Orchids are popular houseplants that can make a beautiful addition to any home. However, most orchids are native to tropical habitats and maintaining optimum conditions for them to thrive in UK homes can be difficult. Caring for an orchid correctly can lead to its unique flowers blooming once or twice a year, while poor orchid care can cause failure to bloom at all. There are many varieties of orchid, each with slightly different requirements, and choosing the right orchid for the conditions in your home can help its chances of survival. Some care advice, however, applies to most varieties.
Maintain the right temperature. Different species of orchid have varying temperature requirements and it is important to make sure that a room is not too cold for them. Keeping a thermometer in the room with an orchid and choosing a species with cooler temperature requirements for colder rooms can help the plants to thrive.
Choose the right location. It is essential that an orchid has the correct amount of light for its needs. Most orchids prefer bright conditions, but like to be kept away from direct sunlight. East or west-facing windows are an ideal location for orchids with medium to high light requirements. Orchids with lower light requirements are better suited to north-facing windows.
Don’t give orchids to much water. Overwatering and wet compost can cause an orchid’s roots to rot, killing the plant. Most orchids thrive in humid conditions and survive well by getting moisture from the air in humid rooms. Spraying the plants and their aerial roots with a little soft water each day can be an effective way to water orchids without causing roots to rot. Alternatively, enough water to fill an egg cup can be given to the plant once a week, from above. Any water that collects on the dish under the pot should be poured away immediately.
Feed orchids with liquid fertiliser. Liquid orchid fertiliser can be added to water and given to the plant with its normal water requirements once every three weeks. However, orchids need less water and feed in the winter when they require a rest period in order to continue blooming year after year. Instructions should be followed carefully. It's important to avoid overfeeding, which can cause damage to an orchid’s roots.
Prune stems after flowering. Once a plant's flowers have died, it's a good idea to remove the stems that held them. A stem should be cut immediately above its lowest node, helping the node to develop into a new bloom. Aerial roots should never be cut, as this can cause serious damage to the orchid.