Orchids are among the most popular flowers in the world because of their great variety of shapes and colors, capable of adding a touch of elegance to interior spaces. Few people know that orchids can also be grown in pots: below we explain how.
To grow orchids in pots you need to start “thinking like them.” The golden rule for having healthy, flowering orchids is to faithfully reproduce their natural conditions. In nature, orchids are epiphytic plants, growing on other objects such as tree bark or stones.
The orchids we usually prefer to have at home are hybrids of phalaenopsis (so-called moth orchids) or dendrobium.
Optimal conditions for growing orchids
Orchids thrive in pena light, but not in direct late afternoon sunlight. They need plenty of moisture and a flow of air around the roots.
These plants need dry periods, alternating with heavy watering. Orchids grow best in temperatures above 10°C but below 30°C.
The closer you get to these optimal conditions, the more likely your orchid will grow healthy and flower profusely.
Most orchids we buy in stores are packaged in cheap plastic pots, with the roots soaked in moss. Obviously, this condition disregards two of the main rules for healthy growth.
The first is that there is a lack of airflow around the roots. The second is a consequence of the first: the roots will never dry out completely. For this very reason, the plant cannot breathe and will almost certainly rot.
Orchid roots are organs that need to absorb water quickly and breathe. They do not extract nutrients from the soil.
Transplanting orchids successfully
The first thing to do when we bring an orchid home from the store is to enjoy its bloom. Never transplant an orchid with flowers.
Once the bloom is over, cut off the tip of the dead flower with sterile scissors and transplant your orchid.
Orchids should be placed in special pots, using potting soil designed for orchids. Pots for orchids have large drainage holes for water to run through.
Orchid potting soil usually consists of various thick-textured ingredients, such as pine bark, charcoal and even polystyrene foam. To transplant the orchid follow these steps:
Remove the orchid from the plastic bag and remove as much moss as possible, being careful not to damage the plant. Healthy roots should be white and firm, with a small bit of green growth.
Cut off any blackened, rotten or withered roots.
Place the plant in the pot and fill it with the appropriate potting soil. The plant should be attached to the potting soil, but not anchored. In time new roots will grow through the potting soil and cling to the pot.
Place your orchid plant near an east-facing window, with a few hours of light sun in the morning.
To give the plant the moisture it needs and collect excess water, place the plant on a wide, deep, gravel-filled saucer.
Tips for caring for a transplanted orchid
During the summer, water generously once a week. Make sure the roots soak in water and that the saucer fills up.
During the growing season feed the plant once a week with an appropriate powder or liquid fertilizer.
During the winter keep the plant warm and water it only once a month. Spray water occasionally to make sure the plant is hydrated. Do not fertilize.