Growing Orchids Indoors & Outside:
Organic Orchid Care Instructions

If you don’t live in a very warm climate, growing orchids indoors instead outdoors is probably a better decision. These exotic flowering plants can make great glasshouse specimens with other varieties that thrive in frost-free naturalized spaces among bark or tree ferns.

When choosing an orchid variety, you’ll need to consider the light and temperature of your planned growing area.

Growing Orchids Indoors: Plant Snapshot

Growing Orchids Indoors
  • Orchid (orchis)
  • Annual or perennial? Perennials
  • Recommended varieties (by color):
    • Pink: cattleya bowringiana
    • Red: cymbidium strath canaid
    • White: cymbidium white
    • White and pink: dendrobium nobile, vanda rothschildiana
  • Recommended USDA Hardiness zones: 09b to 11a
  • Mature Height: 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 cm)
  • Mature Spread: 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 cm)
  • Sun Requirements: partial shade to partial sun
  • Blooming season: Early, mid & late spring and early, mid & late summer
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Propagating Orchids Indoors: Planting the Seed, Transplanting and/or Root Division

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Growing orchids from seed is a very specialized process that few amateur gardeners attempt. Commercial growers use systems of meristem cultures and specialist growing flasks.

But it is possible to propagate orchids by root division. Common orchids such as cymbidium can be divided after flowering by removing the root from its pot and cutting it into two parts. Remove shriveled back-bulbs and repot any firm ones into organic compost. Keep the plants moist in a cool, shady place. New shoots should appear from these potted divisions in two or three months.

If you’ve bought potted orchids that are in flower, don’t attempt to repot until flowering has ended.

Snapshot: Planting Orchids

  • Germination soil temperature: 75 degrees F (24 C)
  • Distance between plants: about 12 inches (30 cm)
  • Planting depth: 2 inches (5 cm)
  • Days to germination: 3 to 10 months
  • Preferred soil pH (see soil pH tester for more information): 6 to 7
  • Root division information (perennials only):
    • Root system type (clumping, spreading, rhizome or tuber): rhizomes
    • Roots division frequency: Every 3 to 4 years
    • In which season should dividing occur? After flowering
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Taking Care of Orchids & Pruning Orchids

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Ventilation is extremely important for orchids; in addition to being protected from cold draughts, they need free-flowing air movement to thrive.

It’s also important to keep plants moist without allowing them to become waterlogged. In summer this can mean watering a small amount each day. Use rainwater if possible.

Most orchids do not need supports. If oversized blooms are growing on long flowering stems wires should be used to discretely support the plants.

Orchids have a rest period after flowering, and some varieties will shed their leaves at this point. Do NOT water them during this rest stage.

Use an ordinary organic houseplant fertilizer to feed plants once every three weeks from spring to fall.

Orchids will need very little pruning. Remove small plantlets by hand that form at leaf nodes. These can be repotted to create new plants. Remove dead or shriveled stems with clean pruning shears, cutting above a leave node.

Snapshot: Orchid Care

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Growing Orchids Indoors: Harvesting/Cutting Time

Orchids are a long-lasting cut flower, with some flower stems lasting up to a month. Choose flowers that are fully open and use sharp pruners to cut a flower stem in the morning.

Place stems in slightly warm water.

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Orchid Disease & Pests

Fungal infections will affect orchid flowers. To avoid this type of infection, ensure that there is good air circulation around plants.

Make sure to just water the soil around the plant and avoid getting leaves and flowers wet.

The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Orchids (see Organic Garden Pest Control for information about how to prevent and address pests and diseases)...

Orchid Pests

  • Aphids
  • Caterpillars
  • Lubber grasshoppers
  • Mites
  • Orchid blossom midges
  • Roaches
  • Snails and slugs
  • Sow bugs and pill bugs
  • Thrips
  • Whiteflies

Orchid Diseases

  • Black Rot
  • Botrytis
  • Bud blast
  • Viruses
  • White phalaenopsis ringspots
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