The Orchidaceae are a diverse and widespread family of flowering plants, with blooms that are often colourful and fragrant, commonly known as the orchid family. Along with the Asteraceae, they are one of the two largest families of flowering plants.
Orchids, such as phalaenopsis, cymbidium, cattleya, crucifix, dendrobium, moth, dancing lady, vanda, slipper, jewel and monkey face, are so popular because of their beauty and the variety of colours their flowers come in.
What makes them difficult to care for is that beginners tend to over-water them. When it comes to watering an orchid, the golden rule is to ensure the plant is not constantly sitting in water so that it causes the roots to rot.
The tools you need to care for orchids:
- A cutting tool, such as gardening shears or scissors, to remove rotting roots.
- Orchid fertilizer - a 20-20-20 nutrient ratio is considered a general fertilizer to use on the majority of orchids.
- Bamboo stakes and spike clips - a lot or orchids already come with a stake and clips when you buy them, but it can’t hurt to have a couple of extra ones on hand.
Guide: How to take care of orchids
Although orchids are commonly found growing wild in tropical rainforests, they do not need heavy watering.
According to Interflora, ice cubes are one of the best and easiest ways to make sure you are not over-watering your plants. Depending on the season and where the orchid is kept, pop one cube twice a week on top of the potting medium underneath the leaves. Be mindful to ensure no water is left standing in the pot and if possible, remove any excess water if you notice any water pooling on the orchid. You can also tell that there is too much water if the pot has become very heavy and sloshes when you tilt it.
Another easy way to judge if the orchid needs watering is to use your finger to poke deep into the pot:
- If the mix is wet or damp - don't water it
- If the mix is dry - water it
When watering the orchid, make sure to water the soil and not the plant directly. You can tell an orchid is getting too much water if the leaves start turning yellow.
You can provide humidity to the area around the orchid by either spritzing only the leaves with a mist of water a few times or by setting the plant on top of a dish filled with moist or wet gravel.
Avoid direct sunlight for your plants, instead place them in bright shade. If the plant starts to look like its drying out and getting too much sun, try moving the orchid further away from the window.
After the flowers drop from the orchid you have three choices: leave the flower spike (or stem) intact, cut it back to a node, or remove it entirely. Remove the flower spike entirely by clipping it off at the base of the plant. This is definitely the route to take if the existing stem starts to turn brown or yellow. Withered stems won’t produce flowers. Removing the stem will direct the +plant’s energy toward root development, which makes for a healthier plant and increased chances for new bloom spikes.