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If anyone asks me, what my favorite plant or flower I have in my home, my repsonse is always “an orchid plant” and I love to grow, nuture and enjoy them. I think having spend part of my childhood in South East Asia has contributed to that love, but I also like them because they are a little bit fussy and harder to care for and I like a challenge.
One of my favorite times of the year is visiting Kew Gardens and their annual orchid festival, to enjoy hundreds of orchids on display.
But when I am at home, I try to give my own orchids the right level of TLC to keep them happy and blooming too.
I tend to have 3-4 orchid plants on the go at any one time, and some will be blooming and some will be what I call “resting” and re growing.
I find that orchids don’t like to be fussed over or touched too much and if you find the perfect spot for them, they will thrive and be very happy. Because I live in the UK it’s not the tropical weather that a lot of orchids like but you can keep them content and blooming without having to move countries.
My top tips for keeping orchids happy are:
Space to grow – when you are given an orchid plant or buy one, check it’s roots. The plant may look healthy but they need space for their extensive roots so you need to make sure they are in a pot or container with plenty of space. They won’t thrive if they feel cramped.
Watering – can be tricky. Some people say ice cubes in their soil, some people say water precisely every 7 days. I have found that some orchids like regular watering and, to be honest it can depend on the weather, heat, and room atmosphere. I find that what works best is to put all my plants in the bath and give them a good drink of not cold but not warm water, and let them soak it up for about half an hour then make sure all their pots are well-drained and not full. I do this every ten days or so, but it’s a question of trial and error or what works.
To feed or not to feed – I tend to not feed my orchids when they are blooming but once they have stopped blooming I cut them back and let them rest and make sure they are fed and watered during that time. I use a Baby Bio drip feeder * for convenience and exact feeding measurements and it seems to work well and isn’t expensive.
Cutting them back – some people will only cut back part of the plant when it has bloomed. I prefer to be tough and I cut right back to the main stem. I find this encourages the plant to sprout more evenly and removes any dead plant more efficiently.
Where in the house – My orchids love our bathroom. It’s not too hot, it’s never too cold, and it has enough moisture in the air to help them thrive, but not too much. It’s also very light but they are not in direct light (they don’t like that) so I would suggest finding a temperate place in your house and seeing how they cope. It may take a little trial and error.
Look but don’t touch – do not fiddle with your orchid unless you are pruning or trimming it. Don’t touch the flowers or petals. They really don’t like being manhandled and are happier when left well alone to be admired but not poked and fiddled with.
Last but not least, don’t panic when your orchid dies back. It can and will bloom again if you look after it, with love and care but it can take a while. One of mine only blooms every year or so, and the others bloom twice a year. It takes time, love and a little bit of patience but if I can make orchids grow, as an un green fingered person, then you can too…
The Orchid Society has some brilliant tips and care tips as well, and is a site I have found very useful for info and advice for further reference.