At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
Typically, orchids grow in tropical climates that offer a high level of humidity. However, if you are willing to put in a little more time and effort than you would with other types of houseplants, you can add their beauty to your home. To grow orchids at home, go to your local nursery and purchase an orchid that appears healthy and in good condition. Once you get it home, place it in a window through which it will get plenty of natural light. Be careful, though, as you don't want the window to make your plant too hot; if the direct sunlight threatens to overheat your plant -- which is possible with direct midday sun -- move it to a nearby surface and allow it to receive indirect sunlight.
Many who've had success with growing orchids suggest placing them in a window that faces any direction except north. If your windows cannot provide enough sunlight, you can use a plant light to get the job done. Aim for no more than 8 hours of artificial light daily.
Since orchids are native to areas that are humid, they are used to moist conditions. You might think this means you should water them every day, but that's not the case. If you do so, you may overwater your orchid and impede its growth. When you grow orchids, it's best to give them just a little water every few days. But don't let the calendar tell you when to water. To grow orchids, you have to be prepared to monitor them.
Monitor your plant by lightly touching the soil to decide when it needs watering. Notice whether it's a bit dry. If so, it's okay to give it a few drops of water. You don't want to let it get bone dry, however. If your plant is already moist, and you give it more water, you will risk causing the roots to rot.
Grow orchids in small containers. Though other plants do need sprawling pots in which to spread and grow, orchids do best with the support of tinier homes. Seemingly cramped quarters give their roots optimal support and help them to thrive. If your orchid is doing well, you generally won't need to repot it. If it is a type that needs to be repotted each year, however, use a potting mix that contains mulch; make sure it is labeled for use with tropical plants.
When you grow orchids, you'll find that they benefit from a small amount of fertilizer with each watering. Your fertilizer should contain 15 percent nitrogen, 10 percent phosphorus, and 10 percent potash. When the plant is dormant, it's best to reduce the amount of nitrogen a bit.
You are more likely to receive good results when you grow orchids at temperatures between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (12.77 and 26.66 degrees Celsius). However, these plants also need you to provide humidity. To do this, you can place a small amount of water in a shallow tray and fill the tray with pebbles; about 1/2 cup (118 milliliters) of water should do. Place your potted orchid on top of the pebbles, but don't allow the pot's bottom to be covered with the water. You may also have success with using a spray mister to keep the plant's flowers and leaves happily moist.