Orchids are exquisite. With their thick, waxy petals on graceful, arching stems, orchids have a cachet enjoyed by no other indoor plant. One glimpse at an orchid, and you are instantly elevated. Yet most indoor gardeners approach orchids with fear and trembling. But not all orchids are finicky.
If “easy orchids” seems like an oxymoron to you, I’ve got good news. Although there are some orchids that pose a challenge even to the greenest of thumbs, other orchids are a cinch. Select one of the amiable orchids, and you stand a good chance of enjoying outrageously beautiful blossoms this year as well as in future seasons. Granted, orchids have different care and maintenance needs from typical houseplants, but once you learn the ropes,
you are well on your way to winter thrills.
The first step toward success with these expensive aristocrats is selecting an easy orchid. Here are some that perform without making demands.
Moth orchids are the easiest orchids to host. Sending up wands of moth-shaped flowers in shades from pure white to pink with speckles and colorful veins, moth orchids perform for months. As the flowers slowly unfold on long spikes, they really do look like moths taking flight. If you have limited space, miniature versions are available. Reblooming is easy, if you have the patience to wait out the time between blooming sprees.
Slipper Orchids Paphiopedilum
Like little elf faces on swanlike stems, tropical lady’s slippers bring the woodland into your home. Because they grow on the jungle floor rather than in trees, tropical lady’s slippers are not so different from houseplants, but they do prefer a special growing medium. Wood chips or moss will do the trick because it allows water to flow freely through to the roots. Easy to coax into rebloom in the dead of winter, a tropical lady’s slipper has blossoms that last several weeks.
A heavenly, vanilla scent is just one more reason to love this orchid. Available with tiny red or yellow flowers, the plant produces many-blossom sprays that linger for a long time.
Tropical Lady’s Slipper Orchids
Skip the ice cubes. The latest fad is to water orchids with ice cubes, but experts say that’s not a great idea. After all, when was the last time precipitation in the rain forest came in the form of ice cubes? Instead, give your orchid tepid water once a week, letting the water drain readily through the potting medium.
Most orchids prefer a potting medium that drains well, such as wood chips or moss, rather than standard potting soil. To treat the plants really well, give them fresh potting medium annually, shaking out the old, compacted medium.
Most orchids prefer indirect light from an east- or west-facing window. Bright, direct light tends to scorch the leaves, so keep a vigilant eye on the sun’s movements through the seasons and move the plant away from the window if necessary.
Although orchids have a reputation for preferring warm temperatures, they generally enjoy the same climate we dwell in during the winter. For best results, the temperature should not drop below 65 degrees.
If your home has a dry atmosphere, put your orchids on a pebble tray. Just take a baking sheet with a lip, fill it with an inch of pebbles and add ½ inch of water. Refresh the water when it evaporates.
After an orchid has blossomed, remove the flower spike and continue to give it the same treatment you provided when it was in flower. The three recommended orchids (previously listed) tend to reblossom. Bragging rights can be yours!
Orchids deserve your best shot at design, and many indoor gardeners turn to cachepots for a truly snazzy display. Due to their potting medium, orchids don’t slip in and out of their containers easily, so they are perfect candidates for cachepots.
What is a cachepot? It’s a decorative container without drainage that protects your furniture and hides the plastic pot that your orchid arrived in from the vendor. Simply slip the orchid—plastic pot and all—inside its cachepot and voila! You’ve got a presentation that looks swank without the hassle of repotting.
Depending on your décor, a cachepot can be anything from china to tole. It might be retro-sleek Floraline or chinoiserie Ming style. Although wicker is popular, it will not reliably hold water.
A cachepot is usually just slightly wider and taller than the container it is hiding. Because it has no drainage, monitoring for water accumulation on the bottom is critical for orchids. To further protect furniture from water leakage, tuck a round cork pad beneath the cachepot to prevent mildew stains. Some cachepots come with felt or cork risers affixed to their bottoms.