Five Easy Steps to Orchid Success

March 24, 2012 by


Think orchids are delicate and hard to care for? Not true! Like many people, I used to believe this so I steered clear of them. But on a recent visit to Costa Farms, I learned that orchids are the perfect indoor plant for people like me, the houseplant fearful: they thrive on neglect. Besides being beautiful, orchids, like many houseplants, are good for your health. They provide oxygen and are great natural air filters that help clear indoor air of carbon dioxide and other airborne toxins. And since orchids do their “heavy breathing” at night, they are perfect for the bedroom.

Tips for the Newbie Orchid Grower
Start with “Phalaenopsis or ‘moth orchids’ which are easy to grow and maintain, the colors are vibrant, and you’ll feel successful as the flowers last for months. “What attracts most people to orchids are the exotic colors,” says Dr. Kate Santos, orchid expert with Costa Farms. This spring, look for the new 12-inche tall ‘Phalaenopsis’ Mini-Orchids that come in decorative pots for under $15.

1. Watering
Water your mini-orchids thoroughly by drenching them in a sink or watering container until the pot feels weighted.  After a few days when the orchid becomes very light in weight, it’s time to re-water. Remember never to leave your orchid in standing water.

2. Feeding
Feed your orchids with a good high-nitrogen fertilizer weekly, but remember to dilute the fertilizer as instructed. This will help to bring booms back the following year.

3. Room Temperature
Orchids enjoy indoor temperatures between 60 to 75 F during the day and above 55 F at night.

4. Light
Remember to place them in a well-lit area, but not in direct sunlight. The amount of light varies depending on the orchid. In general, if you can comfortably read in the room, there is enough light for your orchid. Orchids with broader leaves need less light than those with thinner leaves.

5. Repotting
Trust me, this part is super easy: I accomplished it successfully and it was a breeze!

Depending on the growth of the orchid, you may consider repotting every one to two years. When repotting, use a medium of large bark and/or moss-like mix, which you can purchase at your local garden center.


Costa Farms’s orchid expert, Dr. Kate Santos, led me and a group of writers through an orchid repotting workshop.

Available at your local retailer, mini-orchids come in a wide variety of colors in both 3-inch and 6-inch pots with eight to 10 blooms on every plant. For more tips on growing orchids or to find a retailer near you, visit www.orchidsareeasy.com.

Next: We’ll be giving away 2 tickets to the New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show featuring Patrick Blanc’s vertical garden walls–stay tuned!

  • http://www.thegardenershollowleg.com Bobolinker

    Phalaenopsis aren’t the only ones that are easy to grow. Cimbidiums are equally easy to grow out of doors (where I live in the San Francisco Bay Area) and proliferate like crazy. You will be dividing and sharing these orchids in just a couple of seasons. One of our pots filled with a proliferated plant produced 17 big spikes in a single season.

    The Phalaenopsis are particularly interesting in how they make spikes and continue to produce blossoms off of what one might have thought of were “spent” spikes, incapable of producing more flowers. If you cut back the spike four or five nodes while the spike still has healthy flowers on it, it will cause the plant to produce a side spike off the original that will then produce more flowers. It takes patience, but it’s fun to watch this happen over time – and rewarding.

  • http://gardenbytes.com Ellen Spector Platt

    Beware of ordering orchid plants for mail order delivery during the winter cold months (If we ever have them again). I just was asked to examine a neighbor’s 3 gift orchids that came from Hawaii totally frozen. I pronounced them DOA after trying my best to nurse them back to health for two weeks.

  • http://blog.gardenmediagroup.com Katie

    Love it! So many people are afraid of growing orchids- but they are my favorite!!

  • Alaina

    I bought a Orchid plant from the grocery store. It’s called “Just Add Ice” Orchids ( http://justaddiceorchids.com/ ). I’m not sure if anyone has ever heard of them – but all you have to do it put 3 ice cubes in in them once a week. It hasn’t died yet but I’m not sure if it’s doing okay…It’s pretty though.

  • http://Www.twostudsandahammer.com Joe

    The ice cube method is how I water all my orchids. Easy peasy :)

  • http://www.abercrombieparis.eu.com abercrombie paris

    Merci beaucoup pour le partage de l’article sur la trésorerie. C’est un article génial. J’ai bien aimé l’article beaucoup lors de la lecture. Merci pour le partage d’un tel article merveilleux. Je tiens à dire très merci pour ces précieuses informations grands

  • Amanda

    I also have an ice cube watered Phalaenopsis, but I just read on another care site that you should not water them with cold water. Is that really true? Also, I read that you should not water them with softened water. If both these points are true my orchid is doomed :/ This is what I have been doing for almost a month now and have lost 2 blooms. What is everyone else doing?

  • Robin Plaskoff Horton

    Amanda, you can visit the Costa Farms website to read more about caring for orchids: http://www.costafarms.com/Public/PlantLibraryView.aspx?Id=57&Letter=P
    Hope this helps!

  • http://Quintessenceblog.com Qintessence

    I have managed to kill orchids before. I’ll have to give it a try again with your excellent advice!

  • Robin Plaskoff Horton

    Stacey–I am not much better really, which is why I needed some sound advice!

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