Orchid Tip

Home and office heating and air conditioning can dry the air. Do not place plants near heating or cooling vents.

Orchids Prefer High Humidity

Humidity measures the amount of water vapor circulating in the air. Orchids need high humidity (50%-75%) all the time. Plant leaves have microscopic openings that "breathe in" water vapor and oxygen. Even during winter dormancy, orchids still want moderate humidity around their leaves and roots. As temperatures rise, orchids need increasing humidity to cope with the heat. Direct sun can heat up an area very quickly; the afternoon sun especially can dry out the air. Wind also dries out plant leaves, and even though they enjoy the air movement, this must be balanced with high humidity.

Air Movement Is Important

We may think of damp jungles and forests as places where the air is still, but in nature orchid leaves and roots are exposed to both mild breezes and strong winds. Keep plants near an open window or a fan to provide some gentle air movement. Be careful not to blow all the humidity away. Stagnant air will encourage pests and germs that can kill a plant. Orchids such as Masdevallias and Odontoglossums need constant cool, moist breezes.

Orchids Need Good Air Quality

Some orchids may be sensitive to airborne pollutants, or sensitive to ethylene. Ethylene is an odorless, invisible gas that comes from ripening fruit or some kinds of smoke, including cigarette smoke. Keep plants away from ripening fruit, stoves, and heaters. Regular air movement will help. If you live in a polluted area, you may want to experiment with different kinds of orchids to find the ones that can survive with poor air quality.