Five Common Orchid Growing Mistakes

Considering the incredible diversity of the orchid family, it’s surprising how the same few mistakes crop up over and over. Try to avoid these five common problems:

  • Too much water — Orchid roots and potting material should dry out between regular waterings. Kept too wet, they’ll rot. Most orchids sold today are Phals, or Moth Orchids, which need water 2 or 3 times per week. Masdevallias and Lady Slippers may require daily watering, while Cattleyas and Laelias only want water once a week. During winter dormancy, many varieties with pseudobulbs need less water.
  • Not enough water — Many orchids die from drying out. Whether caused by forgetful owners or heat waves, inadequate water leaves these rainforest plants struggling. Always give the plant enough water to thoroughly soak the potting material and run out the bottom of the pot. People who use ice cubes are often guilty of underwatering, since each ice cube amounts to only a few spoonfuls of water.
  • Letting the pot sit in water — With rare exceptions, like the Stream Orchid, orchids should not sit in water for more than a few hours. Water blocks air flow, which is essential for orchid roots. Make sure all excess water drains from the pot after each soaking. If you use a tray with pebbles and water for humidity, always keep the pot above the water level.
  • Not enough light — Orchids can live for a long time, even if conditions aren’t right. They can survive in low light, but won’t bloom or have vigorous growth. Orchids want enough light to keep their leaves medium or light green; dark green leaves indicate insufficient light. Many thrive best with morning sun. In the low light and short days of winter, many types need supplemental light.
  • Dry air — Low humidity wilts flowers and invites pests. Raise humidity levels by keeping the pot on a tray of pebbles and water, grouping plants together, using a spray mister, or running a cool-mist humidifier.

Phalaenopsis speciesGreen Dendrobium flowerLady Slippers


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5 Comments on “Five Common Orchid Growing Mistakes”

  1. Linda Schroeder Says:

    This is helpful. In these days of austerity it pays to take care of my orchid instead of buying anew one every year.

  2. Lauren Spilker Says:

    I am writing to let you be aware of what a really good encounter our daughter experienced viewing the blog. She came to find numerous pieces, including this helpful list. We look forward to new posts.

  3. dsz101 Says:

    Hey, never thought to look at the color of the leaves. I always thought dark green was good!
    Now maybe I know why my ladyslipper never blooms. Thanks for the tips!!!

  4. Reinaldo Says:

    very helpful growing tips

  5. Leon Bua Says:

    Orchids are outstanding plants but not the easiest to grow.