Orchids. Who can resist them? Part of the largest and oldest flowering plant families on earth, they’re showy, colorful and like the same temperatures we like, making them the ideal indoor houseplants that bloom. Typically blooming in late fall to early spring with long bloom cycles (two weeks to three months) they’re the tropical towfer–a winter-pick-me-up that blooms almost to spring. But, how do we get them to bloom again? A question we often hear at the store. Read on for descriptions of five easy-to-grow orchids, then watch a quick video with tips on getting new blooms.

If you’re an Instagrammer, check out these fun Instagram feeds for great pictures and information on orchids. All About Orchids, @aaorchids and The American Orchid Society, @americanorchidsociety.


Cattleya (Corsage Orchid)


Light: These orchids prefer bright light. Place in eastern or western window, south windows will need some protection (sheers on windows). 

Temperature: 55°-60° at night, 70°-85° daytime. 

Watering: Cattleyas store water in their psuedobulbs and roots. Potted in bark mixes, allow to dry out completely between watering. Smaller Cattelyas need more frequent watering than the larger ones.

Bloom time: Spring or Fall/1-3 weeks. 

Fertilize: Use a diluted (1/4) orchid fertilizer once a week, and flush out acculumated salts once a month.  


Cymbidium (Boat Orchid)


Light: Spring to Autumn put these orchids in maximum amount of light minus direct sunlight. 

Temperature: In spring move outdoors when temperatures are consistently above 40°.  Move back indoors prior to first light frost. Keep indoors at regular household temperatures.

Watering: Keep substrate moist during growing season, barely moist during the winter. These need water to bloom. 

Bloom time: Winter-to-spring/4-6 weeks. Like the Phalaeopnisis they need the temperature differential to set spikes in late fall to early winter.

Fertilizer: Every two weeks from March to September with an a balanced orchid fertilizer (20-20-20). In late fall/early winter, once every three weeks. Mid-winter once a month.


Oncidium (Dancing-Lady)


Light: Vary from bright to almost full direct depending on the variety. East, south or west windows are ideal.

Temperature: 55°-60° at night. 80°-85° at night.

Watering: Needs will vary depending on variety. Plant with large, fleshy roots or leaves need less than thin-leaved or thin-rooted. Medium should be halfway dry before watering again.

Bloom time: Winter-to-Spring/6 weeks to 2 months. Cut spike back immediately after blooming to redirect energy to plant, new bloom spikes begin on new pseudobulbs.

Fertilize: Twice monthly using an orchid fertilizer (30-20-20) if planted in bark substrate. 20-20-20 if planted in moss or on slabs.


Paphiopedilum (Lady Slipper Orchid)

Light: A low light orchid, and east facing window is best. 

Temperature: 60°-65° at night. 70°-75° during the day.

Watering: Every five days in bark substrate. Water in sink and allow to drain completely.

Bloom time: Varies/4-6 weeks

Fertilizer:  Balanced orchid fertilizer (20-20-20) weekly at diluted strength of 1/4. Flush monthly to remove accumulated salts.


Phalaenopsis (Moth Orchid)


Light: These are low light orchids. Their preference is an east window. If the window is south or western facing, use sheers on windows to keep shaded.

Temperature: 60° above at night, 70°-80° daytime.

Watering: Once weekly if in a bark substrate. If planted in moss, water when the moss is dry to the touch. Water in sink using tepid water until it drains.

Bloom time: Winter-to-spring/2-6 months. 

Fertilize: A balanced orchid fertilizer (20-20-20) 1/2 strength once a week. Flush out residual salts once a month. 

Cynthia Gillooly gives us instructions on getting Phalaenopsis to re-bloom. These tips apply to your other orchids, as well. Questions? Come in and ask Cynthia all of your ordhid questions. 

Written by Cinthia Milner, garden coach and blog writer.

BB Barns serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina and Tennessee.