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How to Care for Orchids

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Colorful orchid varieties next to a windowsill

Plants bring calmness, joy, and beauty to indoor and outdoor spaces because of their stunning flowers, while others present beautiful foliage. One such popular plant is orchids. They are beautiful houseplants. Orchids make incredible decorations for interior spaces due to their beautifully patterned and colored flowers. 
They can be maintained as houseplants and outdoor gardens. Whether you grow the orchids indoors or outdoors, they will be the star of attention, thanks to their unique blooms and branch arcs.
Keep reading to learn more about orchids, their various types, and how to care for them indoors and outdoors. This guide will also help beginners select their favorite orchids to have them in interior spaces or outdoors.

About Orchids

Orchids, or Orchidaceae members, are the oldest and largest family of flowering plants on earth. Almost 1,000 genera and 30,000 species of these flowering plants occupy the wet climates. They are everywhere on land and can grow in any environment—thanks to their resilient nature, on all continents, and add beauty, except in Antarctica. 
For many years, orchids have had a reputation as tough plants, making them difficult to grow and afford. However, with advancements in propagation techniques, the orchid plant is almost in every home, mainly for its beautiful blooms. They are affordable now and are easy to grow as houseplants with proper care.
Most importantly, the orchids are not problematic plants but need different care depending on different orchid varieties.
Depending upon their origins, some orchids are epiphytes—they grow on the sides of trees or other plants for anchorage and absorb nutrients and water from the air. These orchids are native to Asia, the subtropical region of South America, and Australia.
Others are lithophytic—they prefer to grow on rocks. The orchids from the temperate areas are all terrestrial and prefer well-draining soils.

Note Icon
Fun Fact
Interestingly, orchid fragrances aim to attract pollinators to orchid flowers. Many orchid varieties have single-type birds and insects to pollinate their flowers. 

Orchid Flowers

These tropical plants are easy to spot because of their exquisite blooms of different colors and branch arcs known as spikes. Orchid flowers are of different shapes, colors, and patterns based on different types of orchids. Some produce blooms of bright red, pink, magenta, blue, yellow, and wholly black or white.
In contrast, other orchids produce stripped or spotted flowers with a unique combination of colors. The blooms can last from one week to four months under good growing conditions. Some orchid varieties can produce bloom throughout the year with proper care, while others only bloom once a year.
This flowering plant's foliage is light green with intricate mottling and variegations and is covered with a thick layer of waxy films to prevent water loss. Orchids are fragrant with pleasant fragrances like orange, lime, coconut, cinnamon, wintergreen, and watermelon. While some orchid leaves smell like rotten meat.
Orchids are divided into three groups based on their growth temperature requirements. These are;
  1. Intermediate temperature growing—Cattleya, Cambria, and Oncidium
  2. Cool temperature orchids—Dendrobium, Cymbidium, and Odontoglossum
  3. Warm temperature orchids—Phalaenopsis and Vanda

Quick Orchid Care Guide

Dendrobium spp., Oncidium papilio (Butterfly orchid), Epidendrum radicans, Lypantherus spp., Calanthe triplicata 
Orchid, King orchid, Ironbark orchid, Moth orchid, Lady’s Slipper orchid
Orchidaceae
Herbaceous perennials, some have a vinelike appearance, shrubby
Epiphytic, lithophytic, and terrestrial
Well-draining soil, aerated
5.5-6.5
1 foot
Bright, indirect sunlight
50-70% relative humidity
65-85 degrees Fahrenheit (ideal)
Asia, Austalia, Thailand, India, Temperate regions
Not toxic to pets
Botanical Names
Common Names
Family
Plant Type
Growth Habit
Soil Type
Soil pH
Mature Size
Sun Exposure
Humidity
Temperature
Native Origin
Toxicity
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How to Grow Phalaenopsis Orchids (Moth Orchids)

Phalaenopsis or moth orchids are popular houseplants and stars of attention in outdoor gardens because of their exquisite flowers and ease of growing and maintaining. It blooms throughout the year with little care.
The best growing conditions for this beautiful orchid are bark medium, bright indirect light, and good humidity levels with temperatures of 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

📚 Moth Orchids Cheat Sheet

  • Light: Bright to moderate, indirect light for 4-6 hrs. Avoid more than 1-2 hours of direct sunlight.
  • Temperatures: Daytime temperatures of 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Nighttime temperatures of 65-60 degrees Fahrenheit, as low as 50
  • Humidity: 60-70% ideal
  • Soil (Container): well-draining bark or peat moss medium
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 10-12

