In this second article dedicated to orchids we will see how to keep these wonders of nature in our homes in perfect condition

Orchids: cultivation and care

  1. The natural habitat of orchids
  2. How to buy orchids
  3. Environmental factors to consider
  4. How to transplant an orchid

Orchids grow in all possible environments except in extreme desert and perpetual snows, however, they are most abundant in the tropics. The cloud forest and the humid tropical forests are the most favorable ecosystems highlightedor here the epiphytic and saprophytic varieties. The mountainous areas, whose climate presents every year a dry season, also houses thiss species, but in smaller numbers and prioritizing the lithophytic and terrestrial species.

Tropical cloud forest

How to buy orchids As we have seen in previous articles, orchids are classified according to the substrate in which they develop, and of the four groups in which they fit, epiphytic orchids have two advantages to be cultivated over the others: they are resistant to drought and have the ability to adapt to different climates. Epiphytic orchids have a period of growth, followed by another of flowering and finally the phase of rest or dormancy. Generally the first two occur in the rainy season and the third in the drought or cold seasons. Normally the growth and flowering phase occur simultaneously, but there are species in which flowering occurs before the growth period and others in which it occurs later.

When acquiring our orchid we must take into account the following points:

  1. The first and most important thing is to look at a species of orchid compatible with the climate of our area.
  2. We will go to a nursery of our trust.
  3. It is best to buy it in early spring.
  4. The plant has to have a good state of development; buy a plant with the stem at the beginning of its development we should only leave it for the hands with more experience.
  5. The root system must be sufficiently developed and this is checked by observing that the roots are above the substrate and light green.
  6. That the plant is free of any type of pest or disease.
  7. Once you arrive home we will provide you with an environment as close as you had in the nursery.

Phalaenopsis in a magnificent state of development Root system in perfect condition

Environmental factors to take into account Since the most normal thing is that we decide on an epiphytic orchid which have the roots outside the substrate, we must take into account the following aspects:

  • Container. When acquiring our orchid it will come from the nursery with a pot, but we must know if this pot, which did its function in the nursery, is the appropriate container to have it at home. Normally the pots are made of plastic or mud and each one has its pros and cons:

Type of pot




*Increased porosity, which translates into better aeration of the root system.

*Due to its greater weight they give more stability to the whole.

*They are thermally stable.

*They are fragile and can break easily.

*They are expensive.

* The material with which they are made may contain salts harmful to the plant so we must wash them thoroughly before installing the plant in them.

*The roots adhere to the mud, making subsequent transplants complicated.

*In case of having to increase the drainage they are complicated to drill.


*They are cheap, durable and easy to clean.

*They are easy to drill.

*Roots do not adhere.

*They are not porous.

*They are not thermally stable, heating and cooling.

*Due to its low weight, the set is unstable.

In general, the ideal container should be able to hold the plant for two or three years and most species prefer small, deep containers. The transparent plastic ones are perfect since the root can receive light, as it happens in nature.

macetero transparente
macetero rejilla
macetero con agujeros

  • Substrate. The plants that we can acquire in the market are of a certain age and have grown in a certain substrate so when acquiring them we must ask what type of substrate is to take it into account in future substrate changes. Changing a plant from one substrate to another of different physical and chemical conditions can lead to great stress for the plant if it does not adapt to the new substrate.

A recommended substrate is two parts of pine bark, one of porous stone and one of charcoal.

  • Light. Orchids are classified into three types according to their lighting needs:
    • Species that need little light: the required intensity, referring to a photoperiod of 12 hours duration, is from 11,000 to 16,000 lux (direct sunlight emits between 60,000 and 100,000 lux)
    • Species of average need: from 16,000 to 32,000 lux.
    • Species of high light requirement: from 32,000 to 48,000 lux.

We must provide our plants with a bright light, but indirectly. We should not expose our plants to direct sunlight, especially in the flowering period, not even through a glass. Some species do tolerate direct sunlight, but only during autumn and winter. To know if we are providing our plant with the right amount of light we will look at the color of its leaves:

    • If they are bright light green we are providing the right amount; this is the ideal state for flowering.
    • If the color is dark green it is receiving a lot of light and the plant increases the synthesis of pigments to protect itself from radiation. If we do not correct the situation, brown spots may appear on the leaves.
    • If they turn yellowish green you are getting little light. In this situation the root system is healthy but the shoots are scarce, small and will not bloom.

We can also make use of indoor lamps: I advise you the LED with a full spectrum of light. We can control the light we are bringing to our plant by using a lux meter. We can have them illuminated from 12 to 14 hours.

If we have to move a plant from an area with little light to another with more luminosity we will do it gradually since a plant raised in an environment with low light has the cuticle of the thinnest leaf and fewer protective pigments.


