With a cluster of delicate-looking blooms clinging to one or two extended stems that are flanked by elongated, bright green leaves, the simple beauty of the orchid plant has long been a favorite household and office plant. Orchids are available commercially year-round at florists, greenhouses and even the floral sections of some grocery and department stores. There are many colors, sizes and price ranges to choose from, and you can expect to pay anywhere from $9.99 for a mini orchid to upwards of $35 or more for a larger orchid plant in most New England retail settings. To get the most out of your purchase, follow these tips on how to care for orchids.
Before purchasing an orchid check the overall health of the plant.
How to Spot a Healthy Orchid
- Is the stem sturdy? Avoid plants with limp, brittle and damaged stems.
- Are the leaves bright green and free of damage and discoloration? Avoid brown, withered, shriveled and/or discolored leaves.
- Are the buds of unopened blooms intact, or if the orchid is already in bloom, do the flowers appear bright, full and secure on the stem? Avoid plants with faded or wilting flowers or loose or missing blooms.
Once you have selected a healthy specimen the key is to help it flourish and bloom as often as possible. After the plant has flowered, the blooms will stay open anywhere from several weeks to a few months — sometimes more — when kept in ideal conditions.
Ideal Household Conditions for Orchids
- Temperature: Most orchid plants do well in a day temperature of 65- 75 degrees and a night temperature of 56 – 70 degrees.
- Humidity: Orchids prefer about 60 percent humidity in the air, but they also need a spot where there is good air circulation. Humidifiers and fans can be used to adjust air quality.
- Soil: Soil should be loose and never compacted.
- Light: Orchids prefer bright, filtered light, and will not flourish in dimly-lit rooms.
- Watering and Feeding : Water about once a week. Do not over water, and — if possible — mist instead with non-chlorinated water that is kept at room temperature. Do not let their “feet” sit in water. Follow fertilizing directions from the orchids packaging.
After flowers have completely dropped from the plant, it is time to prep the orchid to re-bloom.
How to Care for Orchids to Encourage Re-blooming
- Cut the stalk back to about half the current length.
- Seal the cut end with a dab of melted wax to protect the cut from exposure to bacteria.
- Move the orchid to a cooler area that receives less light for a few weeks to allow it to store up energy before re-introducing it to more light and warmer temperatures again.
Within a few weeks or months — depending on location of the orchid — new growth should appear near the cut site. Orchids are known to be slow-growing and the re-bloom time can take anywhere from several weeks to several months after the new growth appears. But as enthusiasts know, it is well worth the wait to have an orchid rebloom.