Orchids are found as ornamental plants in many households and gardens. Their uniquely designed flowers with vibrant colors, speckles, and patterns, as well as the long luscious leaves, add to the décor of your interiors as well as outdoor gardens.
The beauty of these unique flowers is incomparable and has an exotic vibe about them. The orchid plants are among the most diverse group of flowering greens found in the flora kingdom.
There are more than 25,000 varieties of orchids that are found, each with different types of flowers, some with attractive foliage and unique growth patterns.
There is also a lot of hybrid and inter-generic species of orchids available that are cultivated in labs by scientists and agriculturalists for their appealing display qualities and commercial purposes. These diversely popular and unique plants can be grown almost everywhere around the world.
Along with being able to grow these garden plants anywhere, they can also be grown considerably easily.
Orchids aren’t very high-maintenance plants and they can grow well even without a lot of attention and care. Just providing the plant with all the necessary light, water, nutrition, medicines, temperature, and other needs in a balanced amount will make your orchids grow properly and they will bear beautiful and healthy flowers as well.
Different varieties of orchids have different growth patterns and habits. Seasons for blooming and dormancy periods also vary from plant to plant.
Thus, always make sure to identify and know well about your orchid plants to be able to determine their blooming periods, growth and care instructions, lifespans, and flowering frequency.
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How long do orchid plants survive?
With all the right ways of care and a balanced supply of required elements, orchids can grow rather well and healthy for long periods.
Although mostly there is not any definite lifespan of orchids, after a few years of blooming, these plants tend to get weaker with passing time.
Overt time, bacteria and fungi infestations, diseases, etc. can lower the natural immunity of the plants. With the passing years, the capacity of each plant to bear flowers also reduces.
With time the plants also become more vulnerable to diseases and roots and stem start to age. Regular re-potting and proper care can reduce the pace of damage and can make the plants last longer.
Mostly these unique varieties of flowering flora can live up to a decade or at times even two. A 15 – 20-year lifespan can be expected from orchid plants but they may even grow for either a longer period or shorter than expected time.
With passing time, the plants will surely lose their ability to grow well and bloom. It all depends on the type of plant and all the care and required conditions it receives.
Many orchid plants have often had surprisingly long lifetimes. A botanical garden in Singapore has experienced an orchid plant that has more than 150 years of lifespan.
Orchids are often known to be challenging houseplants and many owners have assumed their plants to be incapable of flowering and even dead after the blooming seasons, but in reality, it is not so.
The orchids have a dormancy period after every blooming season which is more of a resting state for the plant. The dormancy period varies in different orchid species.
The plant will start to grow afresh and flower once this dormancy phase has ended. Therefore, all it takes is a little patience and some knowledge about taking care and growing orchids efficiently to make them last longer and healthy.
Growing, caring and maintaining orchid plants at home:
Potting the orchid plant correctly
Potting is the very initial stage to decide and keep in mind when it comes to having a plant and this should be carried out efficiently.
While selecting pots for your orchids make sure to choose a pot that permits proper drainage, such a pot is one which has good holes at the base for allowing water to flow out.
This is essential because if the soil retains water for a period which is more than necessary, then the excess moisture can lead to the rotting of roots; this in turn can seriously damage the plant.
Hence, the water stored in the soil must be given a channel to be drained out through holes at the bottom of the pot.
The water flowing out from the bottom of the pot can be muddy and can dirty your floors, to avoid this, you can place your pots over a saucer which can collect the excess water instead of letting it flow out.
Choosing soil for the Orchids
Orchid plants have a separate soil need as well. There are particular soils found in markets that fulfill the requirements of the orchid plants.
Orchids like a well-drained and aerated soil. A bark or peat-based potting mix can be used as these types have great drainage properties and will prevent the holding of water.
Waterlogging can be avoided by the use of these soil types. Apart from that, these kinds of soil also provide enough oxygen for the roots and hold just enough moisture.
Correctly placing the Orchid plants
The location and positioning of the orchids must be done with care and precision as this decides the amount of sunlight exposure for the plant.
It is ideal to select south or an east-facing window as these provide the right sun exposure for the plants. The orchids need an indirect supply of bright sunlight.
A west window can be suitable if there are sheer curtains placed in front as this assists in keeping away the harsh and direct Sun rays. Be sure that the sunlight isn’t too warm or intense as this can have adverse effects on the leaves and ultimately the entire plant.
A North-facing window does not supply enough light for fulfilling the plant’s development and thus it is optimal to choose east or south window position.
If keeping the plant outdoors, it is best to place it under a bigger plant or tree so that it gets a good amount of full and bright sun in an indirect manner which won’t be harmful.
Placing the pots by a window is a good option as it also gives the plant the necessary air circulation.
Orchid plant’s temperature needs
Orchids can generally survive in versatile climatic conditions and are therefore found in various places all around the world.
