6 Easy Ways To Keep Your Orchids Alive

Orchids aren’t plants for forgetful people. If you just want a plant that you can water once a week and leave alone for long periods of time, then stick to succulents.

Orchids are beautiful when they bloom, and keeping one alive for a long time will make you really proud, but be prepared to pamper them a bit more often than other plants. Here are six tips to help you keep your orchids alive.

1. Make Sure It’s Getting The Right Kind Of Light

Orchids need a lot of bright and indirect light, according to Westphoria. If they are placed in direct sunlight, like the kind you would find around noon or early afternoon, then you’ll risk burning their leaves and causing the flowers to wilt.

Westphoria suggests placing your orchids in an east-facing window that gets morning light. You can also use south- or west-facing windows, but you’ll have to move or protect the orchid from the intense mid-day sunlight.

How can you tell if your orchid is getting enough light? Westphoria says that dark leaves indicate that the plant isn’t getting enough sunlight, while leaves with a red hue are getting too much sunlight.

Blooming pink and yellow orchid
Jenn Fields/Simplemost

2. Water Them Right

The way you water an orchid is a crucial part of orchid care. I found this out the hard way when I left an orchid my boyfriend gave me (from his personal collection) in the care of my father while I moved.

Try to water orchids about once a week with lukewarm or room temperature water.

When watering the orchid, try to pour it under the plant’s leaves. If you get the crown wet (the center part of the plant from which everything is growing) then wipe it dry with a paper towel. If the crown stays wet for too long, then it can lead to crown rot, which will kill the plant. Hey, no one said this orchid business was easy.

Next, try to water the plant on sunny days before noon. Orchids USA says watering earlier in the day will give the plant more time to dry in the sun if any part of the crown does get wet.

Make sure the pot has drainage and your plant is never sitting in water. You might need to water the orchid more often in the summer and less often in the winter. If you can’t tell what the plant needs, Westphoria says, it’s best to give it another day.

3. Keep Them In A Warmer Room

Orchids thrive in environments that are kept from 65 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Orchids USA. Also try to keep them away from strong sources of heat, because the air around things like your radiator or refrigerator will be much drier, which could dry out the leaves of your plant.

If you keep your orchids on a windowsill, be sure they’re not touching the windowpane, the American Orchid Society advises. In winter in cold climates, the pane could freeze an orchid’s leaves.

Four potted orchids in multiple colors

4. Cut Blooms That Have Died

If a bloom on your flower looks like it’s giving out, then Westphoria says you can do one of two things:

  1. You can cut the entire spike down to the leaves, which will produce a new, stronger stem of flowers in about a year.
  2. You can cut below the lowest dead bloom, at the first “node.” That stem will produce more flowers in about 8 to 12 weeks.

5. Feed Your Plants

When they’re not blooming, give your orchids a 20-20-20 fertilizer. The American Orchid Society notes that orchids tend to do better with too little rather than too much fertilizer, so they recommend a “weakly, weekly” approach to fertilizing.

Just Add Ice Orchids suggests using the fertilizer once every two weeks or at least once a month at half strength. This means you’ll have to mix it with an equal amount of water before pouring it under the leaves of your plant.

6. Don’t Pot Orchids In Soil

Orchids grow attached to other plants in the wild, so don’t pot them in soil. Pot them in a loose bark, and repot them whenever the bark chips decay, which is usually between every one to three years, according to Westphoria.

If you need to repot an orchid, it’s best to wait until it’s done flowering.

Woman transplanting orchid

Sure, they’re a lot of work. But their beautiful blooms make them worth it.