Quick and Easy Steps to Orchid Care and Culture

by Mary Ann

There really is not much difference at all between growing orchids and growing other plants. All plants really need the same care to be healthy and this consists of meeting their basic needs in terms of water, food, warmth, sun and air.

Orchids require these same basics to grow and thrive โ€“ it is only the amounts which separate them from other types of plants. The amount needed of each of these elements for growth also separates orchids from one another.

Orchid care begins with providing the right humidity level for the type of orchid you intend to grow. Generally speaking, orchids need between 40% and 70% humidity day after day.

While most plants control water evaporation, orchids cannot, and are constantly in a state of losing water. The only controlling factor is the amount of humidity in the air.

Know how much humidity your orchid is going to require before purchasing it.

If you are growing orchids, you need to supply continuous atmospheric moisture, whether it be by hosing the garden or inside, by spraying the plants, setting them over trays of water or keeping them in a container such as a glass environment where you can control the humidity levels.

Humidity is not a problem in cold weather. You should follow periods of humidity by a time of drying out. This is similar to having morning sun followed by an afternoon shower, and then morning sun once again the next day.

Air is another necessity of orchids.

In nature, orchids often grow up trees because they have excellent air circulation. While all plants pull carbon dioxide from the air, orchids are extremely efficient about it.

Good ventilation is essential to growing healthy orchids indoors. A ceiling fan is good for air circulation. Even indoor orchids need fresh clean air inside so open a window whenever possible. If itโ€™s cold outside, arrange it so the air is warmed before it hits the plants. For example, open the window from the top and not the bottom.

Place your orchids where they will get the most sunlight they can without suffering any ill effects, such as sunburn.

Orchids need lots of light–around ten hours per day. This light should not be at full intensity at all times so start them out in the sun and then move themย  to shadier spots or filter the light through curtains until you achieve the desired effect.

Orchids need to be protected from frost and snow. Many orchids grow naturally where temperatures dip well below freezing. In the Andes, for instance, temperatures in the 20s are not terribly uncommon.

But you must be very attentive to colder temperatures, and orchids that do experience cooler temperatures must remain dry. Cold and wet are not good conditions for growing orchids.

Cooler orchids are those said to need a temperature averaging fifty degrees. Check out temperature charts online or in orchid books for which orchids do best at certain temperatures.

Your orchids need to be fed. That is a step of orchid care not to be ignored. Some growers still argue about what orchids need to be fed and how much. But, especially if you are a beginner, you will want to do everything possible to have healthy orchids.

Begin by using orchid liquid fertilizer, whether it be synthetic or organic. Most orchids today are planted in osmunda, or dead fern roots, which decomposes.

Always check your orchids for yellowish or brownish discolorations which might mean the plants are malnourished. Check out recipes for nutrient fertilizers online.

If you meet these basics of orchid care and culture, you should have no trouble at all being successful at growing orchids. As long as they have the basics of food, air, humidity, protection and light, orchids will respond positively.

13 Responses
  1. Jacob Locke permalink

    Hi Mary Ann, I have found that using a cool vivarium allows you to set up and maintain an artificially pleasing environment for your more temperature and humidity sensitive orchids. For instance, the Dracula Rezekiana orchid is a small hot/cold growing epiphyte distributed across Ecuador and Peru where it grows at elevations from 800 โ€“ 1700 meters. It thrives in quite varied circumstances in nature. From lower elevations where it is a bit warmer up to 1700 meters where it is a bit cooler, but mainly where there is a larger temperature difference between day/night. They all require pretty high relative humidity. So putting them on the windowsill will not cut it most times. To give them the humidity they require, putting them in a cool vivarium will allows one much greater control over the environmental conditions and will illicit much better results. Hope this helps. I am in the process of putting together a site with horticulturalist Wendy Bushell. We are still in our early stages, but the address is Orchid Gardeners. Thanks for the great blog!

    All the best,


  2. Neil permalink

    I had 35 orchids blooming at once outside cataleys

  3. anon permalink

    Sorry Jacob- not to criticize you on the humidity but here are the differences between actual humidity and relative humidity. Actual humidity is the amount of moisture and water vapor in the air at ANY given time. Relative humidity is the amount of moisture that air at a certain temperature can hold. The warmer the air temp, the more moisture it can hold— and the cooler the air temp, the less moisture it can hold. Going by relative humidity is a VERY very bad thing to do as you will not get accurate readings because you are not looking at actual humidity but the amount of moisture that that air temperature can hold or is holding. In my experience, relative humidity tends to be less than the actual humidity depending on time of day and where you live and how warm or cold and moist or dry the air is. I need to keep my orchids in a terrarium as the actual humidity in any room here is only about 10-15% and even at the best times is only about 30-40% but being in a tank, the air has 90% + humidity at any time. I would recommend that anyone who has moisture loving orchids, get a humidity gage that is within 1% of actual humidity. It is important to make sure you have accurate readings and also for anyone who has extra time, taking measurements throughout the day to see when the humidity peaks and drops and what adds the most humidity. just my 2 cents everyone

  4. All about Orchid Care permalink

    Thank you for the quick and easy steps to orchid care. Orchids are really good and nice to grow, they are indeed amazing. Thank you for sharing such informative tips. Keep it up and more power.

  5. I would also mention that if natural light is not possible for the ten hours, artificial light can
    also be used.


  6. Grace C permalink

    Yes, you can get grow-light from garden stores as a substitute for natural light. It pretty works the same and offers the required light for your orchid plant.

  7. Sherida Maharajh permalink

    Hi Mary Ann,thank you for the orchid tip you send me.Right now I am having some problems with my orchids,some of them has a lot of brown spots on the leaves,,others something is eating their roots and some are not flowering.Right now I am feeling like giving up.


  8. Matt permalink

    Some superb information on this blog regarding orchids, trully amazing.

    Growing Orchids For Beginners

  9. Mary Ann permalink*

    Thank you to everyone for your wonderful comments. ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Sherida – For the not flowering – it may not be their bloom cycle at this time. It depends on the kind of orchid you have. So that could be nothing.
    The brown spots on the leaves could be because of the type of water you are using, sunburn, or a fungal infection. Sometimes if you give a plant too much direct sunlight, you can burn them. The roots could be slugs or a fungal infection.

    I can understand you feeling like giving up at this point! But I hope that you will investigate a little further. You can always take them to a local expert or grower that can look at the problems and help you with exactly what to do. All of these things can be treated, but I can completely understand feeling overwhelmed! I hope you’ve hung in there.

  10. Orchids Pictures permalink

    Wow Thanks for information.

  11. Privas permalink

    I have 2 so far, one fully bloom and the other 1 grew a new leaf and has new roots but no blooms yet. I am wondering if I have to buy a fertilizer will it grew a new stem of blooms again? I cut it down as I was suggested by the American Orchid Association.

  12. Mary Ann permalink*

    You can use a fertilizer and get good results. Here is a helpful link about orchid fertilizer. ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope that helps! – Mary Ann

  13. Frenond Dasalla permalink

    Thank you for sharing this very informative guide for beginners. I am a beginner and I really need guidance on growing orchids. These guides help me a lot to grow my orchids. Orchids are expensive, so I would like to take of them to the best I can, but without proper guide, it would be a guessing game how to grow the orchids. Guessing in the sense that I have no idea what temperature they adapt very well, as well as humidity. I never knew that these are important to the orchid to have a healthy growth. Thank you for the time to write these guides.

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