Growing Indoors

When phalaenopsis is grown indoors, remember to replicate the growing conditions in which they grow in the wild. They thrive on other plants by attaching themselves to their stem or bark.
So, for indoor potted moth orchids, use a well-drained bark mixture or peat moss as a growing medium. Maintain high humidity (60 to 70%) with good air circulation.
During new flowers and growths, feed them with indoor orchids specific fertilizer. Once the blooms are finished and brown, cut down the spikes right three inches above the node. Then, provide them with reasonable care and temperature differences to rebloom the moth orchids. 

Growing Outdoors

It is easy to grow and maintain moth orchids outdoors. They thrive in USDA hardiness zones 10, 11, and 12.
Because they are epiphytes, you can mount these tropical flowering plants on a tree, rocks, or plant in a container filled with an orchid-specific growth medium.
While climbing them on other trees, make sure to provide them with warm, frost-free, and high humidity climates.

How to Grow Dendrobium Orchids

Dendrobiums are fond of cool temperatures and less humid conditions than moth orchids making them one of the easiest orchids to grow. They are epiphytes and famous for their linear leaves and exotic flowers. Like moth orchids, dendrobium needs little care to grow and bloom happily.
The optimum growing temperatures for dendrobium are 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and can tolerate as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit in winter.

📚 Dendrobium Orchids Cheat Sheet

  • Light: Bright to moderate, indirect light
  • Temperatures: 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit, as low as 50
  • Humidity: 50-70% ideal
  • Soil (Container): well-draining bark or peat moss medium
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 10-12

Growing Indoors

It is much easier to grow and maintain the dendrobium indoors by providing a suitable growth medium, light, and humidity. Use a small pot filled with dendrobium orchid-specific growth media, such as tree bark, moss, or coconut husk. It must have good drainage—a critical factor in orchids' growth and blooming.
Position the orchid pot on the windowsill of the south-facing or east-facing window. Maintain the temperatures at 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity levels of 50 to 70 percent. Keep misting the Dendrobium regularly and watering twice a week during the growing season.

Growing Outdoors

Dendrobium orchids need frost-free and cool temperatures to bloom happily outdoors. They grow best year round in USDA hardiness zones 10, 11, and 12. If you're growing outside of these zones, make sure to overwinter your Dendrobium during cooler months.
Mount them on a tree or a container filled with coconut husk with good drainage.
Keep them in the shade from June to August to prevent the foliage from burning.

How to Grow Cattleya Orchids

Cattleya is the most famous orchid mainly for its blossoms used to create corsages. Therefore, it is called as “Queen of Orchids.” Its flowers are fragrant and large, up to 8 in with a variety of vibrant colors, but only last for a few weeks compared with other orchids.
The best-suited temperature for cattleya is 64 to 68 for the night and 70 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit for the night.

📚 Cattleya Orchids Cheat Sheet

  • Light: Bright to moderate, indirect light for 4-6 hours.
  • Temperatures: Daytime temperatures of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit, Nighttime temperatures from 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Humidity: 50-80% ideal
  • Soil (Container): well-draining bark or peat moss medium
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 10-12

Growing Indoors

Cattleya are epiphytes and grow on other plants while absorbing nutrients from the air. Maintain the temperatures as per their growing habit. They prefer cool long nights with warm days and a high level of humidity—50 to 80%.
Use a growth medium of peat moss with good drainage and air circulation and place them in the south or east-facing windows.
You'll want to ensure your Cattleya orchid receives enough sunlight - at least 4-6 hours of bright light. It's foliage will start to turn darker than normal if it's not receiving enough light.

Growing Outdoors

Cattleya can be grown outdoors from June to late fall in a frost-free environment. Mount them on pine trees or shrubs under their canopy to provide them with filtered light.
Keep them in the shade to avoid prolonged direct sunlight; otherwise, the sun will burn the cattleya leaves.

