Orchids are native to every continent except Antarctica. That's good news because it means that for any given setting and environment, there's probably an orchid that will feel at home.
These beautiful plants may appear to be fragile and delicate, but they're actually quite durable. In fact, many orchids are even easy to care for. Before you bring one home, though, know what its light and care requirements are so you can give it exactly what it needs.
Here's what to look for when shopping for an orchid:
The showiest orchids come from the humid equatorial regions of the planet, and once you get your plant home, much of your work will consist of approximating its natural environment. Here's what you need to do:
Although orchids enjoy being root-bound, they'll need to be repotted when the potting mix has broken down, usually every two years. Choose a time after the orchid has finished blooming; flowers could fall because of the stress of repotting.
How to repot your orchid:
Becky Brinkman is a longtime manager of the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Fuqua Orchid Center which is home to one of the country’s largest collections of species orchids. We asked Becky for her best orchid-care tips.
Let the plant dry out a little between waterings. Rather than adopting a rigid watering schedule that ignores the individual circumstance of your plant, do a check-in of your orchid daily, testing the soil to see if it is overly dry. Pay attention to the condition of your orchid's soil and water when it gets too dry.
The conventional peat moss-based houseplant soil orchids are grown and sold in retains moisture and breaks down quickly. In addition, after two years most orchids have outgrown their pot and will need a larger pot and fresh growing medium. When repotting your orchid Brinkman recommends you use a a coarse-textured potting mix that promotes air circulation, such as the combination of bark/charcoal/perlite.
Give your orchid intense sunlight. An east-facing windowsill is good.
Go Slow With the Fertilizer
Don’t overdo it with the fertilizer. Cut the dosage by half for these light feeders.