Growing orchids has a reputation as being frustrating and challenging, but with great rewards. The reality is that these beautiful flowering plants are often no more difficult to care for than a typical house plant. There is a great variety among the orchid family, making it difficult to generalise their care. What is good for one type in one climate may not be good for another type in the same climate or a different one. However, there are some basic rules of thumb that you should begin with. Follow the specific instructions for your particular variety of orchid, if you have them.
Water a potted orchid once a week in summer and every 10 days in winter. Run water over the pot for about 30 seconds, letting most of the water drain out the bottom. The goal is to thoroughly soak the roots without the soil retaining too much water, which promotes rot. Don't pour water over the leaves or blooms.
Pour a pint of half-strength fertiliser near the base of the orchid after watering each week. Use a balanced 20-20-20 plant food.
Different varieties of orchids have very different light requirements but the one thing you should always do is keep them out of direct sunlight. Filtered light is best. Either place them away from the direct line of a window, or place them in a window with a sheer white curtain.
Re-pot the orchid every 2 years with a bigger pot to prevent the plant from becoming root-bound. A more important reason to re-pot is to refresh the soil. New potting material has more nutrients than old, used-up material. You can buy an orchid mix or get some from someone else who grows orchids. It typically consists of fir bark, perlite and possibly charcoal.
Contact a local orchid grower or orchid society for the best information and plants. Look for contact information online or on bulletin boards at your local garden centre. The American Orchid Society is another good resource.