Orchid Care

Caring for your Orchids

While people can often be intimidated by orchid maintenance, in reality, these tropical flowers are very easy to care for. Finding just the right area in your home that provides the best light and temperature is the first step. Of equal importance is appropriate and timely watering – orchids are far more often overwatered than underwatered. As a general rule, they require weekly watering, but only if the growing medium has dried out. For specific details relating to each type, follow the instructions below:

Phalaenopsis Care (Includes Gemstones and Darlings)

PLACEMENT:
Phalaenopsis are strictly indoor plants. For best results, find your plant a bright, well-lit area in your home or office.

LIGHT:
Keep in bright but indirect indoor light.

WATER AND FERTILIZER:
For plants grown in bark, water once per week at most, and only if potting medium is dry. Submerge entire pot in water for 5 minutes and allow to drain OR place 2 to 3 ice cubes on top of potting medium. Phalaenopsis grown in sphagnum moss need water less frequently; every two weeks should be sufficient. Be sure to water moss thoroughly, since moss that is very dry may not immediately absorb water. For both, fertilize with a balanced mix (e.g., Grow More 20-10-20) every other watering at half the normal dose.

TEMPERATURE:
Best range is 65-80°F while blooming.

CONTINUING CARE:
After the last flower expires, cut the spike under the node from which the first flower appeared. A new spike can branch off within weeks. Alternatively, remove the flower spike entirely to allow the plant to recover and form a new spike in 3 to 4 months.

 

Cymbidium Care

PLACEMENT:
Cymbidiums are cool growing orchids that can be enjoyed indoors and outdoors. They often thrive on patios in temperate areas. Otherwise, a brightly-lit living room or foyer provides an ideal location.

LIGHT:
Bright light. In winter, full sun can be tolerated.

WATER AND FERTILIZER:
An active plant in full light will need to be watered weekly.  Plants in low light can be watered every other week.  Be sure to water thoroughly and allow plant to dry between watering. Fertilize 1x month with a growth formula (30-10-10) in the spring and summer) or a flower booster in the fall and winter (6-30-30).

TEMPERATURE:
Best range is 50-70°F while blooming. Higher temperature can cause flowers to drop off prematurely.

CONTINUING CARE:
After the last flower expires, remove the flower spike at the base. In order to re-bloom, plants need cooler temperatures and bright light.

 

Other Orchids

Westerlay also markets other types of orchids we refer to as “Exotics,” which feature fascinating, alluring blooms in a variety of flower shapes and colors. These exotic orchids add interest and color to your home or office for many weeks. They all have fairly similar care requirements.

PLACEMENT:
Exotics require more light than phalaenopsis and are also strictly indoor plants.  The brightest areas of the home are usually best.

LIGHT:
Keep in bright but indirect indoor light.

WATER AND FERTILIZER:
Exotics do not have the same thick, water-retaining roots as phalaenopsis. However, they can be watered with similar frequency—just once per week when, and only if, the potting medium is dry. Follow the same watering technique and fertilizer as phalaenopsis (see above).

TEMPERATURE:
Best range is 65-80°F while blooming, the same as phalaenopsis.

CONTINUING CARE:
Exotics are more challenging to rebloom. Like cymbidiums, the entire flowering spike needs to be removed so the plant can recover. Changing location to a cooler area in the house will help. Remember to keep them in bright light with infrequent watering.

Dendrobium
Dendrobium (den-DROH-bee-em) orchids include hundreds of hybrid species in a wide range of sizes and lush colors, such as white, cream, yellow, orange, pink, green, lavender and purple. Dendrobiums grow on trees and other plants, with up to 10 flowers—which last 8 to 10 weeks and typically develop in late winter or spring—on each reed-like stalk. As Dendrobium orchid blooms unfurl, they become twisted into an upright position around their stems.

Miltonia
The increasingly popular Miltonia (mil-TONE-ee-ya) orchids and their close relatives Miltoniopsis (mil-tone-ee-OP-sis) primarily come from Brazil and the intermediate climate region of South America. Also called pansy orchids for their resemblance to garden pansies, the fragrant flowers, which grow abundantly on slender, arching stems, feature bold, distinctive markings over deep, rich colors ranging from white to yellow to red and pink.

Oncidium
Oncidiums (on-SID-ee-um)—or the dancing lady orchid—are known for their smaller, but striking flower shape, and occur naturally throughout the American tropics from Florida to Argentina. While the blooms of undiluted Oncidiums only grow in yellow with brown markings, there are a wide diversity of hybrid colors available. As an epiphytic plant, their unusual “pseudobulbs” store water and nutrients, making these orchids exceptionally easy to care for.

Odontoglossum
Odontoglossum (o-don-toh-GLOSS-um) orchids have long-lasting sprays of small, distinct, fragrant flowers with jagged edges like tooth marks—hence their name from the Greek words odon (tooth) and glossa (tongue). The colors of Odontoglossum’s 100+ species include white, red, purple, brown, yellow and “blotched” in a variety of shades. They typically bloom once a year and can be kept inside or in a sheltered garden spot.

 

Bromeliad Care

Bromeliads (broh-MEE-lee-ad) are not orchids but rather members of a plant family known as Bromeliaceae, containing over 3000 diverse species that range from pineapples to Spanish Moss (which is neither Spanish nor a moss). Other types resemble aloes, yuccas or even green, leafy grasses. We often market these tropical, flowering plants in arrangements with our orchids, but they are beautiful focal points on their own.

Care Instructions

PLACEMENT:
Bromeliads will thrive in your home or outdoors in temperate climates.

LIGHT:
Provide bright indirect or filtered sunlight.

TEMPERATURE:
Maintain air temperatures around your bromeliad plants of 75-80°F in the daytime and 60-65°F at night.

WATER AND FERTILIZER:
Water your bromeliad plants once each week directly onto the leaves. Don’t allow the leaves to dry out, but allow the potting soil to dry out slightly between watering. If the bromeliad plant is placed inside the house, fertilization is not required.

CONTINUING CARE:
The bloom can last between 2 to 3 months. Bromeliads do not re-bloom and instead will produce a “pup” plant at the base that can grow into a new plant. Repot your bromeliad plants when their roots fill the planter pot.