How to Arrange Grocery Store Orchids Like a Pro (and Keep Them Alive)

Channel your inner florist to craft a gorgeous orchid arrangement at home, and learn how to keep these finicky plants alive with our tried-and-true water, light and maintenance tips.

May 07, 2020

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Chelsea Faulkner

Be Your Own Florist

Yes, you could drop those impulse-purchased orchids into any old pot, or you can give them a pro-level makeover in minutes with our step-by-step tips. To pull off this look, you'll need phalaenopsis orchids (the kind you find in the grocery store), a planter, moss, decorative stems and one or two small, low-light houseplants. This arrangement makes a gorgeous dining table centerpiece or a stunning gift for Mother's Day, birthdays or any other flower-worthy occasion.

Choose the Best Blooms

For an arrangement that lasts, select orchids with plenty of closed buds left on the stem. Young branches with two or more buds will stay pretty for 2 to 4 months, but if all the buds have bloomed out, the plant will soon start to wilt or shed. Grocery stores will push these bloomed-out plants to the front of the pack because they're big and pretty, but don't be fooled! Sort through and inspect each one before you put them in your cart.

Green Leaves = Healthy Plant

It's also important to take a look at the plant's leaves. Green, firm, glossy leaves indicate a happy, healthy orchid (even when all the blooms have shed). If the leaves are soft, droopy or turning yellow or brown, move on.

Pick Your Vessel

A large, low breathable vessel like this pretty terracotta pot is perfect for our arrangement, but you can use any container for this project. Get creative! Upcycled items like tin cans, decorative bowls or baskets are fun, pretty options — plus, they're free.

MORE IDEAS: 9 Clever Ways to Use Dollar Store Items as Planters

Make It Watertight

Protect your planter and prevent water leaks by lining the bottom with aluminum foil. This also makes for easy cleanup later on.

Create Drainage

Build up the bottom of the planter with filler material like plastic shopping bags, pebbles or bubble wrap. This creates a drainage layer between the orchids and the bottom of the container, allowing air to flow freely around the roots and preventing rot. The bags also double as risers so you can raise or lower plants as needed in the arrangement.

Place Your Plants

Leaving the orchids in their original plastic pots, space them evenly around the container on top of the plastic bags. Add or take away bags as needed until the orchids sit at the height and angle you like. For our arrangement, we used three orchids (two single-stem and one double-stem) in a similar pink color palette.

Best Face Forward

Design Tip: Every plant has a "face" — a side that features more blooms or is more aesthetically pleasing. This is likely the side that received more light while growing. Arrange all the orchids so that the "beauty" sides face the front.

Add Accent Plants

Fill out the arrangement with low-light, low-maintenance houseplants like ferns and peperomia for a lush, florist-worthy look. Leave the plants in their original plastic pots and water when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. Pro Tip: Take the houseplants out of the arrangement and water them in the sink, letting them drip dry before returning to the planter.

Decorate

Add in fun, natural elements like this pretty raffia ball.

Replace Stakes

Design Tip: Replace the not-so-pretty grower's stakes (green or tan wood skewers that support the stems) with natural stems like curly willow, pussy willow or whatever sticks and branches you can find in your backyard. To do this, remove the plastic clips or twist ties from the existing stakes and gently pull the stakes from the soil. Insert a branch into the existing hole or make a new one (being careful not to pierce a root), then gently wrap the orchid stem around the branch until it stands up unassisted. Once all orchid stems are supported, add in more branches and stems throughout for a nature-inspired look.

Finishing Touches

Fill in any holes and cover up the mechanics of the arrangement (plastic pots, bags, foil) with lush green moss, then finish it off with a few pieces of pretty lichen or reindeer moss. You can find a variety of moss in the floral section of your local craft store.

Give It a Once-Over

Once all elements are added, step back and look at the arrangement from all sides, adding or taking things away as needed. Design Tip: Look at the arrangement through your phone's camera app for a fresh view.

How Do I Keep It Alive?

If you have notoriously bad luck keeping orchids alive, don't fret. You're likely making one or two easily fixable mistakes. Read on to snag our tried-and-true orchid care tips to keep your arrangement happy and healthy for many months to come.

DON'T: Place Near a Drafty Door or Air Vent

Quick bursts of hot or cold air from a door or nearby air vent will hasten your plant's demise. To avoid this, give your orchid a happy home away from the front door, a drafty window, fans, floor registers and air returns.

DON'T: Water With Ice Cubes

Orchids are tropical plants, so placing a freezing block of ice on their roots is a no-no. Follow this easy tip instead: Wet the soil of each orchid in your arrangement with a shot glass (about 1.5 ounces) of lukewarm water once a week. It's that simple! Move moss and other decorative elements out of the way before watering to ensure the water reaches the orchid's soil. Every few weeks, check underneath the pots and wipe up any standing water.

DON'T: Place in Direct Sunlight

Orchids grow naturally in humid, shady rainforests and aren't accustomed to direct light. To keep your plants happy, place the arrangement in a shady spot that receives weak, indirect sunlight only.

Gift It or Keep It

This beautiful arrangement makes a wonderful Mother's Day, birthday or anytime gift. But we won't blame you if you want to keep it for yourself.

MORE FRESH IDEAS: 15 Fresh Arrangements Based on Mom's Favorite Flower

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