Orchids are a diverse and widespread family of flowering plants, whose scientific name is Orchidaceae. With over 25,000 species, orchids can be very different from each other, ranging in size from very tiny orchids to big flowers.

Indeed, there are orchids with different colours, shapes and even smells, which can grow in tropical habitats, among others. Some are wild, others like to be indoors - in this article we'll focus on indoor orchids.

A lovely hobby

Growing orchids can be a way to calm the mind, relax from a day's work and an exercise in patience and contemplation - because orchids take a long time to grow, but you'll be delighted whenever a new root starts growing.

That's why enjoying and contemplate all these species leads many people to make a hobby of it. Growing an orchid and watching it will give you a good sense of accomplishment as a plant grower.

And what at first may start as a simple hobby, can quickly evolve until you become an orchid collector, expanding your orchids beyond your indoor space to the garden. And yet, it can start to get a little weird having all those flowers - believe me when I say this becomes addictive.

However, the way you treat them is very specific and you need to be very careful. When you buy an orchid from a flower shop, you need to pay attention, otherwise they might die earlier without you knowing what you are doing wrong.

Here are some ideas for caring for your plants, but note that there are many species and what applies to one species may not apply to another. In this case, these tips applies to phalaenopsis – one of the most common indoor plants.

Six tips for healthy orchids

Caring for an orchid can be as difficult as it is easy - it depends upon your knowledge and luck. Usually, the first mistake is to water it too often. Orchids need little water, but don't let them dry! It needs to be in the perfect quantity.

1- If you have a phalaenopsis, please don't hide the roots! They need sunlight (but not direct), they're fine with indirect sunlight, and they can't be in an opaque pot, otherwise they'll die quicker – the pot has to be transparent for the roots to receive indirect sunlight.

2- In this stage, you may be wondering where to place the flower. The answer is: any place where there might be indirect sunlight. So, if you leave the house in the morning and only go back at evening, choose carefully where you are going to put the plant, as they cannot spend the whole day in the dark.

3- Taking them out of the pot when buying a new one, you will see that there is a space where the roots are compacted into the soil. Maybe you don't quite understand what I'm saying, but if you try to take it out of the pot, you'll find that perhaps in the soil the roots are compact and need to be loosened - if that happens they will start to rot as they really need sunlight and can’t be wet for so long. Also, when changing the pot, don't forget that they are happy to grow on orchid bark substrate.

4- As you may know, overwatering kills, so providing the adequate water level is essential. So how do we know when we are providing an adequate level of water? This is very simple. Although it depends on the type of soil, climate, season of the year, among many other factors, this tip is great - just take a look at the roots and see if they are green, if the answer is yes, please don't give more water. But if they turned white or gray, it's time to water. However, if it's not phalaenopsis, or any other type where the roots can be seen, you can always put your finger in the soil and feel if it's still wet since the last watering. If so, leave, otherwise it's time to water. The key is to let them dry between watering.

5- Before cutting the stem of an orchid, sterilize the scissors with fire and repeat the process before handling another orchid to avoid disease transmission. Also, put cinnamon where you cut it every time you cut a stem, it's like putting a sticking plaster on and it heals wounds.

6- If a fungus appears, don't despair, but don't be inert either. Act quickly and find out from plant experts which “poison” to apply to kill the insect before it attacks the plant.


Paula Martins is a fully qualified journalist, who finds writing a means of self-expression. She studied Journalism and Communication at University of Coimbra and recently Law in the Algarve. Press card: 8252

Paula Martins