Swan Orchid Care Tips

  • Author: Constance Harrington
  • Published: June 18, 2020
  • Last Updated: August 30, 2022

Swan orchids are among the most popular orchids. They can produce stunningly beautiful flowers if given the right conditions and appropriate care. It’s best to grow them indoors, but they can grow outdoors in suitable climates.

These orchids get their name because of the appearance of their elegant flowers, which arch similarly to a swan’s neck. The flowers are often white, but swan orchids can also bloom in yellow, red, and other colors.

Swan orchid is the common name for the Cycnoches genus of orchids. There are over 30 accepted species in the genus, all of which share similar characteristics and growing requirements.

I detail the optimal requirements below and advise on how to care for swan orchids effectively.

Buying vs. Propagating Swan Orchids 

Having thriving swan orchids in your home starts with deciding whether you want to buy them or grow them yourself using propagation techniques. Neither option is notably better than the other, so this decision is entirely up to you.

  • You can propagate swan orchids from seeds, stem cuttings, and tissue culture. Separating the pseudobulbs also works.
  • Swan orchids are widely available at florists, garden stores, and online nurseries.

If you choose to buy swan orchids, I recommend having them delivered to your home if you can. They’re very delicate plants, and the best online nurseries will ensure they reach you in good condition. 

Swan Orchid Light Requirements

Suitable light is an essential factor in growing healthy swan orchids. These plants require high light levels if they are to burst into flowers.

Swan orchids like bright light, but direct sunlight can burn their leaves. It’s best to set them in a location where they’ll get a few hours of indirect sunlight each day.

The color of your swan orchids’ leaves will indicate whether they’re receiving the right amount of light.

  • Bright green leaves: The plant is healthy and getting enough light.
  • Dark green leaves: The plant is probably getting insufficient light.
  • Yellowing or red leaves: The plant is likely getting too much light.

Swan Orchid Temperature and Humidity Requirements

Swan orchids are native to South America and Central America. As they naturally thrive in tropical climates, they prefer warmth during the day and cooler temperatures at night.

  • Optimal day temperature range: 25-30 degrees Celsius (75-80 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Optimal night temperature range: 15-20 degrees Celsius (60-65 degrees Fahrenheit)

Temperatures don’t need to be precisely in these ranges, but I recommend you aim for as close as possible. Higher temperatures are unlikely to damage your swan orchids if all the other conditions are good.

What is important is the variation in temperature. Being warmer during the day and cooler at night stimulates these plants to flourish.

Like all tropical plants, swan orchids prefer good levels of humidity. If you don’t live in a humid climate, you’ll want to ensure they get the necessary moisture. Two easy solutions here are regular misting and placing your plants in the bathroom. These are not necessarily optimal, though, depending on other factors.

The following guide features some great advice on increasing humidity for houseplants.

Swan Orchid Watering Requirements

The optimal watering requirements for swan orchids depend on a few factors.

  • Climatic conditions (especially humidity)
  • Potting medium or soil used
  • Current season
  • Size of plant

A lot of swan orchid care guides provide precise watering instructions. I don’t think it’s a good idea to follow such instructions as they don’t consider all the above factors.

My best advice here is to monitor your plants and gauge when they need water based on how they look and how damp the soil is. With that said, here are some general guidelines for watering swan orchids.

  • Swan orchids require the most water at the start of their growing season. This is usually early springtime, and you’ll notice the plants sprout new leaves and develop flower buds. Water generously during this period and ensure the soil is always moist.
  • You can reduce the watering slightly once your swan orchids have started blooming. Once or twice a week should be fine.
  • After the flowering period ends, usually around the end of summer, you can water even less regularly.
  • Once most leaves have fallen off your swan orchids, you should stop watering them and mist them periodically instead.

Swan Orchid Soil and Potting Requirements

I recommend clay pots if you want to grow your swan orchids in conventional pots. Hanging baskets or planters are also worth considering, as they help with air circulation. Good air circulation is essential for the healthy growth of swan orchids.

Whatever type you decide on, make sure you use well-draining containers. Swan orchids need good drainage, which applies to the soil or potting mix. Almost all advice on how to care for swan orchids suggests using one of the following.

  • Fine fir bark
  • Sphagnum moss

These are both excellent options, so my advice is no different. One additional tip I can offer is to try mounting your swan orchids instead of potting them. Check out the following guide to learn how to mount orchids.

Top Tip: It’s a good idea to repot your swan orchids once a year. The best time to repot them is just before the start of the growing season.

Fertilizing Swan Orchids

Swan orchids will benefit from most types of fertilizer. I recommend using one of the following three options.

  • A well-balanced fertilizer
  • A high nitrogen fertilizer
  • Orchid plant food

Any one of these three will be suitable for your swan orchids. The best time to fertilize them is during their active growing phase. I suggest adding the fertilizer once a week, immediately after watering.

You don’t need to keep fertilizing swan orchids once they have flowered.

Reblooming Swan Orchids

Once your swan orchids have stopped flowering, they will start losing their leaves as they enter a dormancy period. It’s normal for them to lose ALL their leaves, so don’t panic or assume they are dying.

Healthy swan orchids should naturally come out of the dormancy period and start reblooming. If your plants fail to rebloom, it’s most likely because the conditions are not right. The first thing to do is ensure they’re getting enough light and water, then check all the other requirements.

If all the conditions are correct and your swan orchids are still not reblooming, try giving them some extra plant food or fertilizer. You could also repot them if you haven’t already done so, ensuring that their roots are clean and untangled.

If the plants still don’t respond, you can try a few other tricks. Check out the following for some further advice.

More On Orchids and Orchid Care

The advice above is tailored specifically to growing and caring for swan orchids. My colleagues and I have also provided a lot of information and advice about orchids in general on Gardenzy.com.

Here are some additional pieces of content that might interest you.