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 cycles (two weeks to three months), they’re the tropical twofer–a winter pick-me-up that blooms almost to spring. But how do we get them to bloom again? This a question we often hear at the store. Read on for descriptions of five easy-to-grow orchids.
If you’re an Instagrammer, check out this fun Instagram feeds for great pictures and information on orchids. All About Orchids,
and The American Orchid Society, @aaorchids @americanorchidsociety.
Cattleya (Corsage Orchid)
Light: These orchids prefer bright light. Place in eastern or western windows; south windows will need protection (sheers on windows).
Temperature: 55 °-60° at night, 70 °-85 ° daytime.
Watering: Cattleyas store water in their pseudobulbs and roots. Smaller Cattleyas need more frequent watering than larger ones. Potted in bark mixes, allow to dry out completely between watering.
Bloom time: Spring or Fall/1-3 weeks.
Fertilize: Use a diluted (1/4) orchid fertilizer once a week, and flush out accumulated salts once a month.
Light: Put these orchids in the maximum light minus direct sunlight from Spring to Autumn.
Temperature: In spring, move outdoors when temperatures are consistently above 40 °. Keep indoors at regular household temperatures. Move back indoors before the first light frost.
Watering: Keep substrate moist during the growing season, barely wet 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, balanced orchid fertilizer (20-20-20). In late fall/early winter, once every three weeks. Mid-winter once a month.
Light: Vary from bright to almost completely 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 needs 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 grown in moss or on slabs.
Paphiopedilum (Lady Slipper Orchid)
Light: A low-light orchid and an east-facing window are best.
Temperature: 60 °-65° at night. 70°-75° during the day.
Watering: Every five days in bark substrate. Water in the 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 west-facing, use sheers on windows to keep it shaded.
Temperature: 60 ° above at night, 70 °-80 ° daytime.
Watering: Once weekly if in a bark substrate. Suppose planted in moss, water when the moss is dry to the touch. Water in the 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.
Written by Cinthia Milner, landscape consultant, and blog writer.
B.B. Barns serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina, and Tennessee.