Author Options:

Orchid Care Questions Answered

So I have been given this orchid - in bloom... I really don't know how to care for it.... right now, it's been on my kitchen bar for about a week getting fluorescent light. My father grows a bunch of orchids at home, but he just sort of "plants" them somewhere an forgets about them - which has worked very well for him :p Any care recommendations? Is there anything particularly wrong with cutting the flower stem off (if no, where should I cut)? I do have a balcony, it faces North and the plant is in a plastic pot (maybe 1.5 quart size) with wood chip mulch. thanks :)


To answer your question about cutting off the stem, don't do it until the whole stem dies and turns brown, then clip it at the base. My orchids will bloom 3 or 4 times before the stem will completely die. I've been told another stem is supposed to sprout eventually, but I'll be darned if I've been able to make that happen. I have one orchid that's been stem-less for two years now and another that's approaching its first anniversary. :( If anyone wants to help me with that, I'd be super grateful. Oh, and that's funny about your dad, but I read that's very common. It's strange how hardy orchids are in the wild, but bringing them into a house is a completely different story.

NORTHERN EXPOSURE Many orchids can be grown and flowered on a windowsill. It is best to choose the brightest windows in your house that are not shaded by nearby trees and buildings. If you only have clear northern exposure, or even partially obstructed Eastern exposure, you should still be able to grow some orchids. If you have some outdoor space, even a small balcony, your orchids will enjoy a summer vacation outdoors in ‘’bright indirect light’’. Window sill growing requires no special fixtures. A humidity tray on which to place your potted plants is recommended though, and a nearby spray bottle to mist your plants occasionally. Supplemental artificial light, especially in winter, may be needed in northern exposures. Keep your plants as close to the glass as possible. Light intensity falls off rapidly even a foot away for a window. After light, maintaining adequate humidity is probably the biggest problem in windowsill growing, especially in the winter months. Group plants, and spray them often with a water mister to help increase humidity. Be sure to keep moisture-loving orchids well watered at all times. Watering and fertilizer will also need to follow a more natural seasonal schedule with greatest frequency during the brighter warmer summer months and less during winter.

My leaves get burned if I leave them in the sills. Is this because I have only east and west facing windows? I tried rotating them every so often, but I can't remember to do it...or if I already did it earlier that day :)

Are they getting "direct|" sunlight. They do best if the light is bright but diffused (not direct).

Oh yeah, the sun is aimed right in there after 4pm. i figured that was why, but I'm out of ideas. I live on the second floor, so there aren't trees or anything to filter the sun. Is it possible to buy a grow bulb (please correct me if that's not the term for it) and use it in one my table lamps or something? I need light in my living room, i wanted to kill two birds with one stone :)

Most CFL's work, I use a daylight and just a normal philips marathon bulb ( both are 15 watt I think but may be 23 watt ) this gives both red and blue spectrum, (( red for flowers and blue for leaves ) you can get special lights but the costs are much higher and you won't get any better growth, in fact most are worse... And I should do the light shade as an instructable but it's just a stainless steel mixing bowl with two light sockets in it and chain for hanging it ... And if your getting to much light I found placing some fabric in the window which is see threw works very well, I found some in walsmart which is almost like white insect screen, I guess it's used for frilly dresses ? and two layers of it works perfect, and you can look out the windows still and it's not to noticeable from outside...

I normally see orchids being grown commercially on charcoals, in small baskets, hanged under the shades (off from direct sunlight). But that is the case here in the tropics, it's hot and humid year round. I'm not sure if it's applicable in your case.