Orchid Blog

Read the AboutOrchids Blog for my latest orchid growing experiences and orchid pictures!

Orchid Fact

A popular drink in Turkey called salep is made from underground tubers of a local orchid. Salep is also made into ice cream and pudding.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you do not find the answer to your question below, try leaving a question in our orchids forum. We cannot guarantee an answer, but maybe one of our readers will be able to offer some information for you.

Orchid Care

My orchid grows but doesn't bloom.
Orchids expend a great deal of energy to flower. Conditions must be just right for them to bloom. Check on light levels, water frequency, temperature, fertilizer, and winter dormancy.
How do I know if my orchid is getting enough light to bloom?
Most orchids bloom once a year. If yours does not bloom, first look at the leaves. Dark green leaves can indicate that the plant is receiving insufficient light. Healthy leaves receiving enough light are usually a light green color.
When do I need to repot my orchid?
When the potting media starts to decompose, you should repot it. You can tell it is decomposing by digging out a piece of wet bark and squeezing it between your fingers. If it stays whole, the media is not broken down. If it squishes or breaks up, it's time to repot. Pots that do not drain water well need to be repotted immediately.
Can I use a time-release fertilizer for my orchids?
Yes. Time release fertilizers are great if you are forgetful about fertilizing or do not have the time. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer label. Most last 3-4 months, but some may last 2 seasons. Apply a dose at the beginning of spring, and if necessary repeat in summer.
Do orchids need to be pruned to shape them?
No, except for any dead leaves, flowers, and roots. These should be cut off with a sterile scissors. Use a bleach solution or rubbing alcohol to sterilize scissors.

Identifying Orchids

What kind of orchid do I have?
There are approximately 30,000 species of orchids, and tens of thousands more human-made hybrids. To figure out what kind of orchid you have, take a close look at both the flowers and the leaves. The shape of the flower is often the most helpful information.
What if I can't identify my orchid?
If you cannot identify what kind of orchid you have, and therefore cannot figure out the correct light, water, and temperature levels, start with these basic tips.

Choosing the Right Orchid

What kind of orchid should I buy?
Know what conditions you can provide, don't buy rare orchids unless you know how to take care of them, and always buy from reputable stores or dealers. Never buy a plant taken from the wild or take from the wild yourself.
What should I look for when I buy an orchid?
Leaves and roots should be firm and clean looking. Do not worry if some roots are sticking out of the pot. Flowers that are just starting to open will last longer than ones that are already open.
I am an over-waterer. Are there orchids that I can grow?
Yes. Some orchids, such as Masdevallias, Miltonias, and Odontoglossums, need water every day. Make sure that all orchids, even these kinds that like daily water, drain thoroughly and never sit in water.
If I live in a cold climate, how can I grow orchids?
Orchids grow most everywhere on the planet, even north of the Arctic Circle and atop cold mountains. Masdevallias, Miltoniopsis, and Odontoglossums are some of the kinds that require cool temperatures. Some Paphiopedilums and Cymbidiums also need cool temperatures.
Which orchids have a scent?
Many orchids, including some Cattleyas, Dendrobiums, and Miltonias, have scents. Some may have scents only during part of the day or night. Smell the orchid when you are buying it to determine if it has a scent that you like.

Common Orchid Problems

The flowers fell off my orchid - is the plant dead?
No, it has simply finished blooming. It will now store energy until it can bloom again. Some orchids can bloom more than once a year.
What are signs of disease to watch for?
Deformed leaves or flowers can indicate disease. Black spots on leaves may indicate a problem.
My plant is growing crooked. Is that a problem?
No. Orchids grown in a greenhouse grow straight up because all their light comes from overhead, and they grow towards it. An orchid grown indoors grows toward the nearest light source, whether that is a window or light bulb. This actually reflects how many orchids grow in the wild, where they are often shaded by a tree or a hill, and grow crooked toward the light. You can turn your orchid every few days to keep it growing straighter. When it starts to grow a flower spike, however, you should stop turning it or it may drop its flowers.
My orchid's roots are sticking out of the pot. Is that a problem?
No. Most orchids grow as epiphytes, or air plants. Their roots attach to trees, but they are not parasites. They hang on to the trees for support while they absorb rainwater and gather nutrients. Roots may have moss or debris on them, but they are otherwise exposed to the open air. So as long as the humidity is high, the roots will be perfectly happy sticking out.

Orchid Trivia

Why are orchids grown in bark or moss?
Because they are air plants, orchids need air movement around their roots. Soil is dense, and does not permit enough oxygen to get to roots. Bark and moss allow air movement.
Are there any orchids that grow in potting soil?
Yes. Although most orchids are air plants, some are terrestrials that root in soil. Some terrestrials grow in marshy conditions or on stream banks. Most orchids sold are epiphytes, not terrestrials. Pleiones and Bletillas are examples of orchids that grow in soil.
How do orchids attach to trees? How do they get into the trees in the first place?
Orchid roots anchor to bark or rocks while they are growing. Orchid seeds are miniscule, and blow in the wind like dust. Seeds start growing when they land on trees or rocks in the right conditions.
If orchids grow in wet places, why can't they handle water collecting around the roots or on the leaves?
This may seem like a contradiction, but even orchids that grow in wet, humid rainforests need to dry out to prevent bacteria and mold from causing rot. In the wild, plants usually grow at an angle so that water quickly drains. Growing as air plants on tree trunks and branches, their roots stay above puddles on the ground.