How to Care for Orchids (Moth | Phalaenopsis)

Orchids are becoming popular houseplants not only because of their beautiful blooms but also because they are affordable and flower throughout the year, depending on the plant species. Thousands of species in the orchid family need different growing conditions. However,  good care of orchids means providing them with optimum growing conditions.
It includes indirect light, well-draining soil, good aeration, and repotting once a year for fast-growing orchid varieties. Also, avoid overwatering to discourage pest problems.
Adopting the following care guide, anyone, especially beginners, can make their favorite orchids bloom and thrive. These are;

💧 Water

Improper watering (overwatering or underwatering) is the common killer of orchids. So, water your plant, especially the Phalaenopsis, when the growing medium is mostly dry; do not water when the topsoil is still moist. As a general rule of thumb, water the moth orchid once every five or twelve days during the growing season.
To check if the orchid’s bark mixture is dry, press the fingers against the bark mixture and if it feels dry. Then give the Phals a good soak by placing them under the tap water. Allow a good amount of water to run over the plant until its aerial root color changes to bright green (an indication of good watering). Then, allow the water to drain and place the pot back on its windowsill.
Avoid getting the Orchid's crown (center where new leaves emerge from) wet to prevent crown rot.
Note Icon
Myth: Should I use ice cubes on my orchid?
Do not use ice cubes of water because it may give the aerial roots of Phalaenopsis cold shock and impact the single stem.
 Always use pots with suitable drainage holes and maintain good air circulation for all orchids, whether you are growing them indoors or outdoors.
Pro Tip Icon
Pro Tip
Always use a transparent plant pot for your orchids to check soil moisture and root health. Firm roots with a white coating indicate the health of orchids, while the soft and brown layers indicate unhealthy orchids. So, the aerial root color in orchids prevents problems of overwatering and underwatering.

☀️ Bright, Indirect Sunlight

All the flowering plants need a good amount of sun to bloom and grow happily. However, this is not the case for Phalaenopsis. They are low-light plants. So, they grow best with bright, indirect light, and try positioning them in south-facing or east-facing windows.
The foliage color in orchids hints at its light requirements. For example, dark green leaves indicate an inadequate light supply with no bloom. If the foliage color is fresh and soft green, it suggests the orchid has enough light to grow and bloom. 
Avoid direct sunlight exposure for more than 1-2 hours because it will scorch the orchid's leaves, while a red orchid leaf means too much light exposure.

🌡️ Warm Temperature

Moth orchids or Phalaenopsis love warm temperatures and bloom healthily at 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. However, they are sensitive to excessive heat (higher temperature and lower humidity—unsuitable for moths) and cold drafts. 
While other orchids perform best in climates below 50 degrees. The orchids do not grow well and flower at temperatures above 95 degrees Fahrenheit. 

🚿 Humidity is Key

Phalaenopsis love humid indoor environments, and humidity levels of 50 to 80% are ideal for them to grow and bloom well. These low-maintenance orchids can also grow well in low humid environments.
To keep the moth orchids happy during flowering time, provide enough humidity by placing it on a tray filled with water and pebbles. While in higher humidity, give the orchids uniform airflow with an overhead fan or a stationary fan to prevent fungal rot and diseases.
Pro Tip Icon
Keep away from air conditioners!
Orchids can be sensitive to temperature changes. Keep away from exterior doors, windows, and air conditioners.

🌻 Fertilize Well

The fertilizer requirements for the orchids vary greatly based on the plant species and the growing media in which the orchid is growing. So, be cautious while selecting the fertilizer for orchids and only apply those meant for these flowering plants.
Use the high-potassium orchid fertilizer once a week when the plant actively produces new growths. As the new growths mature, reduce the fertilizer feeding. Stop applying the fertilizer when the Phalaenopsis is dormant or not creating any new growth.
The specially designed fertilizer for orchids is FEED Me! Orchid fertilizer ( already available in dilutions).
Always apply the weak dilutions weekly based on product label instructions during the growing season because many orchid species need little fertilizer. However, some orchid types need more nitrogen fertilizer when they are grown on bark-growing media.

🌱 Best Soil For Moth Orchid

In the wilds, the phalaenopsis grow on the surface or sides of other trees and absorb nutrients and water from the air. Therefore, it is wise to mimic these conditions to maintain them as indoor potted plants. 
Different growing media mimic moth orchids' growing conditions that support good airflow and drainage. These potting mixes contain fir bark, peat moss, perlite, and sphagnum peat moss.

😎 Pruning and Maintenance

Orchids, particularly the phalaenopsis, need pruning off the mature and older growths once a year. So prune off the weak and damaged foliage and brown or mushy roots with the help of sterilized knives.
Also, perform deadhead pruning to promote the new growth for the next growing season and stop the plant from wasting energy on older and faded growths.

