How to Grow: Orchids

Learn about the easiest orchids to grow and how to care for them.

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orchidsThey’re everywhere. In garden centers, florist shops, grocery stores and home centers. You’d think with such popularity, orchids would be easy to take care of. But, one of my frequent gardening questions is, how do I get my orchids to bloom again?

First of all, the easiest and most widely available orchid type is the moth orchid. It comes in a variety of beautiful flower colors, blooms for months and can grow in our low light, dry homes in winter. But after the initial flowering is finished, then what?

Moth orchids need an indirectly lit, bright area, such as an East facing window, to grow well. Too little light, and they won’t bloom. Too much light and the leaves get dark green or even scorched. The potting medium for moth orchids is a mix of bark and sphagnum moss. It’s important to keep the medium evenly moist, but not wet. Let it dry out a little between waterings.

Moth orchid flower spikes should form now and bloom from winter until spring. To initiate flower spike formation, the orchid needs about a 15 degree temperature differential from day to night. That’s why many moth orchids don’t bloom again indoors because our indoor temperatures stay steady in fall and winter. Try moving the orchid into a cooler, protected spot where it won’t freeze, such as an unheated porch, for a week. Once flowering, don’t overwater or the flowers will fold and drop. Once the flowers fade naturally, cut the flower spike off at the base and transplant your moth orchid into an orchid pot with a potting mix. Orchid pots have openings on the sides to promote air flow. Fertilize your moth orchids every other week when they’re actively growing. Reduce to monthly when they’re dormant.

From the Vermont Garden Journal.

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