Garden Advice

How to Care for Orchids Indoors – 5 Helpful Tips

This blog post is contributed by Sarah Gerrard Jones, an expert on houseplants.

If your orchids have bloomed but lost their flowers, you may be wondering – will my orchid flower again? Of course! You just need to give them a little more time and care.

The very first plants I rescued were orchids. I was in a DIY store and they were putting the Phalaenopsis Orchids that had finished flowering in the bin! It seemed so sad that healthy plants were destined for death just because they’d finished blooming. I asked if I could take some home and that’s how my obsession with rescuing plants began. I went back week after week to save as many as I could and I’m happy to say they have all bloomed again.

Caring for orchids is relatively easy. However, encouraging them to bloom again requires a bit more attention and patience.

Table of Contents:

So, if you:

  • Own an orchid that has bloomed;
  • Want to know how to encourage it to flower again;
  • Are looking for orchid maintenance tips,

Then this article is for you!

Orchids use a lot of energy to create their flowers, so they require some rest after blooming. Moth orchids (Phalaenopsis Orchids) go into a period of dormancy for about 6-9 months after dropping their flowers. You may think they are dead, but they are simply storing up the energy needed to re-bloom. Some orchids bloom again with very little intervention, while others may need some more help to kick-start the process. This can depend on the plant, the conditions of living and how well it’s being taken care of.

So, here are my 5 simple tips on how to look after an orchid after it has flowered:

Trim back the flower spike

To help your plant conserve energy, you can trim the flower spikes. This will also increase the chances of a new flower developing earlier than usual from an offshoot of the cut spike. Here’s how to prune orchids:

  1. Check the flower spike. How much you cut back the spike will depend on the condition it’s in.
  2. If it’s firm and green, trim above the bottom node. Find a node under the lowest flower. Cut approximately 1 inch above that node (see photo below).
  3. If it’s brown or black, that means it’s dead. In this case, you need to cut it back to the base of the plant.

Sometimes the orchid won’t bloom again from the same flower spike, but that’s not to say it wouldn’t do it from a newly formed one.

Watering orchids with rainwater

Orchids can be fussy about what they drink. Tap water can be full of particles that will probably do more harm than good to your plants. Because it can vary greatly depending on where you live, I recommend using rainwater. So, how do you water an orchid? There are various ways to do it but my preferred method is soaking.

  • If you use a cover pot to hold the clear plastic one, simply fill up the cover pot to the top with rainwater. Leave it to soak for 15-20 minutes. This gives the potting bark enough time to absorb a good amount of water.
  • If you don’t use a cover pot, just place the clear one into a larger container. Fill it up with enough water to cover the top level of your pot.

As a rough guide, I would suggest you soak your orchids about once a week during spring and summer. In winter, plants will not need to be watered as often. Still, don’t let the potting medium dry out completely between waterings.

If you are not sure how much you need to water your plant, use the colour of the roots as a guide. Healthy roots should be firm and green. If they look silvery, they need a drink, and if they are brown and mushy, you should cut back on the watering.

Overwatered brown roots are rotten and your orchid may be at risk of dying. If this has happened, let the potting medium dry out completely and see if any green roots remain. If some of them are still fresh, cut away the mushy brown ones and reduce your watering schedule.

Feed the plant with fertiliser

To get orchids to flower, you can fertilise them. Feeding your plant will give it the energy it needs to produce new flowers. You should use a specialist fertiliser every 1-2 weeks during its growing season. Always follow the dilution guide on the bottle. I use a general orchid fertiliser while the plant isn’t flowering and switch to using bloom fertiliser when it is to prolong the flowering period.

Ensure it gets enough light and watch out for sunburn

You may be wondering how much light do orchids need. As a general rule, Phalaenopsis orchids need medium, indirect light, but they will also tolerate lower light conditions. However, they still need enough light to flower. If a healthy orchid doesn’t bloom, it’s usually due to insufficient light.

It’s ok to put your orchid on a north-facing windowsill. You can also place it on an east-facing one so that the plant will only receive sunlight for a short part of the day. It must, however, be kept at least 2 feet away from a south-facing window to avoid being burnt. If your orchid has white patches with a dark ring, it indicates sunburn and should be moved.

Adjust the temperature to encourage your orchid to flower

Temperature plays an important part in the flowering process of an orchid. They enjoy similar heat levels to us, so if we feel comfortable with the temperature in our house, chances are your plant is happy, too.

If your orchid is reluctant to flower, try placing it where night-time temperatures will be slightly lower than normal, about 12-14 C. Exposing your Phalaenopsis Orchid to cooler temperatures for about a month will hopefully encourage it to bloom.

Takeaways and useful tips

  • Orchids like humidity. They enjoy being misted. Alternatively, place the pot on a saucer with gravel and fill it with water. 
  • Make sure to occasionally clean the leaves with a damp cloth to remove dust and allow the maximum amount of light to be absorbed.
  • Many people believe that Phalaenopsis Orchids are toxic to pets. They are, in fact, non-toxic to cats, dogs, and horses.


Did you enjoy this post? Do you have any experience with growing orchids at home? Share your tips in the comments below!

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