Tender orchids are among the most popular houseplants to grow, but to keep them flourishing and flowering it’s important that some common mistakes are avoided.
Moth orchids are arguably the most popular and commonly grown orchids, found everywhere from garden centres to supermarkets. They enjoy a constant temperature of around 18°C, so are best grown indoors all year round.
Other orchids, like dendrobiums, cymbidiums and oncidiums need a minimum evening temperature of 10°C, so can be moved outside in summer to a bright spot out of direct sunlight.
Check out this video guide with Alan Titchmarsh for full moth orchid care advice.
Keep your orchids in fine fettle by avoiding these common mistakes.
Using the wrong pots
If you’re growing moth orchids (Phalaenopsis) you need to grow them in clear containers to allow the green roots to photosynthesise. Dendrobiums and cymbidiums don’t have photosynthetic roots, so can be grown in opaque pots. Vandas don’t need any pot at all, and can be grown in empty vases or suspended from wires.
Re-pot orchids in spring when the roots have filled the pot, this is usually carried out each year. Don’t let them remain in the same compost for over two years. Don’t overpot orchids as the compost won’t dry out fast enough, leading to root rot. Choose a pot that is just bigger and always use orchid compost.
Orchids roots are very susceptible to root rot, so it’s important that they’re never sitting in water. Water orchids by dunking the whole container in water, then draining, or from above and again allow to drain. Tepid water is ideal, tepid rainwater even better.
The wrong light
Most orchids, including phalaenopsis, dendrobiums and cymbidiums need bright, indirect sunlight, as direct sunlight can scorch the leaves. They enjoy high humidity, so it’s worth buying a spray bottle to give them a good mist.
Orchids are grown for their flowers, so it’s essential that they’re deadheaded correctly to encourage more flowers. Moth orchids flower multiple times on one stem, so cut off faded flowers just above the next flower bud. On other orchids you can cut the old flower stem right to the base.
Avoid terracotta pots
When potting and repotting orchids, it’s best to steer clear of terracotta pots – the orchid’s roots will fasten themselves to the surface, making it difficult to repot in future.