around fences as well. They collect nutrients and water from the air and whatever drips down the tree or branches so they thrive in these circumstances. They need to absorb a lot of water if possible outdoors. But they can adapt to dry conditions and thrive in those as well. They do this from hoarding water in the roots, leaves and in this way they can survive when water is scarce. They always need plenty of moisture to survive.

They need to be in the right temperatures outside as well and they grow in areas where there is plenty of humidity available. Indoors they need to be in an environment that contains a high percentage of humidity.

Watering 

Watering the Orchids

Note that if a person puts an orchid in a pot it must be filled with loose  chips of bark, stones, tree fern or some other loosely packed material. A person will kill an orchid faster by overwatering the flower and drowning the pot in water. Orchids must have a well aerated pot to live in so oxygen is available for the plant to grow. If the plant is choked in water then the roots will suffocate and rot. Eventually, the rot will work its way up the plant and kill the flowers as well. Water orchids once a week thoroughly and let them dry out for a time before watering them again. Every 7 days is a good time frame to water them. 

Orchids will survive if the person forgets to water them on a regular basis. But orchids are not forgiving if they are overly saturated with water they will die in these conditions. Be careful when watering orchids water them on the weekly schedule and they will prosper and grow into healthy, mature plants. 

It cannot be overstated that orchids must never be overwatered they do require a lot of water but if they are drowned in the water they will surely fail and die.

Light 

How to keep orchids at home

Orchids are generally classified into three categories based on needs for light. Orchids will require a certain amount of light depending on what classification they are in. They may require a high intensity of light which would require them to absorb 3000 foot candles, the medium intensity in which they would need to absorb 2000 foot candles and finally low intensity in which these orchids would need to absorb a light intensity of light or about 1000 to 1500 foot candles.

Common sense would dictate that if high intensity light orchids did not receive the right amount of light they will shrivel up and die and so on down to the low intensity orchids. Conversely, if the different classification of orchids needing a certain intensity of light receives too much they will die from overexposure to light as well. It may be able to determine how much light the orchid species requires by the color of the leaves. Also, by the color of the leaves, one can tell how healthy or sick the orchid is. It is critical to place the orchid in a place where they will receive the proper level of light to keep the orchid healthy. 

There should be instructions with the orchid that direct on how much light and water the particular species will require. One can also ask the employees of the nursery how much water and light the orchid may require. 

Interestingly, normally if leaves on plants are dark green this indicates the plants are receiving enough light into their systems. But the orchid cannot have dark green leaves and be considered to be healthy. If the orchid’s leaves are dark green this means they are not absorbing enough light into their leaves. If the leaves are grassy green–light to medium green with yellow overtones in it–then it is receiving the right amount of light. 

Ideally, they need about 6 hours of light a day because their light needs are quite extensive. Orchids need the right amount of light for the flowers to bloom but if they do not receive the adequate amount of light they will grow but the flowers will not bloom. You can use this hand-to-eye test to gauge the light intensity of the orchid. Hold your hand 6 inches above the plant.

If the plant casts a strong shadow in it is getting enough light. If it is a faint shadow the plant is getting ok light. If there is no shadow then the plant is not getting any light. Southern or eastern windows provide the orchids with the best light. The western windows provide too much heat in the afternoon and northern windows are too dark to provide light for the orchid.

Position the plants away from or toward the window to manipulate the amount of light the plant will get. Too much direct sunlight on the plants will cause the leaves to sunburn and bleach. Eventually, they will turn black and the plants will die. The positioning of the plant depending on the season is required.

Sheer windows covering will cause the shade to project on the plant which will not allow enough light to reach the plant. Positioning reflective materials around in the growing area will increase useable light. This is a good device to use in the winter when the light reaching the plant will decrease. Obviously, the reflective material will increase the light reaching the plant.

Artificial Light 

keeping Orchids indoors

If the window that the plant is positioned near provides inadequate natural light then you may consider using artificial light systems. Two 4foot long fluorescent lights set 6 inches apart will do the trick. Two shop light fixtures with cool white bulbs may also suffice. Special grow lights sold under certain brand names are expensive. They do extend the light spectrum and they may bring good results but the results are conflicting.

Place the orchids 6 to 8 inches below the lights and set the lights on a timer for 16 to 18 hours a day because orchids need a lot of light. Various orchids like–will be content but orchids such as–vandas and cymbidiums–require more natural light. So, they would grow under high-intensity lights then they will bloom. If the orchids are not producing flowers then they are not getting enough light from whatever source. A dimly lit window with artificial lights added will make the difference between the orchids producing flowers or not.

