Growing Orchids as Houseplants

Sheffield & District Orchid Society

General Cultivation Notes

The types of orchids that we grow in our greenhouses, conservatories or in the home would naturally grow in rainforests all over the world. We try to recreate these conditions to get the best from our plants and this need not be as hard as you think.

TEMPERATURE: Orchids usually fall into 1 of 3 categories – cool, intermediate or warm;

Cool:                     winter minimum 10°C (50°F) summer maximum 22°C (75°F)

Intermediate:         winter minimum 12°C (55°F) summer maximum 25°C (80°F)

Warm:                  winter minimum 18°C (65°F) summer maximum 27°C (85°F)

The winter minimum temperatures are more vital for night-time and it is natural for there to be a rise and fall between day and night and between the seasons.

LIGHT: Orchids do not like bright light, in the rainforests only dappled light will reach them through the leafy canopy. Direct sun, especially in summer, can burn their leaves quite easily so keep them in dappled shade during the warmest months. In winter when the sun is not so strong, full light is fine and indeed necessary to help them to flower well the following season.

WATERING & HUMIDITY: Rainforests are naturally humid places so to create this at home you can grow other suitable companion plants such as ferns and air plants with your orchids. Misting the foliage and aerial roots several times a week, especially in warmer conditions will help the humidity. Take care when misting Phalaenopsis however that the water does not collect in the crown of the plant. Stand the pots on damp pebbles and the moisture will evaporate around the plants. When it comes to actually watering the plants, do not rely on them taking up water from underneath the pot as this can lead to the compost becoming too wet. Instead take your plant to the sink and water from above, letting it run through the open bark- based compost. This is usually done 1 – 2 times a week with a little orchid fertiliser every 2nd or 3rd watering.

Avoid standing your orchids anywhere too hot and dry in the home. Directly above a radiator or television can provide a lot of dry heat, which simply dehydrates the plants more quickly. A bathroom or kitchen can often be the best places as these naturally are a little more humid.

Many houses now have conservatories attached to them and these can make ideal orchid growing areas. Shade, ventilation and humidity for summer and insulation and heating for winter are necessary though, so a few adjustments are usually required to make the conservatory “orchid friendly”. If these changes are not made then a conservatory can be quite desert-like with hot, bright and dry summers and cold winters, far from ideal for orchids.

Clean your orchids as well as your furniture! Household dust will collect on their leaves so wipe them regularly to keep them healthy and looking good.

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