Today, orchids are among the most well-known and popular houseplants, and many species are within everyone’s reach. This has not diminished their fascination – on the contrary: just like 400 years ago, the colorful plant casts a spell over its owners. The plants impress with their diverse flower markings, unusual color combinations, bright colors and diverse flower shapes. Nevertheless, many a plant owner has difficulties with this fascinating plant genus. But if you follow a few care instructions, the exotic beauties will bloom for a very long time and can also be easily propagated.

The ideal location

Orchids from the temperate and cool ranges do well from May to September when cared for outdoors where temperatures can vary more during the day and night. If there is no space available in the garden, the plants should be kept cooler for two months in winter and watered significantly less.

  • Cool cultivated orchids need a resting phase at 12 to 16 degrees C during the day
  • Plants cultivated in cool to temperate conditions, on the other hand, need 14 to 16 degrees C
  • orchids cultivated in temperate to warm conditions do not need a pronounced resting phase. These are only placed a little cooler in winter and watered less.
  • Depending on the species, orchids make different demands on the light conditions
  • in midsummer, any orchid species does well in the shade
  • the species and hybrids of the genera Vanda and Cattleya are not too sensitive to direct sunlight
  • Species such as Cymbidium do not tolerate too much light all year round
  • the popular Phalaenopsis needs a lot of shade

What temperature an orchid needs

Orchids come from different climate regions. Some like it cool, others moderate or even very warm. All species like it when it’s a bit cooler at night than during the day, and some like to go outside in the summer.

  • The origin of thermophilic orchids – such as the species Vanda, Ascocentrum, Aeridis and Phalaenopsis – is the tropics. Therefore, these plants need temperatures of 20 to 25 degrees C all year round, at least 16 degrees C overnight. They can also cope with higher temperatures for a short time and in summer, but then in turn they need higher humidity.
  • Orchids that are cultivated in moderate or temperate conditions need at least 20 degrees C during the day in summer, but only 18 degrees C in winter. Orchids from the adjacent forests, eg Cattleya and some Dendrobium sections, are cultivated in temperate to warm conditions. On the other hand, orchids from high-altitude climates, such as Miltonia and Odontoglossum, like temperate to cool temperatures.
  • Cool-cultivated orchids are at home in temperate and cool climate regions. In winter you are best at 18 degrees C during the day, in summer at 20 degrees C, but you can also tolerate temperatures of 8 to 10 degrees C for a short time. If the temperature exceeds the threshold of 28 degrees C, you should definitely increase the humidity. The cooler conspecifics include, for example, Coelogyne and some Dendrobium species, but also Rossioglossum.

Since orchids of the same genus can also differ in their temperature requirements, you should seek advice when purchasing which temperature your new orchid will thrive best at. The night setback is particularly important for orchids from temperate zones. Because for these plants, the temperature difference is an important stimulus for flowering. The night reduction is different depending on the orchid:

  • Cool cultivated orchids should be kept as cold as possible at night. The temperature difference should be at least 6 degrees C.
  • Orchids that are to be cultivated at a moderate temperature should be at least 10 degrees C at night in summer and a maximum of 16 degrees C in winter, but not below 10 to 12 degrees C. The ideal difference is 6 degrees C.
  • Warmth-loving orchids need a night drop of 4 degrees C, the temperature should be 16 to 21 degrees C.

High humidity is essential for survival

Humidity indicates the water vapor content of the air. Orchids love a relatively high level of humidity, especially since in nature they are used to absorbing water directly from the air. There is a humidity of 60 to 80%. So if you want to devote yourself to the care of these plants successfully, you should meet their humidity requirements.

  • In our apartments, orchids thrive best at 50 to 60% humidity
  • If necessary, this value can be increased using simple means (e.g. by hanging water tanks on radiators, evaporators, etc.)
  • at higher temperatures, the water vapor content of the air should be increased for species-appropriate care
  • The humidity can be measured with a hygrometer
  • the type of cultivation has an influence on the humidity
  • it is hardly necessary to raise the humidity by spraying
  • this is only necessary for young plants as well as for freshly potted plants

What to consider when watering

Many orchids die because the owner often means too well by watering the plant. But the accumulated water collects in the flower pot and causes the roots of the orchids to rot. To prevent this, you should make sure that the water drains off and that there is no waterlogging in the substrate.

