Orchids enchant plant admirers with a good reason. With their enchanting flowers and ravishing colors they are ornament and pride of their owners. The care of the orchids is especially for beginners not that easy. A specific soil substrate and small amounts of water are important for the development of the flowers. We describe them here for you: Properly maintain orchids from A-Z.

The diversity of orchids can be explained easily. With up to 30,000 species and around 1000 genera, the orchid family brings out a very special variety. Due to their magnificent flowers that differ from species to species, it is regarded as the Queen of flowers quite rightly. Plant lovers need to set up here on some other form of care. Because the Orchid has no classical roots either it is growing in soft potting soil. The flowering ability is highly influenced by the care.

Plant profile

  • plant family: Orchids (Orchidaceae)
  • genus: vascular plants
  • type: Spermatophytes, Angiosperms
  • trivial name: Queen of the night, Orchidaceae
  • origin: Asia, South America, many parts of the world except deserts
  • Monocotyledonous plants, Angiosperms
  • growth height: 20cm up to 100cm depending on type
  • blooming time from May to October depending on the type and care
  • bunchy blossoms with different flower shapes, depending on the type
  • extra-large colour spectrum from pale white to violet and multicolours
  • dark green flowers with aerial roots
  • vegetative propagation by seed capsules
Orchidaceae paphiopedilum
Orchidaceae paphiopedilum

If you have internalized the care instructions for orchids once, you will notice the differences to other plants in terms of soil and watering quickly. Because each type has its very special properties, it is important that you watch your orchids and recognize their needs. Our care guide here amplifies on the general circumstances that commercial orchids apply to most.

Care instructions

Substrate

A very lightweight substrate that allows many spaces is ideal. Typically it is about rather rough pieces of bark, coconut fibres and moss. The roots outstanding from the pot need lots of air, space and light. For this reason, a special basket with different types of wood and bark is suitable for the care. The lowest layer can consist of a drainage such as expanded clay. This ensures that water can run off at any time. The soil must not be particularly nutritious. Give the Orchid:

  • a light, permeable Orchid-substrate of moss, bark and coconut
  • low in nutrients
  • don’t use potting soil!
  • water ideally with rain water

Location

In General, the original Habitat should be imitated. That means light, but not direct sunlight and relatively high humidity. Orchids can be placed also in outdoor areas such as the terrace. Here, the location in any case should be selected sheltered from the wind. They love the shade of a tree or large shrub nevertheless it should be however not too dark. As well, a flower trellis is suitable for shading. Should they be spoiled by the rain, it must be ensured, that the water can run off. The East or West direction on the window sill is a well suited site. Here, they get plenty of light, but are not exposed to the intense midday sun. The most important facts in a nutshell:

Queen of the night
Orchidaceae phalaenopsis
  • bright location with lots of light
  • ideal East-West orientation
  • spray the leaves regularly at South windows
  • ensure wind-protected location outdoors

Sowing

The propagation by seeds is very difficult. Usually only the professional farms manage to achieve this. The difficulty of sowing is at the size of the seeds. These are fine like dust and therefore not easy to handle. They form if pollen falls on the scar within an orchid flower. Then it takes a few weeks, sometimes even months until small seed pods have formed. Once they mature, they fall to the ground, where they burst open. One single seed capsule can contain up to one million tiny seeds, which show up as a fine dust. Therefore we show you the reproduction by splitting in more detail.

Planting

So the Orchid plant is separated:

Take the orchid out of the pot and loosen the roots from each other. In doing so the individual leaf clusters are pulled apart. Work with caution and try not to break the roots or to tear them down, but rather only separate them. Should nevertheless breakage occur, cut them off with scissor. Also weak air roots without juice are removed. They have lost their colour and look obviously muddy.

Prepare the new pot

For the new pot, you can use special soil for orchids from trade or manufacture a substrate by yourself. This should be a harmonious combination of bark, some expanded clay. Also slightly dry beech foliage is suitable as a component, because the leaves in the course of time give their nutrients to the roots and strengthen the Orchid in its growth. Also coconut fibre is appropriate here, because it doesn’t absorb moisture and ensures a good air circulation in the pot.

Orchid
Orchidaceae phalaenopsis
  • mix your own orchids soil
  • coconut fibres, expanded clay, and especially bark are suitable
  • the smaller the plant and its roots, the smaller the bark pieces should be
  • provide good air circulation in the pot
  • materials such as garden soil should be avoided as it can cause waterlogging

The repotting

After the division, the plants are put in to lukewarm water for five to ten minutes. During this time, prepare the new pot. The roots are laid on the bottom layer and should fill out the capacity, but not be crushed in any case. Then, the substrate is added in batches. Important:

orchid in a pot
Orchidaceae phalaenopsis
  • the roots must have much space and air in the new pot
  • anyways don’t let large cavities emerge
  • furnish the pot with a level in the interior, so that water can drain away and the roots stay dry

Planting time

For the development of new roots and new leaves the Orchid needs light. The spring months from March are ideal here. At the same time, it is the preparatory phase of the blooming period, so still the bud formation is not disrupted. In the winter months, the repotting or division is unfavourable, as lighting conditions are not sufficient.
On the other hand, it must be said that also those types of orchids, which form their leaves in the autumn, can be repotted at this time.