  • Orientation. All are good except the north orientation. The east orientation is ideal in hot weather because it receives the first rays of sun avoiding the central hours. The west and south orientation are also good, but here we have to be careful with the sun strokes.
  • Irrigation. Epiphytic orchids grow on trees and other plants with which they naturally cohabit and obtain the moisture they need for their survival from the air and rainwater that runs off the surface of the branches of their hosts. This means that the roots of epiphytic orchids are never submerged in water in their natural habitat so they should not be in the pot in which they havefallow deer. For all this, the way of watering orchids is a little different from that of the rest of the plants and the frequency of these waterings will be a function of:
    • Of the relative humidity of the environment where the orchid is grown; the lower the ambient humidity, the greater the frequency of irrigation.
    • The size of the pot; the smaller our pot the more often we must water.
    • The size of the plant; larger plants require a higher frequency of watering.
    • The type of substrate in which the plant grows; normally the substrates for growing orchids are usually very draining and the more draining the greater the frequency of irrigation.
    • The type of orchid; there are species that require more water than others.
    • Ambient temperature; the higher the temperature, the higher the frequency of irrigation.
    • Phenological status of the plant; the period that demands the most water is that of vegetative growth, followed by that of flowering; in the period of dormancy we will stop the irrigations and we will only be attentive to avoid the excessive desiccation of the root.
    • Ventilation; the greater the renewal of air, the greater the frequency of irrigation.

Orchids can be watered by a light sprinkler above by a sprayer or by immersing the pot 10 minutes in a container of water. What we have to keep in mind is that the water must drain in a short time so that the root is not in contact with the water too much. We will know if we are watering well when the roots havea light green color; if they turn brown we are watering them excessively and if they become whitish it is that it lacks water. It is advisable to irrigate with osmotic water (the most similar to rain) of pH 7, since this way we avoidgluttony and sodium and recreatethe environmental conditions of the tropical forests; if we have the possibility of collecting rainwater and storing it is ideal. ; if we do not have these possibilities we will use filtered water or bottled spring water with low calcium content. If we have to use tap water we will let it rest in the sun so that the chlorine evaporates. The best time to water is first thing in the morning in hot periods and mid-morning in cold weather. We will not apply sprinkling water when the sun gives the plant since we can cause burns on the leaves due to the magnifying glass effect of the drops. In flowering season we will avoid wetting the flowers to avoid fungal attacks.

  • Ventilation. It is necessary an adequate renewal of the ambient air to avoid fungal attacks, always avoiding excessive and cold currents.
  • Temperature. Orchids are species that can thrive in cold, temperate and warm environments, but most develop in tropical ecosystems, although some endure extreme climates such as frost, high temperatures and precipitation. The temperature inside the houses is suitable for growing the most common types of orchids; in general, if the temperature is comfortable for humans, it will be comfortable for orchids. If we have them outside we must put them under shelter if the temperature drops below 10ºC in winter or if in summer the relative humidity drops a lot. For information, the ideal temperature ranges are:

Type of climate

ºC day

night ºC










  • Relative humidity. The optimal relative humidity for our orchids is 60-80% but in homes the normal is 30-40% and even less; to correct this it is enough to fill a tray of stones, pour water and place our plants on top so that they take advantage of the humidity that causes the evaporation of water from the tray. We will always check that the tray has water. We can also make light and frequent sprays with water or install a humidifier that provides water in the form of fine mist on the plants.
  • Fertilization. In their natural environment, orchids are nourished by the organic remains that have accumulated over many years where they grow or that nature gradually provides, therefore, they are accustomed to receiving nutrients in small quantities, but continuously. During the vegetative growing season we will apply a fertilizer solution richer in nitrogen, moving to a flowering one at the moment in which the first sketches of the flower buds appear. Once the cycle is over and in the repo seasonor we will not provide nutrients. It is also advisable to provide amino acids from time to time.
Fertilizante para orquídeas Fertihose crecimiento vegetativo
Fertilizante Fertihose crecimiento vegetativo
Fertilizante para orquídeas Fertihouse floración
Fertilizante Fertihouse floración
Fertilizante para orquídeas Fertihouse organium
Fertilizante Fertihouse organium

Fertihouse has a complete line of fertilizer solutions to adapt to any plant and at any time; we will apply FERTIHOUSE VEGETATIVE GROWTH to a dose of 0.5-1 ml / liter of water in the vegetative growth phase passing to FERTIHOUSE FLOWERING, at the same dose at the time when the flower buds appear. Once a month we will provide 1 ml / liter of FERTIHOUSE ORGANIUM water in order to biostimulate the plant.

How to transplant an orchid Our orchids must renew the substrate depending on its growth rate , but in general it is done every two or three years at most, increasing in each transplant the size of the pot and for this we will proceed as follows:

  1. We will extract the plant with care that the roots have not adhered to the pot.
  2. We will stir with our fingers the root system to detach the adhered substrate.
  3. We will take the opportunity to remove dead or damaged roots.
  4. We will not eliminate the superficial roots that come out of the pot because they use them to capture air and water.
  5. Sterilize the new pot by immersing it in water and bleach.
  6. We will fill the bottom of the new pot with two or three fingers of substrate.
  7. We locate the plant and fill the gaps with the new substrate pressing gently.
  8. We should not water immediately but when the first new roots appear what happens 15-20 days afterthe transplant.

The best time for transplantation is in early spring or autumn.

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