Miniature orchids make gorgeous indoor plants, due in part to their small size. Unlike the typical tall, wiry orchid, miniature orchids are less than 15 cm (6 inches) tall. They come in a variety of colours and sizes, and some, such as the Encyclia bracteata, bloom for two months. Others have a light scent that brings extra freshness to the house. Once they have carefully prepared soil and a cosy spot near a window, miniature orchids are relatively low maintenance.
Plant your miniature orchid in appropriate soil. The most popular is chopped-up bark from Douglas, red or white fir trees. Other choices that promote orchid growth include tree fern trunk, perlite volcanic glass, volcanic rock such as scoria (an especially helpful choice if orchids are kept outdoors) or a soil mix of sand, loam, bark and perlite.
Position your orchid in a window or under fluorescent and incandescent lights. In her book "Miniature Orchids and How to Grow Them," Rebecca Tyson Northen recommends 25 watts of incandescent light for every 100 watts of fluorescent light. If your plant sits in a window, provide shade when the hot summer sun blasts in to keep the orchid from burning.
Keep your orchid in a moderate environment. Most orchids prefer temperatures below 29.4 degrees Celsius (85 F) and 40 to 60 per cent humidity. An occasional draft won't hurt, but keep your orchid away from gusty winds, especially if temperatures are extreme.
Prop up your orchid with a stake. Note that wooden stakes need occasional replacement, as they tend to rot.
Water when the surface of the soil becomes dry, and let the water drain out thoroughly. Most miniature orchids prefer dry conditions and cannot survive if the soil gets soggy. An exception is the challenging Maxillaria sophronitis, which likes moisture and cool temperatures.
If you need to repot your orchid, wait until you see new roots starting to grow. Spring and summer are also safe times, as the days are long and growth is quick.
Tips and warnings
- If you need to repot your orchid, wait until you see new roots starting to grow. Spring and summer are also safe times, as the days are long and growth is quick.