Watering

The watering of the orchid can get a challenge for the water-spoiled nature friend. Because if someone waters here too much, the beautiful orchids will be ruined soon. Usually the Queens of the night need water only once a week or only once every ten days. The room in which they grow is crucial. But also the individual varieties have a different need for water. At the end, you will develop a green thumb by studying your plants.

violet orchid
Orchidaceae phalaenopsis

Experience has shown that it’s ideal to bathe the orchids once a week. The plants are placed in lukewarm water for 10-20 minutes. Especially for orchids, rain water is particularly good! If you have the opportunity, take this soft water that contains many nutrients also. Watering with rain water imitates the natural habitat the closest, benefiting mainly the flower development.

  • rain water for orchids is optimal
  • if not available, use stale lukewarm water
  • dip the plants once a week
  • when very low humidity, spray several times a week

In addition it may be necessary, to sprinkle the plants that are placed months at the window during the summer. If warm temperatures evolve there, they need this fresh shower. Applies here too: never spray the plants with cold water. Room temperature is the minimum to not scare them off.

Fertilizing

Typically, orchids need very little or no fertiliser. It is important that you use special Orchid fertiliser. These flowers have a nutrient need in a very special composition that is found in this form only in the Orchid fertiliser. However, if you give the plant with a balanced substrate the ideal basis, it will develop many of the beautiful blooms over time. If the resting phase of the orchid starts, don’t fertilise during this time.

Orchidaceae phalaenopsis
Orchidaceae phalaenopsis

Cutting

Orchids can be cut after flowering. Also it is ideal to clean out dried or even rotten parts of the plant. It are usually the flower stalks and leaves, as well as a few roots. Clean cutting the orchids is more important as with hardly any other plant. It is cut with a clean knife or scissor. This caution is necessary that no fungi or bacteria penetrate into the plant. Depending on the sensitivity of the plants, you can disinfect cutting tools before using them.

Hibernation

Overwintering is part of the resting phase of the orchids. The plants should be placed now not too close to the window. Depending on the type individual specimens may now even particularly like the slightly cooler temperatures. Important in the winter months: don’t or very rarely fertilize once in the month.

Reproduction

Within the reproduction by the vegetative propagation, so the division, an identical clone of the mother plant is developed. These are called also hybrids in the botanical language. However, new, different plants are formed on the seed propagation.

Orchids form daughter plants, called layer. The proliferation of these daughter plants is far easier than the sowing and germination of the seeds. Thereby the small daughter plants appear in some species of orchids at the flower stems. Other varieties in turn develop the layer at the flowered up pseudo bulbs. The first step to propagate by division can be done via the stimulation of the formation of the layers. For this cut the flower stems back just a little.

Many of the species of orchids grow in the width, which makes the propagation easier. If there are at least eight shoots with thickening (the so-called pseudo bulbs), the plant can be divided and repotted. This separation helps the orchids, it keeps them young and they develop a new flowering ability again. The new plant pot with greater space offers more energy and nutrients for new flowers. The small plants are put then in the prepared pot. In any case, the drainage of water must be ensured. Ideal are Orchid pots that have a built-in level in the pot, which ensures that water can drain.

Pests

Aphids

From time to time Orchids are infested by Aphids. Household remedies like a soft soap sud consisting of curd soap or the mixture of 90 millilitres of spiritus to 140 millilitres of water contaminate the small insects quite fast. The mixture is added in to a water sprayer to sprinkle the green leaf parts. Don’t sprinkle the flowers in any case.

Scale insects

If small oval-shaped scale insects with brown shields have settled on the plants, the pests can be fought with tea tree oil. Also give a few drops in the water sprayer, spray and repeat if necessary.

Diseases

Orchids are quite rarely infested by diseases. Rarely, fungi or drops of resin, however mostly arising as a result of incorrect maintenance, can occur. In such a case, proceed as follows:

Orchidaceae vanda
Orchidaceae vanda
  • immediately isolate infested orchids, to protect other plants
  • cut off infested parts of the plant with a knife or scissor
  • resin drops usually occur as a result of excessive sun exposure
  • change the location and ensure good air circulation

Varieties and species

Oncidium: beautiful flower shape, lightly padded grows with elevation at the bottom of the lip, usually grows in yellow or brown.

Brassa Orchids: known as spider Orchid for its unusual flower shape. Beautiful specimens in mixed colours such as yellow-brown, purple or gentle white, in dichromatism with striking point pattern.

The Burrageare “Nelly Isler” is a species created by breeders, here the characteristics of the Oncidium Orchid, Miltonia -, Cochlioda – and Odontoglossum Orchid incorporate. Strikingly beautiful flower in bright shades of red, the lower petals are dyed lighter in colour.