Apartment plants

How to grow orchids

How to grow orchids: the choice

Did you know? The name orchid derives from the Greek "orchis" which means testicle, referring to the shape of the underground tubers of some terrestrial orchids of temperate regions. The scientific data obtained from the pollen of an extinct orchid found in an amber, show that this species has existed for about 86 million years.
A tropical plant par excellence, today it is also widespread in our apartments. If you are wondering how to grow orchids, know that taking care of them is not difficult, especially with regard to the "Phalaenopsis", the most widespread orchid on the market. When you buy an orchid, choose one that does not already have all the flowers that have bloomed and is rich in buds that are yet to be hatched.
The leaves must be stiff and the roots of a beautiful green. Important: never take an orchid that has a stem in the center of the plant, because it will prevent it from growing and you will lose it little by little.

How to grow orchids: where to place them

Orchids need a lot of light. In summer they must be placed in a bright place but protected from the sun's rays, which could burn their leaves. If you put the orchid behind a glass, be careful that it is shielded by a curtain.
The Phalaenopsis orchid, in fine weather can also be placed on the terrace, in a spot sheltered from the drafts and without direct sun. During the winter, however, a window sill is the ideal place because the sun is less intense.
Like all tropical plants, orchids need humidity and the kitchen and bathroom are usually the rooms that have the most, so if they are well lit they could be the ideal place to lay an orchid. The temperature is very important: it must be between 18 ° and 22 °. At home the air is dry, so the leaves will be sprayed once or twice a day; watering must be regular but not too abundant: in spring and summer once a week, during winter once or twice a month. To water it, immerse the pot in a bowl for a few minutes (preferably rainwater).

Orchids in short


Type of plant Plant for flowers and cut
Origin Tropical and temperate zones
Habit Climbing, hanging, bushy
Use From flowers or cut
Height at maturity From 15 cm to 10 m
Growth rate slow
Diseases and pests Cochineal, snails

Orchids: how to make them flourish again

Orchids are beautiful indoor plants as long as they have flowers, the problems begin when they begin to fade one by one. So what to do? First of all it is necessary to remove all the flowers that have disappeared and let the plant rest for a few days. Orchids can flourish, but some tricks are needed, such as cutting the stem where the flowers have withered above the second eye.
If it was already a second bloom, the stem must be cut much shorter. This operation has to be repeated every time after the flowering. During spring and summer fertilize them with special fertilizers for orchids, easily available on the market; the liquid ones in spray are the best: just sprinkle a little on the roots two or three times a month. If you follow these tips carefully, your orchids will bloom again every two or three months and they will do it again for at least 3 or even 5 years.

Orchids: diseases and treatments

If the orchid leaves start to become soft and / or turn yellow, it means that the plant is dehydrated. It may depend on not enough watering, in which case it will be enough to increase it. However, it could also derive from the opposite case, that is, from too much water, which causes the roots to rot and create problems for the whole plant.
Sometimes, the leaves suffer even if the watering is correct: the cause could be an unfit ground because it absorbs too much water, ruining roots and foliage. It must be replaced with a "special orchids" soil. Another common disease in orchids is the mealy bug infestation.
These parasites creep into leaf axils or leaves and make the plant die. Eliminate them by applying directly on the scale insects a coton-fioc soaked in denatured ethyl alcohol, so you will save the orchid and also the plants around it.

Orchids general information

The orchids are striking for their beauty and they amaze for the bizarre shapes and the great variety of colors. Therefore it is difficult to resist the temptation of wanting to have them at home to enjoy their unquestionable exotic charm and embellish any domestic environment.
Orchids belong to the Orchidaceae family, which includes about 800 genera and 20,000-30,000 species, as well as an innumerable series of hybrids.
They are present in almost all areas of the globe, with terricolous species that live in regions with a temperate climate, and especially epiphytic species (they grow anchoring with their roots to branches and trees, or to rocks covered by mosses), but also terricolous, in the band tropical and subtropical. In addition to a very different habitat, orchids have different forms and cultivation needs.
Based on the structure of the plant it is possible to distinguish them in two groups: monopodial and simpodial. The former consist of a single stem with vertical growth and aerial roots. To the second belong the orchids provided with a rhizome with horizontal development from which the pseudobulbs originate.

How hard is it to grow orchids?

Cultivation, even if it is not particularly difficult for some species, is problematic due to the problems connected to the recreation of the environmental conditions typical of places of origin. The orchids of the tropical and subtropical area, characterized by rainy summers and dry winters, need different climatic conditions from ours, a remarkable night-day thermal excursion and a high environmental humidity.
Phalaenopsis, dendrobium, cymbidium and oncidium are among the easiest species to cultivate due to their limited needs and adaptability to environmental and climatic conditions.
The fundamental rules for cultivation are correct lighting, sufficient humidity, correct water supply and adequate fertilization.

Choose the right place

The best place (if you don't have a greenhouse) is sheltered from drafts, but ventilated and with sufficient light. Put it away from direct sunlight and away from heat sources. But the place must also be chosen considering the particular summer and winter temperatures that the plant needs, and the temperatures of the place where one lives.

What temperature for orchids?

The best place (if you don't have a greenhouse) is sheltered from drafts, but ventilated and with sufficient light. Put it away from direct sunlight and away from heat sources. But the place must also be chosen considering the particular summer and winter temperatures that the plant needs, and the temperatures of the place where one lives.