🌺 How to get Orchids to Rebloom

To rebloom the orchids:
  1. Trim the old spikes once they start turning brown with a sharp and sterilized knife
  2. Provide the plant with a good amount of light, water, fertilizer, and humidity.
  3. To induce bloom or rebloom in orchids, you need a temperature difference from day to night.
  4. Drop the temperature by ten degrees along with a nutrient boost (orchid-specific fertilizer) to induce flowering 

How to Repot Orchids

Orchids don't need frequent repotting but to refresh the soil and nutrients.
Image Source:Repotting once a year or two is perfect for stopping the excessive growth and adding a fresh potting medium for better draining.

Many orchid species are slow-growing flowering plants and do not need frequent repotting. However, repotting once a year or two is perfect for stopping the excessive growth and adding a fresh potting medium for better draining.
To repot the orchids:

Repotting Your Orchid

  1. Choose a plant pot that is one size larger than the previous one and has holes and slits to provide the roots with good aeration.
  2. Soak the selected pant pot into a bleach solution for at least one hour to kill the microbial contaminations.
  3. Put the orchid potting mix in boiling water and cover it. Once the water cools down at room temperature, drain the water away and fill the planter with a sterilized potting mix.
  4. Pull the orchid away from the pot and examine the plant. Thoroughly wash off the roots and remove the mushy, weak, and brown roots with a sharp scissor. 
  5. Place the plant in potting mix and mist the plant for a week until roots emerge.
Pro Tip Icon
Repot in February or June
Note: The best time for Orchid repotting is February and June because the plant is actively producing new growths and leaves.

Common Orchid Pests and Diseases

Potted orchid in a rattan pot.
Image Source:Most common issues for orchids are due to improper water care causing fungal diseases like root rot.

Overwatering, direct sunlight, over-fertilization, and low humidity make the growing orchids susceptible to many insect pests and fungal rots. Not only this, but the surrounding environment of orchids also leads to stressful conditions for plants. A stressed plant is more prone to pest attack.
Therefore, to prevent the orchids from pests, the optimum growing factors are most important and play a key role in their growth and bloom.

Root Rot

Fungal pathogens are responsible for root rot. For example, Phytophthora and Pythium root rot are the most common diseases of orchids. The sign of their infection is black-colored ring spots on leaves. So, the best way to handle the root rot is prevention.
Treat Root Rot
  1. Keep the surroundings of orchids free from plant debris and litter
  2. Avoid overwatering 
  3. Maintain good airflow
  4. Apply fungicides, but as last resort

Pests

The orchids are insect pest-free plants. However, during the growing season (new growths and young leaves are abundant), the most common pest infestations are mealybugs, scale insects, aphids, fungus gnats, and spider mites.
A cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol is a practical approach to killing the pests at an early infestation. Moreover, horticultural oils, neem oil, and insecticidal soap help manage large infestations.

📚 Moth Orchid Care Tips Cheat Sheet

Good care of orchids includes:
  1. Water your orchids carefully (watering once every five days is ideal to avoid root rot)
  2. Feed them with orchid-specific fertilizer
  3. The windowsill is the best spot for indoor orchids, where they get perfect light—bright indirect light.
  4. Use potting mix made of tree bark, peat moss, and perlite to mimic the growing media of orchids in the wild
  5. Monitor orchids regularly for pest infestations and apply vegetable oil, neem oil, and dish soap spray to repel and kill insects

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Orchids add as great houseplants for their showy flowers and beautiful leaves. Their brightly colored flowers easily fit into interior decor and enhance aesthetics. To get these beautiful orchids, such as phalaenopsis and dendrobium with their specified potting mix, visit: Neverland.

FAQs on Orchids


What are the most popular orchids?
Many orchid species and hybrids exist, but these two genera are the most popular: phalaenopsis or moth orchids and dendrobium hybrids or cane orchids.
Can you get a Moth Orchid to rebloom?
With little effort, you can get a moth orchid to rebloom. Cut off the old and brown bloom spikes up to three inches and continue to provide them with healthy growing conditions.
Do orchids like wet soil?
Orchids do not prefer evenly moist soil because if it is too wet, these tropical plants turn brown and will not bloom.
What do you do with an orchid after the blooms fall off?
You have several options: you can leave it be, you can trim the stem entirely or to the node. We recommend trimming the stem if you're seeing signs of issues like a yellow stem.