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Orchid Care Tips For Beginners!

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Orchid Care Tips For Beginners! - Love Orchids

For centuries, orchids have been a beloved staple of the horticulture industry. However they tend to have  a reputation for being temperamental, difficult plants, but most orchids are no harder to grow than your regular houseplant. Many people seem scared to start growing orchids, worried they'll kill one and we're here to help you get over this orchid fear and become a fab orchid-owner. Luckily for you we are experts on Phalaenopsis "moth" orchids, and these are among the easiest to grow and care for if you're a complete beginner. 

Top Care Tips For Becoming a Great Grower:

Chose an Easy Variety:

For those looking for a low-maintenance indoor orchid, Phalaenopsis (moth orchids) are widely available in houseplant shops or even your local supermarket, (or you can order them from us, straight to your door!)They come in various colors and patterning. The attractive feature of this flower is its extended bloom period, lasting anywhere from a few months to even years, and often coming back with an encore bloom a couple months later.

We recommend that rather than purchasing lots of them at once, why not try growing and caring for just a couple moth orchids over the span of a year. This way you can test your gardening skills and see if you like it. Orchid care is all about paying attention and noticing all the little signs and signals that plants give us and knowing what these little signals mean.

Paphiopedilums, or ‘paphs’ as they are popularly known, make an attractive alternative for the orchid enthusiast due to their peculiarities; however, this type may be too demanding for novice growers. Start with a moth orchid, and then expand your collection.

Pick a Good One;

As with all houseplants, you will really be putting yourself at a disadvantage if you pick a poorly plant. If you're purchasing an orchid from a shop, there are some things to lookout for;

The leaves should be leathery to the touch, firm, perky and bright green in colour. The leaves shouldn't be too dark as this would indicate they haven't received enough light though this can be easily remedied over time in your care. Ensure no part of the plant is black or brown as this is much harder to recover from.

Looks for healthy roots - they should be firm and light in colour. Avoid orchids with drying or wrinkling roots. If you're unsure on the health of an orchid, try another. (However, here at Love Orchids, our expert growers will always pick the healthiest orchids possible to be delivered straight to your door!)

Have The Right Potting Mix;

Often, the orchids that you happen upon are epiphytic, meaning they are air plants that grow naturally on rocks and trees in the wild. These plants obtain most of their water and nutrients from the air around them rather than any soil.

Epiphytic orchids should never be potted in traditional houseplant potting mix. Instead they are potted in a specialised mix made from bark, perlite and sphagnum moss. This aids in making sure your orchids have adequate air flow between the roots of the plant, if you need to purchase orchid potting mix, we've got you covered here!

Monitor Your Light Levels;

As a rule of thumb, stay out of direct sunlight. Many orchids can easily be sunburned. Your plant should be placed in an area that gets sunlight mainly during the morning or afternoon. The optimal window direction may vary depending on your home's location but for here in the UK we tend to recommend north or east facing windows.

However, if you have no choice but to put your orchid in a window with direct sun, make sure there's a barrier between the window and the plant. A sheer blind or shade will do the trick to diffuse the light or place on a table slightly further away from the window.

Certain orchids are able to withstand cooler climates more than others due to their temperature tolerances. Take care to ensure no orchid is exposed to temperatures lower than 50°F.

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Try Not to Overwater;

Now's where orchid care can get a little difficult.

Orchids thrive in humid conditions, but can suffer from too much water. They also will struggle if they're left to dry out without proper hydration.

Establishing a regular watering schedule is a great way to begin caring for different species of plants, and setting an alarm on your phone will help you stay on track. Depending on the species of orchid, you may only need to water it once a week, but if your home is particularly dry, check them every three days or so in order to ensure optimum health.

If your orchid is sitting in a ceramic pot (a plastic pot inside a pot with no drainage), make sure you empty the ceramic pot after every water so your orchid isn't left sitting in water. Leaving your orchid to sit in water for prolonged amounts of time spells disaster for you plant, this can lead to root rot and molding bark.

The easiest way to ensure your orchid can thrive with very minimal effort is to up the humidity. Usually these orchids absorb their moisture from the air in the wild so being able to replicate this amazing for your plant a surprisingly easy to achieve. Orchids are tropical plants so it really enjoys a humid environment. Think of somewhere in your house where you can get humidity and light. The bathroom! Orchids tend to do pretty well near bathrooms (but avoid placing your orchid in a often used bathroom as the humidity might be too much), so it's an ideal spot to place one. Otherwise, you can give the kitchen a go or look to increase the humidity surrounding the plant manually. You can do this with a humidity tray - these are super easy to create! 

Let Your Orchid Breath;

Orchids that are kept in water or a damp environment will quickly decay. To avoid this, ensure that the air around your orchids is in constant motion. If you have a slow-moving ceiling fan, that should be enough to create the airflow your orchid needs. If not, placing a small desk fan near your orchid's living space should provide sufficient air circulation.

For less finicky orchids, having them near a window that lets through an occasional breeze should be enough.  

Don't Get Rid Just Because Your Flowers Have Fallen;

Once your orchid finishes blooming, the flowers and stems will die off. Many new orchid owners, at this point, assume their plant has died and end up disposing of it.

Don't do that!

Careful pruning and regular maintenance can help revive your orchid's blooms. Once the flowers have faded, cut back the flower spike to the base. It can be beneficial to research the specific trimming requirements for your orchid variety since each one is unique.

While you coax your orchid to bloom again, continue with your regular care and watering schedule.

Repot to Encourage New Growth.

The most common issue with household orchid plants it adding too much water, so a custom potting mix that includes moss, bark chips and maybe a bit of gravel, this provides a nice medium that allows for sufficient drainage. It is also important to note that the pot should have a drainage holes in the bottom so that any excess water never accumulates around the roots causing root rot

Similar to your other houseplants, orchids will need to be repotted. It is recommended to do this every couple of years when the root systems become dense.

Repotting helps promote the overall health and new growth of your orchid.

Following these simple tips should get your  orchid to last for years and rebloom about twice a year, holding those beautiful orchid blooms for months at a time. Once you have achieved this. it'll start to get easier and easier with every rebloom. 

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