  • In general, orchids get by with little water
  • the plant should not be too wet or even stand directly in the water
  • instead of watering, the roots should be immersed in water once a week
  • Orchids should be watered once in winter and twice in summer
  • Water with plain rainwater and not tap water
  • wetting the leaves with a spray bottle is good for the plant

Proper use of fertilizer

In its native environment, the orchid usually grows on trees. There she sits on the branches of large jungle trees. She wraps her roots around these branches and uses the tree as a solid base. This circumstance has a very simple reason: in order to be able to get hold of a few rays of light in the narrow thicket, it has to be high up in the branches of the jungle trees. If it were growing on the ground, its chances of surviving would be very low, especially since the huge trees would cover the entire surface of the ground with their dense foliage. Contrary to all assumptions, the orchid does not obtain its nutrients from the tree. Rather, the plants get their nutrients through the air and water. Compared to other plants, the orchid is not firmly rooted in the ground, but hangs more or less on the trees. The roots are usually wrapped around the branches and not covered.

  • use special orchid fertilizer when fertilizing the plants
  • this is tailored to the low nutrient requirements of rainforest plants
  • the plant should be fertilized every three to four weeks during the growing season
  • exceptionally, half the concentration can also be used on flowering plant fertilizer

Repot orchids properly

Like other potted plants, orchids need to be repotted. If you follow a few rules, you have nothing to fear. With these plants in particular, it is important that the soil or substrate is replaced before it rots.

  • You should repot the orchid at most every two to three years
  • Ensure that the substrate is always optically in perfect condition
  • If the plant begins to rot before the end of 2 years, you should change the substrate immediately
  • white deposits should also be taken as a reason for repotting
  • do not use potting soil
  • use special orchid soil instead, which you can purchase at any hardware store
  • for most species, spring is the best time to repot.
  • however, you should not repot the orchid during the winter months from October to January
  • So that you can easily pull the root system out of the pot, you should water the plant a day or two before repotting
  • You should refrain from watering immediately after repotting
  • only give a little water for the first few days
  • then wait a good month before fertilizing
  • a transparent pot guarantees enough light
  • place the orchid on a simple saucer and do without a planter

Orchids can propagate successfully

The propagation of the orchid is not too difficult. In principle, this is possible by means of so-called kindling and by division. Kindeln stand for small offshoots, which usually form on the lower part of the style.

  • wait until the shoot has at least two leaves and roots
  • a hasty separation of the drive endangers its further development
  • you can cut off the shoot with a sterile razor blade
  • then the young orchid is to be planted in orchid substrate
  • do not use an overly coarse-grained substrate
  • by putting a transparent and perforated bag over the orchid, they can promote growth
  • place the plant in a bright place. Occasionally you should remove the bag to prevent moisture build-up and mold growth.
  • only use highly diluted fertilizer for the young plants

If the plant is big enough and has more than two shoots as seen from the main shoot, you can also propagate by division. However, the offshoot should be large enough. Take a sharp knife and separate the offshoot between the bud base (bulbs) and plant it in a new pot with orchid substrate. You can take care of the mother plant.

Cutting made easy

When it comes to cutting, orchids are extremely sensitive. In the case of high-maintenance species, pruning should only be the last resort if the orchid is not doing well. After drying out, the flowers of the plant fall off on their own. In order to cut the orchid, you do not have to lend a hand yourself. If the plant is cared for properly, it is not necessary to cut it back and the trunk is still green even after the withered flowers have fallen and does not need to be cut off. From time to time the orchid forms new shoots even on apparently stunted trunks. So give the orchid some time before doing a radical treatment. If the trunk has turned brown, the orchid can hardly be saved. It is then always appropriate to cut back the plant.

  • in this case, cut the stalk down to the deepest brown point
  • the stalk must be cut back 1 to 2 cm above the eye of the plant
  • for cutting use ordinary scissors, pruning shears or a sharp knife
  • disinfect the blades with alcohol or fire before you start cutting

diseases and pests

Like other plants, orchids can be attacked by diseases and pests. The reasons for this are usually too high humidity, spraying of the leaves or heavy watering during rest periods.


  • You can recognize an aphid infestation by the green or black coloring of the insects on the orchid
  • try to carefully remove the pests with a jet of water
  • quarantine the plant and check it for a few days

spider mites

  • the pests cannot be seen with the naked eye
  • look out for small webs on the underside of the leaves
  • with their mixture of substances they can damage the cell membrane of the plant
  • to get rid of them, you should first wipe the leaves thoroughly and carefully with water
  • add to the mites with increased humidity


  • are very dangerous and can hardly be eliminated
  • Symptoms are small spots, which are arranged in the shape of arrows, stripes or rings
  • to prevent the virus from spreading, you should immediately quarantine the infected plant

Today, thanks to modern breeding methods, the flower lover has a large number of different orchids available, which can also thrive on the windowsill without any problems. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to maintenance. But don’t worry – if you implement the above tips correctly, you will be able to enjoy your orchids for a long time.

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