Famous for their exotic flowers and an ability to light up a room, orchids come in a vast range of shapes and colors, some also having scented blooms.
While it’s true that many orchids can be divas, demanding plenty of attention and delivering nothing but disappointment, there are some varieties that thrive without too much fuss.
In this article, we will show you six of the easiest orchids to care for, even if you’re a beginner, including all the orchid care tips you’ll need.
6. SPIDER ORCHID
Description: Like colorful spiders crawling along arching stems, the unusual blooms of the spider orchid feature long thin yellow or green petals, with brown or maroon stripes or spots, attached to a rounded central lip.
The spidery flowers also have a delightfully spicy scent and appear in late spring and summer. The swellings (pseudobulbs) at the base of the plant will each produce two or three long, strap shaped, green leaves.
Watering: Allow the top of the compost to dry out between waterings in spring and summer.
Partly submerge the pot in a tray of rainwater or distilled water for half an hour and then leave to dry out. In the winter, the plant needs a rest and should be kept drier watering just enough to keep the pseaudobulbs from shrinking.
Feeding: Apply a specialist orchid fertilizer with every other watering from mid spring, when new growth emerges, through to late summer.
Planting and Care: Plant the spider orchid in a 4 -8 inch (10 – 20cm) clear pot in specialist orchid compost (or a 6:1:1 mix of composted bark, black perlite and charcoal.
Do not cover the aerial roots which should be left exposed to the light. Set in a bright position out of the direct summer sun, away from draughts, but in good ventilation.
Cut the flower spike down just above the first node (bump on the stem) after blooming. The orchid likes to be cramped, so only repot when growth starts to suffer.
5. CYMBIDIUM ORCHID
Description: This free-flowing orchid will brighten up your home from late autumn to spring, when few other plants are at their best. The stems of large blooms emerge from between strap-shaped green leaves, creating an explosion of color.
The named hybrids are easier than the species, and there are two types to choose from: large “standards” that can grow up to 1.2m (4ft), and the smaller, more popular, “miniatures”, which are ideal for a windowsill.
Watering: in spring and summer, allow the top of the compost to dry out between watering, and water from above with rainwater or distilled water, making sure that any excess can drain away. Reduce watering to once every 2 weeks in winter. Place on a tray of damp pebbles or mist every few days.
Feeding: Apply a half-strength general liquid fertilizer with every third watering in spring, then switch to a specialist orchid fertilizer throughout summer.
Planting and Care: Plant in a 6-8 inch (15-20cm) opaque pot in specialist orchid compost (or a 6:1 mix of composted bark, perlite, and charcoal). This ground-dwelling orchid does not have aerial roots, and does not need a clear pot.
Stand in filtered sunlight all year, out of direct sun. Ideally, set it on a part shaded patio outdoors in summer and early autumn (before the frosts), when plants need a distinct difference between day and night temperatures to form flower buds.
In late autumn keep in a cool room, ideally below 59 degrees F (15 degrees C ) then bring into a slightly warmer room to flower. Repot every year or two in spring.
4. PANSY ORCHID
Description: Often labelled as Miltonia (hybrids of Miltoniopsis), this compact orchid produces large, fragrant blooms with distinctive pansy-like markings on the face, hence its common name. The flowers can appear in spring or autumn, depending on the hybrid
Watering: In the summer, apply rainwater or distilled water every day or two from above, giving the plant good soaking, and then leaving it to drain. In winter, reduce watering to once every 2-3 weeks. Set on a tray of damp pebbles and mist every few days.
Feeding: Apply a specialist orchid fertilizer every 2 weeks, but flus the plant with plenty of rainwater or distilled water once a month to prevent a build-up of salts.
Planting and Care: Plant in a 6-8in (15-20 cm) clear pot in specialist orchid compost (or a 6:1:1 mix of composted, bark, perlite, and charcoal). The pansy orchid will be happy in light shade in summer, move closer to the window in winter. Avoid direct sun and drafts, and repot annually in spring.
3. BUTTERFLY ORCHID
Description: The stems of this dainty orchid hold dozens of small flowers that look like butterflies or dancing ladies, creating a spectacular effect, usually in autumn. The hybrids are relatively easy, and can be mounted on bark or slate.
Watering: Apply rainwater or distilled water when the top of the compost is slightly dry. In winter, water just once a month. Set on a tray of damp pebbles, and most every day or two.
Feeding: Apply specialist orchid fertilizer, diluted to a quarter strength, with every second or third watering.
Planting and Care: Grow on bark, or in a 12.5-15cm (5-6in) opaque pot in specialist orchid compost. It likes to be cramped, so repot only when the pot becomes too small for the new growth.
2. SLIPPER ORCHID
Description: This orchid has great allure, and features large showy flowers in a wide range of colors, with a distinctive slipper-like pouch that give rise to its common name. The blooms generally appear for many weeks from winter to early summer, although some hybrids flower at other times too.
The long green or mottled leaves form a fan shape, and provide interest while the plant is not in flower. Named hybrids are easier than the original species to look after.
Watering: Using rainwater or distilled water, keep the compost moist from spring to autumn, applying water once or twice a week. Reduce watering in winter but do not let the compost dry out completely. Set on a tray of damp pebbles to raise humidity levels, but do not mist, as this may lead to rotting.
Feeding: Apply specialist orchid fertilizer every 2-3 weeks from spring to autumn, in winter apply it at half strength at the same frequency.
Planting and Care: Grow the slipper orchid in a 15-20cm (5-8in) opaque pot in specialist orchid compost (or a 4:1 mix of finely composted bark and perlite). This ground-dwelling orchid does not need a clear pot, as it produces no aerial roots.
Grow in light shade in summer, out of direct sun, and in full light in winter. The plain green-leaved like orchids like cool conditions; the more widely available mottle-leaved types need warmth, with a minimum of 17 degrees C (64 degrees F) at night.
Repot annually after flowering in a slightly larger container, making sure new growth is not buried.
1. MOTH ORCHID
Description: One of the most widely available and easiest orchids to grow, the moth orchid (Phalaenopsis) produces long arching stems topped with large round blooms in a huge range of colors, some with delicate patterning.
The flowers can appear at any time of the year. There are also miniature hybrids for small spaces and all types are happy in high daytime winter temperatures and will grow well in a centrally heated home.
Watering: Keep the compost moist at all times and apply water every 5-7 days in the morning (ideally use rainwater or distilled water in hard water areas). Reduce watering slightly in winter but do not let the compost dry out completely.
Set on a tray of damp pebbles; mist plants occasionally in the morning, which allows excess water to dry before the colder nights.
Feeding: Apply a specialist orchid fertilizer with each watering, but flush through the plant with plain water and no fertilizer once a month to remove excess salts. Reduce feeding to once a month in winter.
Planting and Care: Plant in a 10-15cm (4-6in) clear pot in specialist orchid compost (or a 6:1:1 mix of composted bark, perlite and charcoal). Do not bury the aerial roots, which need to be exposed.
Set in light shade in summer; bring closer to a bright window in winter. Avoid draughts and major temperature fluctuations; these orchids prefer warmth year-round.
After flowering, cut the stem just above the lowest node (bump or stem) to encourage a second flush. Repot every 2 years in a slightly larger container.
I hope you’ve found this orchid care for beginners guide interesting and helpful. Most of all, I hope that it’s encouraged you to now consider orchids as part of your indoor garden.
If you follow the orchid care tips set out in this article, then you too can enjoy the beauty of this elegant, flowering plant in your home or office.