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Pampering Your Orchid – Orchid Care for Beginners

Posted on October 24, 2017 in House + Home, Indoor & Tropical Plants

Written by West Coast Gardens

With many houseplants you can bring them home and they’re content to spend lazy days looking out the window, with a drink now and then, easy-going no matter whether it’s sunny or cloudy. Like a retired guy at his lake house, just enjoying life. Orchids, on the other hand, are more like a sophisticated woman who spends her days at the spa. Not overly complicated or time consuming – just a bit of a self-indulgent plant. When you take care of one of these elegant and exotic beauties, your home becomes their spa, which means a little bit of pampering is in order. Better break out the terry-robes and cucumber slices!

There’s a thin line between golden brown and burned when you’re getting a tan. And we all know what happens if you forget to roll over at the right time – burned toast! Although orchids love to bask in the sun (definitely poolside tanners!) they cover-up when it comes to direct sunlight. Preferring to get their rays from an east or south direction, their leaves will become scorched if they are placed in direct sunshine. 

You can control how much sun they get by moving them closer to, or farther away from, your windows. Their preferred tanned hue is an even grassy green colour on their leaves. If their leaves are a dark green then they are probably not getting enough light and need to book some time at the tanning beds. Brown spots on their leaves, or dried leaves, generally means too much direct light.

Mexico or Bali? Choosing the right temperature.

While you’re pampering your orchid, take measure of the temperature in your home. Do you turn all the heat off at night? Is it like a sauna during the day? Orchids do enjoy a difference in temperature between night and day, preferring a 15 degree drop at night.

Orchids can be tolerant of changing seasonal temperatures but will definitely call the spa manager to inquire about any extreme temperature differences. If you have air conditioning or heating vents, make sure your orchids aren’t placed near them as the extreme changes in temperatures will cause your orchid to drop buds, lose leaves or simply give you a two star rating on Yelp!

Going for a dip in the pool! How much water will your orchid need?

The orchid is not an Olympic swimmer. It will never need gallons of water and is much more likely to perish from overwatering than underwatering. A quick dip in the hot tub and your orchid is happy! This means pouring tepid water through your orchid’s pot, letting it drain out into the sink, and then not watering it again until it’s dry. You can tell that your orchid is dry by both the weight of the pot, and by using your finger to poke the bark and medium it’s planted in.

However, the sauna is where your Orchid really loves to luxuriate. Humidity is important to them, as they like to stay hydrated during the day with 50-75% humidity. You don’t have to spend a lot of time blending green smoothies or making lavender sprays, but a dish of water with pebbles or a small humidifier would certainly be appreciated! A lovely zen fountain is another idea to add humidity and calm to your day spa.

Open seafood buffet? How to feed an orchid

Our pampered orchid friend doesn’t like to overeat, and would rather have smaller portions of food every week rather than a full portion once a month. “Weakly weekly” is the term used, and we suggest a 20-20-20 fertilizer at about ¼ strength every time you water. The good news is you don’t have to break out the crab and lobster for your new orchid, this plant can get a lot of mileage out of an appetizer!

Particular, but not needy, the orchid remains a sophisticated plant that blooms brilliantly and won’t call for room service too often. Develop a routine to make it an easy habit and orchid care will be a snap! (Now if we could just say the same thing about that woman in room 130 who keeps insisting on sparkling water and hourly massages).

Already have a succulent and want to try an orchid as well? We have a beautiful planter idea for you featuring both these amazing plants, with a quick DIY instructional video.