How to Grow Orchids in Perlite

Written by emma watkins
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How to Grow Orchids in Perlite
Orchids add a soft feel to any environment. (Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Perlite is a growing medium with a neutral pH, sterile and well aerated. Because of these features, it's usually added to potting mixes. Orchids grow well as indoor potted plants, as they're cold sensitive, and most do poorly when the temperature drops below 15.6 degrees Celsius. They also need sun protection, producing better flowers when growing in filtered light. Clemson Cooperative Extension also states that an easy way to kill an orchid is to let it sit in water. Perlite provides very good drainage, which prevents any such mishap.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Nursery orchid
  • Pot
  • Water

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  1. 1

    Buy a healthy nursery orchid. If it's a young seedling, you're able to transplant it into perlite right away. But if it's a mature plant, wait until it's actively growing. The Central Vancouver Island Orchid Society explains that this gives the established plant the chance to develop a new root system adapted to perlite.

  2. 2

    Remove the potting mix the orchid came planted in from its roots. Shake as much as possible of the old growing medium off.

  3. 3

    Trim any broken roots.

  4. 4

    Moisten the perlite before filling the pot with it.

  5. 5

    Place the orchid in the centre of the pot and hold it with one hand. Use your other hand to add the moist perlite under and around it. When the pot is filled, firm the perlite around the base of your orchid with your palm. Plant the orchid 1 inch deeper than it grew in the nursery pot.

  6. 6

    Apply a layer of pea gravel on top of the perlite surface. It keeps the plant anchored in place and prevents perlite runoff when you water the orchid. The pea gravel also reduces water evaporation.

  7. 7

    Repot your orchids in fresh perlite every two years. Recycle the old perlite by mixing it with your garden soil.

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