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How to Grow Orchids and Keep Them Blooming Year after Year

These exotic-looking flowers are so easy to grow!

Country Living

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Orchids may appear delicate, but they’re actually tough little easy-care plants. With glossy, green foliage and intricate flowers in colors ranging from white to deep pink, orchids grow on every continent except Antarctica. They’re not difficult houseplants to grow and need the same kinds of conditions as many other houseplants such as African violets. “There are many types but the most popular and widely available are phalaenopsis orchids, also called moth orchids,” says Kaylyn Hewitt, lead floral designer with The Bouqs Company. “Their intricate, eye-catching flowers can last for months, and it’s a reliable bloomer when you’re consistent with light, water, and feeding.” Although moth orchids may bloom throughout the year, the main season is late winter into spring, which makes them especially welcome during the coldest, darkest days of winter.

Here’s what else you need to know about how to care for orchids in your home.

What kind of light do orchids need?

Your orchid needs the right light conditions in order to bloom, so choosing the right spot in your house is a critical decision. Give your orchid bright, indirect light, preferably in an east- or south-facing window. The light from west-facing windows may be too intense, especially in summer, while north-facing windows don’t get enough light, particularly in northern climates in the winter. “Make sure the plant is not sitting in direct sunlight, which can burn it,” says Hewitt. Also, don’t let it touch the cold glass in winter or the leaves can freeze. If you don’t have brightly lit windows, consider using an LED grow light.

How do I water my orchid plant?

Although orchids are tropical plants, they don’t like to be soaking wet. “Typically, it’s not under-watering that kills an orchid, it’s overwatering,” says Hewitt. Give your orchid a good long drink, then don’t water again until it’s nearly dry. If you’re not sure if it needs watered, poke your finger in the planting medium, which is typically a bark-based type of potting mixture. If it feels wet, wait another day or two and recheck. They typically need watered every 7 to 10 days. Also, make sure to dump out any excess water in the pot or saucer because orchids don’t like wet feet, and don’t get water on the crown, or top, of the plant.

Fertilize your orchid regularly.

Your orchid does best with regular fertilizing, says Hewitt. Use a balanced liquid fertilizer at one-quarter to half-strength once every two weeks during the growing season from mid-spring to early fall. An orchid fertilizer is ideal, but you can use any regular liquid houseplant fertilizer, too, says Hewitt. But don’t overdo it; orchids do better with too little fertilizer, rather than too much.

Should I cut off the stalk from the orchid when the flowers are done?

After your plant is done flowering, it’s fine to cut back the stalk down to the base where the leaves emerge. And if the stem is heavy when laden with blooms, use a metal or wooden stick with small plant clips to provide support.

You don’t have to repot orchids that often.

Orchids often come in a plastic pot with perforations, tucked inside a larger decorative pot. You can leave them in the pot for years because they actually like being snug. But if you want to encourage your plant to grow larger, repot in a container about 1 to 2-inches larger in diameter and be sure to use orchid soil, says Hewitt. But be aware that your plant may not bloom for a year as it readjusts to its new home.

Are orchids toxic to cats and dogs?

Fortunately, orchids are non-toxic to pets, according to the ASPCA. However, any plant can cause GI upset and vomiting if eaten in large quantities, so keep orchids out of your pet’s reach if you know you have a nibbler on your hands!

Arricca Elin SanSone has written about health and lifestyle topics for Prevention, Country Living, Woman's Day, and more. She’s passionate about gardening, baking, reading, and spending time with the people and dogs she loves.

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This post originally appeared on Country Living and was published October 29, 2021. This article is republished here with permission.

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