They grow considerably well in almost all indoor temperature settings and can make do with slight shifts in the climate. Moderate room temperatures, generally ranging from around 60 to 75 are optimal for the growth and flowering of orchids.
One key factor to keep in mind is that these plants won’t thrive in cold environments and certainly would not bear a frost season.
Gentle air circulation with around 40% to 60% humidity in the atmosphere is an ideal surrounding for orchids to develop and bloom.
The placing of the plant either indoors or outdoors can be decided based upon the environmental setting of the rooms or the garden.
How to properly water the Orchid plants
Watering the orchids is a task that takes some attention and tending. The orchids like to be watered when their soil has dried out.
To find out if the soil has dried out or not, you can touch the soil with your fingers and insert them into the soil for around an inch deep.
If the soil feels wet then it means that there is still moisture left in the soil for the roots to absorb. If the soil feels dry then you can water your orchid.
Make sure to generously water the plant but do not over-water them. Over-watering can make the soil too wet and this can lead to excess amounts of moisture in the soil.
Over-watering can increase the vulnerability of the roots to rot and this can be permanently hampering for the health of the plant.
The potted Orchid plant must be watered only on the soil and avoid pouring water on the leaves. Let the water soak into the soil and allow the excess to drain out from the bottom of the pot.
Watering every once in two days, or around 3 to 4 times in a week is enough to satisfy the thirst of an orchid. During the dormancy stage, the watering routine can be reduced as at such time the plant has comparatively minimal requirements.
Humidity in the air can also be a factor that can affect your watering schedules. If the humidity in the atmosphere is below 40% then the leaves can be provided with water misting or spraying to suffice the moisture needs.
On the other hand, if the humidity in the air is more than 60%, then it is advisable to water your orchids less frequently. Be sure to let the soil dry before re-watering to avoid any root damage and fungal or bacterial build in the soil.
Fertilizing and nourishment for the orchids
Orchids like some fertilizing in the growing season. It is best to even provide the soil with some organic matter as the orchids prefer rich and fertile soils and it also facilitates a good healthy blooming.
Fertilizers especially for orchids are found in the market, online, and gardening stores and they can be used as per the instructions.
In the growing season, these plants can be provided with a liquid fertilizer every once or even twice a month. If you are using a balanced fertilizer, it is advisable to reduce its concentration to the half. Diluted forms of nourishment work better and are helpful for the growth and nutrition of the orchids. The plants can also be fertilized when they are producing flowers.
When the growth of new leaves stop, that is mainly during its dormancy period, it must be allowed to rest and should not be over-crowded with nutrition.
Fertilizing must not be carried out during this stagnant growth period. Once the dormancy season has ended and the plant starts producing new leaves, it can be provided with nutrition through fertilizers again.
Do not water the plant immediately after recent fertilizing as it washes away the nutrients.
Keeping a check on pests and diseases in the plant
Orchids can often be infested by common bugs and pests. If your orchid leaves start to show a black and sooty mold build-up and feel sticky to touch, then it is an indication that the plant has insects like the common scale insects and mealybugs.
It is best to check your plant for these insects on and under the foliage and stems and when spotted it is best to remove them by hand. If the insect issue persists, you can make use of insecticides available in the market.
Once removed, the leaves should be softly and carefully wiped by a cloth or cotton swab that has been dipped in soapy water. This helps to keep away the insects and also removes the sticky feeling from the leaves and stems. This technique also kills and prevents insects.
If the orchid leaves start turning a pale yellow or cream, or even turn brown or black, then it is a sign of a disease. It is best to cut off such portions of the plant to resist further spread. They can also be treated by medicines and fungicides.
Pruning of the orchids
Orchid stem usually flowers only once. A stem that has once flowered would generally not produce any more blooms.
Thus these old stems need to be cut off to facilitate the growth of new flowering stems. Some types like the Phalaenopsis and moth orchid stems can flower more than once. It is better to find out about the type of orchid you own and prune the stems accordingly.
Be mindful to use clean tools to carry out pruning so that there isn’t any damage or disease forming.
Orchids like to be re-potted once in either one or every two years. The bottom of the plant if indicates that the roots have no more space to spread, then it is time to transfer the orchid plant to a larger and wider pot.
Use a well-drained pot along with the necessary soiling mix. After the plant has been re-potted, it should be given its time to adapt and this can also result in no flowers during the year.
Following and keeping in mind all these pointers can be useful in growing orchids by yourself in your homes and gardens even if you are a beginner. Care and provide the requirements to watch the plant grow healthy and produce beautiful flowers for years to come.
Hi there! My name is Constance and I am a professional botanist. My enthusiasm for organic farming has led me to start this blog about gardening for beginners!
I write articles and tips on improving your home and garden with less work. I also share my own advice from the perspective of someone who loves all things green – like how to grow vegetables in containers or how to make compost out of kitchen scraps.