Orchids have captivated mankind for thousands of years and we still love them today. Their flowers bloom in a myriad of interesting colors and forms, from simple and elegant to complex and exotic. Their aesthetic beauty makes people happy and creates a calming, stress free environment wherever they are found. What usually begins as a curious fascination with orchids often turns into an outright obsession and many amateur growers have turned into passionate collectors.
There is a common perception that orchids are difficult to grow but most orchids are not quite as intimidating as you might think. Orchids grow in the same conditions as many common houseplants and are usually no more difficult to care for. With a few simple tips you’ll be growing beautiful orchids in your home in no time.
- Orchids prefer bright light but not direct light so keep them near a sunny window or under a grow light. Not getting enough light is the number one reason orchids fail to bloom.
- Overwatering is one of the most common mistakes that lead to orchids failing, but you don’t want to let them get too dry either. In general, orchids can be watered every 4-7 days during warmer weather and every 7-10 days during cool weather. Keep in mind that orchids’ needs vary significantly from one variety to the next, so check with one of our expert staff to ensure your watering schedule is right for your particular orchid.
- Keep to a regular fertilizing schedule with an orchid fertilizer. Fort Collins Nursery carries specially designed orchid fertilizer as well as orchid potting mix and potting media to keep your orchids well-fed and happy.
- Don’t repot orchids while in bloom unless absolutely necessary. An orchid that is repotted while blooming is likely to drop its flowers, sometimes almost immediately.
- Don’t water orchids with ice cubes- Remember, these are tropical plants and cold ice can shock the roots.
Fort Collins Nursery always has a great selection of orchids in stock including the following varieties:
Phalaenopsis, also known as the ‘Moth Orchid’, is the most commonly found orchid in retail stores due to its ease of production, easily recognizable for their arching sprays of blooms. They are also one of the easiest orchids to grow in the home, making them a great starter variety for beginners. A mature Phalaenopsis is loaded with large flowers that typically bloom for 1-3 months each year.
Cattleya orchids are often called the ‘Queen of orchids.’ They are known for large, showy, and sometimes fragrant flowers. They generally bloom once a year and the blooms can last anywhere from one to three weeks. Due to their ease of growth and sheer beauty, cattleyas are the most hybridized of all orchid varieties.
Paphiopedilum, or ‘Lady Slippers’, are one the showiest orchid varieties. Lady Slippers get their name from the flower’s distinct slipper-shaped bloom pouch that is used for insect pollination. Paphiopedilum blooms are long-lasting and plants typically stay in bloom for about 6-8 weeks. Their exotic flowers come in many different sizes, shapes, and stunning color patterns.
Dendrobium is one of the most diverse genera of orchids with over 1,200 species and hybrids. They like as much bright light as you can give them and they prefer to be potted into little pots with their roots crowded into a tight space. In the United States, the Dendrobium is the second most popular orchid variety and they are loved for their colorful, showy flowers. Dendrobium’s long-lasting sprays of flowers remain in bloom for two to four weeks and can bloom several times throughout the year. Dendrobiums benefit from a rest period where they are kept cooler and drier when not in a growth phase.
Oncidium orchids are also known as dancing lady or dancing dolls. They have large sprays of flowers with many beautiful blooms that look like little flowing dresses. Oncidiums can be a little trickier to grow than some of the other orchid varieties due to their susceptibility to root rot. The most common oncidiums, however, grow well under normal indoor conditions and are worth the extra care.
Originally published on February 11th, 2019. Updated on February 1st, 2023.