How to Help Orchids Flourish

Discover and learn about the intoxicating world of orchids.
Related To:
Pink Orchids

Pink Orchids

Which flower has been used as an aphrodisiac, grows all over the world in all kinds of places and is on the endangered species list? The orchid. These amazing plants can live hundreds of years in the wild or thrive in greenhouses of orchid lovers worldwide.

In nature, orchids pop up in every country in the world, from the North Pole to the South Pole. There are nearly 30,000 different species growing in the wild, and more than 150,000 hybrids have been created by crossing different orchids. In most of the United States, you can grow many warm-growing orchids outside in the summer months, but in southern Florida, along the Gulf Coast, and in coastal southern California, you can grow orchids outside year-round.

Orchids are recognizable by their three outer petals (sepals) and three inner petals, one of which is typically a lip that serves as a landing platform for insects. Orchids grow on trees, in the ground or in the home. They can be small or large, sweet-smelling or unpleasantly scented. Orchids come in single blooms, clusters, and sprays and chains with bizarre shapes and patterns.

Orchids do have something other than shape in common: they prefer lower temperatures at night. Warm-growing orchids such as moth orchids like 65- to 70-degree temperatures at night, while intermediate orchids such as the cattleyas like chillier air: 60-degree evening temps. A cool-growing flower like Dracula prefers 50- to 55-degree temperatures at night.

As a first-time orchid grower, you'll want to keep these tips in mind: First, choose a mature orchid that's already in flower; some orchids can take years to go from seedling to flower. Then, start with hybrids; they're grown specifically for hobby growers and will be easier to deal with than rare varieties.

Before you take an orchid home, research its needs. Many orchids like to dry out between waterings, but other orchids prefer a climate that's consistently wet. Some are easy to grow; others are quite temperamental.

Orchids also vary as to how much light they need. Here's a trick for estimating the amount of natural light you can offer an orchid:  Hold your hand about six inches above a sheet of white paper. If there's a sharp, clearly defined shadow, you have bright light. If the shadow is quite distinct but fuzzy around the edges, you have medium light. If there's only faint shadow or none at all, there isn't sufficient light for flowering.

Plus, supply orchids with plenty of fresh, humid air that's in perpetual motion. If you're growing the orchid indoors, open a window or keep a fan running. Give your orchid the environment it craves, and it will reward you for many years to come.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Easy-to-Grow Orchids

Get tips on growing these lovely flowers.

Garden Gem: Jewelweed

This colorful annual is one cool plant.

Plumerias and More

The plumeria can be grown in areas where it's not hardy if it's brought inside for the winter.

Button Mums

Discover the versatile—and tough—blooms of button mums.

Poppies Serve as Red Badges of Sacrifice

Learn about poppies and their significance to American war veterans.

4 Can't-Miss Strategies to Increase Flower Color

Keep your garden flush with flowers by using these simple techniques.

Growing Stewartia

Enjoy the blooms of this “false camellia” all summer long.

Growing Cut Flowers

Extend the enjoyment of your garden to the indoors.

How to Grow Flowering Quince

These gorgeous flowering shrubs will brighten up any dreary winter yard.

Melampodium: Our Favorite Flowers

Learn where to grow melampodium, a fast-growing annual that loves the sun.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

On TV

House Hunters

8:30am | 7:30c

House Hunters

9:30am | 8:30c

House Hunters

10am | 9c

House Hunters

10:30am | 9:30c

House Hunters

11am | 10c

Best House on the Block

11:30am | 10:30c

Fixer Upper

12pm | 11c

Fixer Upper

1pm | 12c

Fixer Upper

2pm | 1c

Fixer Upper

3pm | 2c

Fixer Upper

4pm | 3c

Fixer Upper

5pm | 4c

Fixer Upper

6pm | 5c

Fixer Upper

7pm | 6c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Fixer Upper

8pm | 7c

House Hunters

9:30pm | 8:30c

House Hunters

10pm | 9c

Fixer Upper

11pm | 10c

House Hunters

12am | 11c

House Hunters

12:30am | 11:30c

House Hunters

1am | 12c

Fixer Upper

2am | 1c

Fixer Upper

3am | 2c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.