Orchids are increasingly popular houseplants and you’re likely to find several different types for sale, in addition to the much-loved moth orchid. Many of them are easy to grow in most homes, producing gorgeous displays of exotic blooms.
Find out how to care for orchids.
Always keep the plant label, as different types of orchid need slightly different care. But, broadly speaking, grow in specialist orchid compost, avoid watering too much, and feed with orchid fertiliser from spring until autumn.
Most orchids like bright but indirect light – an east or west-facing windowsill is often perfect. Too much light can scorch the leaves, so don’t stand in direct sunshine. Most indoor orchids come from humid, tropical regions, so like a humid atmosphere. In most centrally heated homes the air is dry, so mist the foliage every two to three days using tepid water (avoid spraying the flowers), or stand the pot on a tray of damp gravel.
More on growing orchids:
Find out about some of the easiest orchids to grow.
Miltonia are also known as ‘pansy orchids’ as their flowers have ‘faces’, just like pansies do. They prefer cooler temperatures from 12-15°C (55-60°F) but are forgiving of temperature fluctuations. Keep them somewhere bright, but not in full sunshine.
Cymbidium orchids prefer cool conditions – a minimum 10°C (50°F). To flower they need a distinct drop in temperature between day and night from mid- to late summer – you achieve this by putting the plants outside from June to September. In the house, they need bright but indirect light. Watch our video guide to caring for cymbidiums.
Unlike most orchids, odontoglossum orchids do well in low light levels – a north-facing windowsill is ideal. They hail from the Andes, so like cool, fresh, airy conditions and a minimum temperature of 10°C (50°F). They like high humidity so place on a tray of damp pebbles.
Dendrobiums likes a temperature of at least 16-18°C (61-65°F) and less humid environment than many other orchids. Reduce watering in autumn, and move plants to a bright windowsill or porch, where they can remain cool and dry until spring. Then, when temperatures start to increase again, increase watering and bring indoors.
Moth orchids, or phalaenopsis, are widely available and easy to grow. They do well in centrally heated homes (they like a minimum temperature of 16°C (61°F), in a spot that has bright, filtered light, such as close to an east-facing window. They like humidity, so do well in kitchens and bathrooms.
Paphiopedilum, or slipper orchids, like humidity and moderate temperatures – at least 13°C (56°F). Types with spotted leaves like it warmer. They grow on the floor of rainforests so are adapted to low light but need high humidity. Move to a cool, bright spot in winter.
Oncidium orchids, or dancing ladies usually flower in summer and may go dormant for a while. They will appreciate a spell outside in summer. They like bright light – close to an east window is ideal and a moderate temperature of around 12-15°C (55-60°F).