How To Keep Your Orchids Alive

keeping your gift orchid aliveThe prize for going to so many weddings... orchids! But now what?
Maybe you're finding yourself blissfully surrounded by orchids too? Thanks to better access to these exotic beauties many brides and grooms are choosing orchids as centerpiece and wedding favor material. If you've taken one home this is what you'll likely need to do in order to keep yours alive and flowering.

First, unlike what many believe, orchids can be rather easy to grow and who wouldn't want flowers for up to 6 months of the year? The problem many have is the containers the plant comes in and after care. Some also are not sure what type of orchid they have. If you're wondering the latter because your plant came tagless the best thing to do is search around for similar looking plants. Start with Phalaenopsis, Dendrobiums or Cattleyas as these are the most commonly found and used orchids. In my experience I've had the most success with Dendrobiums which don't seem to react as badly when you mess up on watering a bit.

The next important step to saving your orchid and keeping it alive is to remove it from those glass containers they frequently come in. Orchids need very good drainage and can't live submerged in water. This might require a trip (in the US) to a store like Home Depot or Lowes' garden department to pick up a special orchid pot. These pots are rather shallow and have multiple holes around the bottom so the roots of your orchid can get air. You'll probably also want to buy some orchid mix medium which consists of bark pieces and some orchid plant food which is pretty inexpensive. Once you have all these you'll want to replant your orchid, taking the time to cut off shriveled and dead roots and watering it well. After that the best thing to do is just leave it alone and let it recover.
mam for gavethat orchids starting to bloom
This is a former wedding orchid given to me, it just re-bloomed this April!

Things that have helped me save an orchid or two
- Cinnamon is your friend! Sounds strange but powdered cinnamon sprinkled on any black spots or cut ends of stems or roots help to stop decay and infections which can kill your plants. It may also chase away ants which enjoy taking up residence in your sick plants. This has always worked for me like a charm. If you have cinnamon sticks on hand these can also be broken up and mixed into your orchids pot.

- My plants always seemed to do well in an east facing window (keeping in mind I'm on the east coast in the USA). I also have a little grow lamp over them.

- Give them plenty of air movement such as through an open window. This helps prevent a whole host of problems.

- Don't over water them or allow their roots to sit in water. They'll turn to mush and die.

- Orchids need humidity so if you're home is very dry you may need to place them by a sink, in your bathroom or on a tray of pebbles with water.

- When orchids are out of bloom you can buy some silk flowers and stick them in the pot... that way you'll have flowers year 'round.

One of the best places I've found for orchid growing information is GardenWeb's houseplant and orchid sections. It's far from what it use to be but it's still really good for usable information by real people. Be sure to check out the FAQ's area with tons of insight into proper watering.

For more on using orchids in your wedding check out, The Flower Guide on Orchids by the Wedding Chicks. Want to see how one bride used live orchids in her wedding? Take a look at these amazing pictures at GardenWeb.

Extra Tip: One problem many orchids can have is with ants. To help keep them out of your plants use dish washing liquid or pure liquid castile soap (Dr. Bronner's) in the water dish under the plant. Sick and dried out plants are more at risk for ant infestations.

Blue Bloming Orchids via Gave That Instagram

Image:micpohling. & MAM for

Also read:
- Planting Your Next Hostess Gift: Aloe, Aloe
- Bring Spring Flowers : Sakura Cherry Hosstess Gifts
- Coming Up Roses: Gifts Soaps, Creams & Balms


Unknown said…
Great post. I had an orchid in my bathroom (I work with orchids all day long) and this orchid called Phal. Super Stupid (yes real name) lasted for nine months (yes, nine months). I couldn't believe how long it lasted and it was an orchid I took home from the greenhouse. My two cents are that orchids to great near a water source like next to the kitchen sink or the bathroom...
Gave That said…
Thank you very much Phillip for your added advice. 9 months is amazing and that name! Can't stop snickering...

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