Growing orchids and other plants is actually very similar. In order to be healthy, all plants have the same basic care requirements, which are water, sun, food, air and warmth. Orchids are no different in the types of requirements, only in the amounts of each basic need. This is also true for different kinds of orchids – each one needs different amounts of each category.
Giving orchids care begins with providing the right humidity level for the type of orchid you intend to grow. Generally speaking, orchids need between 40% and 70% humidity day after day. While most plants control water evaporation, orchids cannot, and are constantly in a state of losing water. The amount of humidity in the air is the only controlling factor. Know how much humidity your orchid is going to require before purchasing it.
If you are growing orchids, you need to supply continuous atmospheric moisture, whether it be by hosing the garden or inside, by spraying the plants, setting them over trays of water or keeping them in a container such as a glass environment where you can control the humidity levels. Humidity is not a problem in cold weather. You should follow periods of humidity by a time of drying out. This is similar to having morning sun followed by an afternoon shower, and then morning sun once again the next day.
Air is another necessity of orchids. In nature, orchids often grow up trees because they have excellent air circulation. Even though all plants pull carbon dioxide from the air, orchids are extremely efficient about it. Good ventilation is essential to growing healthy orchids indoors. A good source of air circulation is a ceiling fan. Even indoor orchids need fresh clean air inside so open a window whenever possible. If it’s cold outside, arrange it so the air is warmed before it hits the plants. For example, open the window from the top and not the bottom.
Place your orchids where they will get the most sunlight they can without suffering any ill effects, such as sunburn. Orchids need lots of light–around ten hours per day. This light should not be at full intensity at all times so start them out in the sun and then move them to shadier spots or filter the light through curtains until you achieve the desired effect.
Orchids need to be protected from frost and snow. Many orchids grow naturally where temperatures dip well below freezing. In the Andes, for instance, temperatures in the 20s are not terribly uncommon. But you must be very attentive to colder temperatures, and orchids that do experience cooler temperatures must remain dry. Cold and wet are not good conditions for growing orchids. Cooler orchids are those said to need a temperature averaging fifty degrees. Check out temperature charts online or in orchid books for which orchids do best at certain temperatures.
Your orchids need to be fed. You cannot ignore this step of giving orchids care. Some growers still argue about what orchids need to be fed and how much. But, especially if you are a beginner, you will want to do everything possible to have healthy orchids.
Begin by using orchid liquid fertilizer, whether it be synthetic or organic. Most orchids today are planted in osmunda, or dead fern roots, which decomposes. Always check your orchids for yellowish or brownish discolorations which might mean the plants are malnourished. Check out recipes for nutrient fertilizers online.
If you meet these basics of orchid care and culture, you should have no trouble at all being successful at growing orchids. Orchids will respond positively as long as they have the basics of air, light, food, humidity and protection.