Orchids are a stunning addition to any home or office. They exude elegance, and are seen as the symbol of love and beauty. You can find these beautiful plants at events and weddings as well as in the home, and they are always enjoyed by all.

There are many different types of orchids available to grow, with over 30,000 hybrids to choose from. They grow on every continent except Antarctica, so it’s best to choose an orchid species that will grow best in the environment of where you plan to keep it. If you’re really interested in growing orchids, it’s best to get as much information on the types available and how to care for them.

This general guide will give you some basic information to know how to look after your orchid, regardless of the species. So whether you’ve just received an orchid as a gift or have decided you want to start growing your own orchid at home or at work, this will help you get started.

The correct amount of water

Many people think that orchids need a lot of water all of the time. However, this isn’t necessarily true. Yes, orchids will need water to be able to thrive, but excessive water is going to leave your plant susceptible to root rot. Water your orchid once, and then check it the next day. If after putting your index finger an inch into the soil it still feels moist, do not water it again. Your orchids will be able to survive better with too little water rather than too much. So unless your orchid is in a hanging basket or placed somewhere where it will easily and quickly dry out, you needn’t have to worry about overloading it with water.

Place your orchid in the right location

In addition to not watering your plant all the time, it’s best to have the orchid placed in a space that will not negatively affect it. Placing your orchid in direct sunlight for hours on end is not a good idea, and having it near cold drafts and heating vents will not give your orchid the best chance of survival. Very dry air, direct heat and excess chills will give your plant a hard time.

Choose a temperate area in the shade away from surfaces that get very hot or very cold for the best results.

Provide food to your plant

Like many plants, orchids will thrive more when given correct fertiliser. As a basic rule, you can provide fertilizer to your orchid roughly once a month. Looks for fertilisers that have good amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and trace elements of iron. It’s important not to overfeed your orchid, so follow the instructions of your fertiliser of choice, as this will help your orchid to thrive.

Understand the needs of your type of orchid

Orchids are either terrestrial (grows in soil) or epiphyte (tree or branch growing) orchids. A big mistake many orchid owners do is try to grow their orchids in the wrong way. Orchids are commonly killed by being planted in soil when they are tree or branch growing types. By knowing what type of orchid you have, you’ll be able to understand its needs and not mistakenly kill it by placing it in the wrong conditions.

Provide the right growing medium

The growing medium will depend on what type of orchid you have. The easiest way to provide this is to buy ready mixed medium that is suitable for your orchid type. You should have a basic knowledge of the type of orchid you have and what it’s needs are so that you are better able to choose the right medium. Common growing mediums include fir bark, sphagnum moss, perlite, coconut husks or even a combination of these.

Repot when needed

Like all plants, as they grow and become larger with more complicated root systems, the plants will often need to be repotted. Many orchids planted in bark will need to be repotted every 18 to 24 months. Be sure to choose a pot that will be suitable for the growth of the root system of your plant. Keep containers small, however, as your plant will want some room to grow but not too much as it will spend all of it’s efforts trying to increase its root system. If this happens, you will see little to no growth of the plant itself. Always choose a pot with a drainage hole and understand that clay or ceramic pots will mean your plant will need more water as opposed to a plastic pot.

Prune and maintain

You will be required to prune and maintain your plant when the blooms begin to fade. Trim off any dead leaves, tissue and any old flower stems, and anything that is rotting. Use sterilised tools, especially if you’re trimming a few plants, so that you do not spread any potential diseases or fungi. Be sure not to prune the orchid like you would a bush. Do not cut through part of an orchid leaf, as the rest of the leaf will likely die.

Give your orchid the right environment

Orchids really thrive in humidity, so if you live in humid climates your plant will be fine as it is. However, if you live in a climate that isn’t very humid at all or only during certain times of the year, you can create a humid environment around the plant instead. Stand the pot in a saucer filled with gravel. Fill this slightly with water, but ensure the pot isn’t sitting in the water (as this will give it too much moisture). Mist the plant daily to provide additional moisture.