Extra Help for Orchids to Grow

Extra Help for Orchids to Grow

Orchids do not require a lot of extra maintenance but if extra fertilizer is added to the plant it certainly will not hurt the plants potential to grow. But if you want flowers to bloom on a regular basis then add a weak solution of 20-10-20 fertilizer once a week. Each month water the plant with plain water to remove any salts the fertilizer may leave.

Dilute the fertilizer to ¼ of the strength noted on the package. If you have any doubts about what strength to use of fertilizer then use less than more. You do not want to kill the orchid by putting too much fertilizer in the pot. Be sure to switch to blossom-booster fertilizer in the Autumn when orchids tend to produce flower buds.

Orchids are winter bloomers that will spruce up the homestead. Their peak blooming season is between December and April.They still need to have an adequate source of light to bloom in the winter. All the above steps mentioned about lighting applies in the winter as well.  Even more so in the winter. 

Humidity for Orchids

Humidity for Orchids

Orchids appreciate humidity at least 50% or more is ideal for orchids to prosper in. Homes have dry heat as their heating systems and this will not supply the orchids with enough humidity. The orchid owner can use alternative methods to supply the orchids with humidity. Such as operating a humidifier around the plants. Place the pots on flat black pebbles and saturate the pebbles with water to increase the humidity around the plants. Better yet get some (“Egg crate,” which is the lattice-like plastic grid sold in hardware stores for suspension ceiling lights, is a good, more steady alternative to the pebbles.”) Group the orchids together or ward off the growing area. Remember, to keep the growing area properly ventilated to keep the bacteria from multiplying and causing the plants problems. 

Basement Orchids

You can grow orchids in the basement but you must provide adequate lighting for the orchids to thrive in. Obviously, there will be no sources of natural light coming into the basement–unless there are windows in the basement. You can opt to use artificial lighting–you practically will have no choice–like installing fluorescent lighting on the ceiling of the basement. You must keep the area free of mold and bacteria.  

You can grow orchids in the basement but you really have to take the proper steps to successfully grow orchids. They need adequate lighting and they still need the right amount of humidity in the environment. They must have at least 50% humidity but larger percentages will be much better. 

You can grow orchids in the basement but keep in mind that it will take a lot of preparatory work and a lot of maintenance to keep the orchids thriving in the basement. They will follow the same blooming pattern in the basement during the winter as they would if th3ey were in the house.

Cutting the Orchid Spike

Cutting the Orchid Spike

To cut the spike when the flowers are dead you can either cut them at the base or cut them leaving two nodes on the stem–the brown lines on the stem–then the flowers will revive. It maybe that the flowers will rebloom after a few month’s time.

Phalaenopsis orchids will rebloom if you give them a little extra care. They are the only species that will rebloom the flowers without cutting the spike. 

Back to the nodes the nodes-one or two of them–will initiate the flower blooms once again in about 8 to 12 weeks. So, with proper and delicate care you can probably keep the flowers blooming on the orchid. Like an animal, the orchid will develop a virus if the stem if cut with a dirty cutting edge. Use a sterile cutting tool to keep the virus from developing in the orchid and killing it. A flat razor blade is a very good cutting tool to cut the orchid stem. Make sure it is a clean razor blade to prevent viruses from attacking the orchid. 

Watering an Orchid  

Watering an Orchid

It is a common problem that orchids will be oversaturated with water. Orchids usually die from being overwatered then under watered. If you saturate the roots with water the nourishment cannot thrust into the rest of the orchid and the plant will shrivel up and die. Tradition teaches to water the orchid the day before it dries out. But this may not be the best policy because if the orchid becomes too dry it will dry out and die.

You can test if the orchid has enough water or not. Take a sharpened pencil and insert it into the plant and it will darken the tip. If the tip darkens then the plant has enough water. If the point does not darken then the plant is not receiving enough moisture. Be careful inserting the pencil into the plant so you will not damage it.

Water the orchid in the morning this also the orchid to fully absorb the moisture from the roots up and if you live in a home with a dry environment then you will need to water the plant more often to keep it healthy and growing. 

The best place to water the plant is in the kitchen sink and use lukewarm water and do not use water with salt in it. Use distilled water to water the plant. Water the plant for about 15 seconds and let it thoroughly drain. 

Conclusion: We have shared some practical steps on how to take care of an orchid indoors and in the basement. If you use some tender loving care with your orchid you can enjoy its beauty for a long time. Use the proper watering technique and use the right amount of fertilizer on the plant. Make sure the plant has the right amount of light and water. It must also have the right amount of humidity.