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Discover the Secrets to Successfully Growing Orchids at Home!

“Orchids are parasites. They are also carnivorous, insectivorous and possess mystic – usually evil – powers. Additionally, they are extremely expensive and need to be grown in very hot and humid conditions which are costly to provide. In cultivation orchids are short lived plants. These are myths.” (Orchids for Everyone, Salamander, 1980 page 11)


Orchids are one of the most diverse, adaptable, and popular flowering plants in the world today. With 70% growing in their native habitat, “the Tropics”, and a similar percentage grown in artificial locations in your own backyard and/or indoors.


Information regarding orchid cultivation in your local environment is varied and, often outdated and inaccurate. Most, commonly available orchids, can be grown successfully, by novice and beginner growers.

Adequate light, even temperature, good air movement, regular watering and fertilising, a quality compost, appropriate locations and regular checks. Time and timing are two of the most important requirements outside your accepted cultural practices.

Where, when, why, quantity and how often. The questions of a good gardener. Plants produce their finest results following the climatic conditions of their natural habitat.

How do I decide? Observe what performs best in your local area, join a garden club, seek advice from a specialist grower, only read articles designed specifically for your local area/location.

The most popular questions are, My orchid will not flower – WHY? and WHAT do I need to do to stop killing them?

Orchids are like people - a healthy person in good physical condition, well maintained and cultivated, performs with superior productivity.


 Maintain Plants  

Plants which are re-potted regularly (generally every few years) with quality potting media, free of disease and infection, free of insect, pest or weed infestation and routinely maintained, using the best cultural practices, perform with the greatest efficiency.


Reproducing the natural habitat of a non-indigenous plant can be challenging, given the limitations of our property and our neighbouring properties in a domestic environment. Careful research involving optimum light levels, temperature, air quality and movement, to replicate a plants natural habitat is a good beginning.


Different orchid genera require variations in the amount of light which aids their flowering. Cymbidium orchids require 30-35% light, Sarcochilus prefer slightly more, Cattleyas, Zygopetalums and Paphiopedilums slightly less with Phalaenopsis prefer even less. But the general consensus is light levels are a critical feature of flowering orchids. Experimentation in your environment is the answer.


Regular watering is favourable for good orchid culture. Healthy plants grow better and flower more regularly. Always water until it runs out the bottom of the pot and avoid overwatering. Moist open composts work better than water soaked.


Cymbidiums require a temperature drop of around 10-15 degrees each night which is simulated by spraying the foliage with water after dusk. Many orchids prefer warmer or cooler environments to grow and promote flowering.



Lower Nitrogen and higher Phosphorous levels reduce the emphasis placed on growth in orchids and replicates conditions which encourage flowering or fruiting in many plants. If in doubt buy a standard fertiliser for your orchids designated for one for growth and one for  flowering. To define the timing for these fertilisers consult a recognised orchid grower. But the rule of thumb is many orchids begin their flower spike initiation after the previous flowering and this is the time to reduce the Nitrogen and increase the Phospouros.


And if you would like some personal advice about your orchids or aroids please come and visit the Aroid and Orchid Competitions and display area in the Goyder Pavilion during the 2024 Royal Adelaide Show.


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