As more species of orchids have become available for the home gardener, these plants have increased in popularity. The fantastic colors and forms of orchids make them fascinating additions to a houseplant collection, and by following a few rules pertaining to watering, they will reward their owner with beautiful blooms for years to come. When choosing an orchid for the home, it is always a good idea to read up on the care requirements of the particular hybrid or species.
The history of most of the orchid types kept in the home harks back to the tropical regions of the world, usually in rainforests. Orchids have evolved with the forests, so to speak, and the moisture needs of the plants must be met if the orchids are to thrive and flower regularly. Rainforests generally have two seasons, the wet and the dry. While the dry season may correspond somewhat to the northern winter, at no time does the temperature drop anywhere near freezing. During the dry season, orchids rest, just as plants do during the winter. During the wet season, the orchids will experience frequent, but usually brief rain showers.
To simulate this environment, watering must be done correctly. Although the orchid is a mostly tropical plant from the rain forest does not mean that it likes to sit in a saturated substrate. Under natural conditions, the relatively small amount of debris in which the orchid grows on a tree limb will shed water fast, and dry out between rains. To properly water your orchid during your ‘wet season’ water the orchid no more than once or twice a week, making sure that the growing medium is almost completely dry before adding more water. The roots of the orchid are designed to take up water quickly, but are not meant to be kept moist continually. Watering in this manner will imitate the growing conditions in the rainforest.
Coming from such a humid region means that orchids like a humid environment generally, regardless of the level of moisture in their pot. It is perfectly appropriate to mist the orchid every day, although the leaves should not be sprayed directly. A humid envelope around the orchid can also be created by placing the pot onto a saucer or dish filled with pebbles. Keeping some water in the dish will raise the humidity in the immediate vicinity of the orchid. However, take care that the pot itself is not in the water.
It is easy to provide a dry season resting period for the orchid, too. As the year progresses towards early autumn, you can begin to cut back a bit on watering. Flowering is usually done by this time as the orchid is entering its vegetative stage. The onset of winter is the signal to cut back water even further, the intervals between watering becoming longer. Some water should be given, and when new growth begins to show in late winter, watering should be increased.
Administering fertilizer along with the water about every two weeks during the growing season will help your orchid maintain condition and ensure that blooms will be produced. The fertilizer should be fairly dilute, once again to mimic natural conditions, and a fertilizer designed especially for orchids can be used.