Cold greenhouse




From 14 ° to 20 °

From 12 ° to 15 °


From 10 ° to 12 °

From 8th to 11th

Temperate greenhouse




From 17 ° to 25 °

From 15 ° to 20 °


From 15 ° to 18 °

From 12 ° to 16 °

Hot greenhouse




From 20 ° to 30 °

From 18 ° to 24 °


From 18 ° to 20 °

From 17 ° to 20 °

As is evident, on the basis of the Italian climate the major problems are created for orchids that need the cold greenhouse because in summer it is difficult to have a temperature of 200 degrees during the day and 100 or 120 degrees at night. But it is not very easy even to cultivate those from a hot greenhouse, since in summer the temperatures exceed 300 during the day and 180 -200. at night, and the temperature range is not so marked. Therefore, it is necessary to choose the species or hybrids that are most suited to the climate, which bear very high summer temperatures and very low winter temperatures.

Air humidity

The epiphytic orchids of tropical and subtropical areas require a rather high air humidity rate, and in the apartment it is difficult to achieve an environmental humidity of 50%. If you have many orchids, we recommend using a humidifier, otherwise you can fix it by placing the vase on a saucer with some balls of expanded clay and water. The evaporation of water due to the average temperatures of a dwelling will ensure that the orchid has sufficient moisture. On hot days, to increase the level of humidity, spray water regularly on the plant.

Orchid exhibition

Orchids need a lot of light, but not direct light because, living in tropical forests, they catch the sunlight through the leaves of the trees. The intensity and the amount of daylight change depending on the season, so be careful to choose the best location based on the brightness.
In summer, if you keep it in the apartment, you prefer a position sheltered from the direct rays of the sun, which would burn the leaves. But still choose a well-lit location. Better if the light is shielded by curtains. Do not leave the orchid in the shade because the lack of adequate light would affect flowering.
In winter place it in a bright place, for example near a window or a light source. Especially in the days when the days are gray, make sure that the plant is as bright as possible during the day. On brighter days, it is possible to leave it in the sun, as long as it is sheltered from the currents and changes in temperature.
The lack of light is evident in the plant's tendency to develop longer leaves, due to the attempt to capture light.

Rest period of orchids

The resting phase of the orchids varies according to the original areas. In Europe, the rest usually occurs during the winter period, during which the orchids are kept at lower temperatures and those provided with pseudobulbs are not watered to favor flowering. For species without pseudobulbs, the rest period is reduced or absent.

Orchid cultivation


Medium difficulty
Exposure Sun, half-shade
Use Interior, conservatory, veranda
Temperature It varies depending on the species
Ground drained

Abundant during the growing season
Water needs Average
Humidity rate At least 50%
Composting Especially during the growing season
Multiplication Division, cutting

Vase or raft

Orchids are usually grown in plastic or terracotta containers with specific soil. The container must be suitable for the plant and not too large, indeed choose one as large as the plant since it will be the best for the orchid.
For small orchids, cork or wood rafts are also suitable, similar to the natural supports to which orchids naturally cling. If cultivated in this way, the orchids need a greater number of sprays, and to guarantee the sufficient water supply, the raft can be immersed directly in the water.

Repotting orchids

Perform the repotting on average every two or three years by choosing a vase that is slightly larger than the one used previously. The most suitable season for this operation is spring. If the stem is particularly heavy, provide it with a support.


Get some specific soil for orchids. In general, the soil is made of pine bark, to which bits of polystyrene and cork, charcoal and expanded clay balls are added. For small size epiphytic orchids it is possible to use a wooden or cork raft and sphagnum raft.
Fertilization must be carried out every two weeks during the growing season. Use a liquid fertilizer dissolved in water for watering.


Orchids normally use the water present in the air, so it is necessary to avoid, for example, watering and wetting the leaves. On average, during the growth period, a watering or two a week is sufficient, and after flowering a watering every twenty days, progressively decreasing the amount of water as the autumn-winter period approaches, when in the original regions begins the dry season.
Always check the ground before watering again. Use non-calcareous water and, if possible, rainwater. Very hard water is harmful, so use filters to eliminate calcium.
After watering, remove the water from the saucer if you do not want to see the roots rot, and do not exceed with the quantities. Make sure that the water temperature is almost equal to the ambient temperature, ie around 200 degrees. If the orchid is kept on a raft, frequent spraying or immersing the raft in water is necessary.

Reproduce the orchids

The multiplication is carried out through the division in spring, at the time of repotting. If more pseudobulbs have formed in the plant, it is possible to divide them by hand and repot each of them separately. While in bamboo orchids, such as dendrobiums, the stems can be cut and divided into several parts. The base of each of them is immersed in the rooting hormone, and is planted under glass until the roots and shoots are formed. The multiplication can also take place through the keiki, small plants that develop from the main plant, which can be detached and planted when the roots sprout.

How to grow orchids: Pests and diseases

You will notice the bad condition of the plant due to the appearance of the leaves or the lack of flowering. Attention above all to watering and the correct amount of light.
Orchids can be attacked by scale insects. Try to eliminate them with a cotton swab soaked in alcohol. Other pests that can cause damage to the plant are the mites and the red spider.
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