Orchid Care – The 7 Biggest Orchid Care Mistakes

7 Biggest Orchid Care BlundersMany people love the fragrant beauty of orchids, but are afraid to try their own hand at orchid care. Fortunately, much of the hesitation people feel about growing these beautiful flowers is unnecessary.

Truth be told, once you learn a bit about what makes these plants unique, you can avoid the seven biggest mistakes that beginners generally make:

MISTAKE #1: Overwatering – All orchids need to be watered, but generally not as often as other types of houseplants. Orchids often have pseudobulbs that can store excess water, or have a root system that takes nutrients from both air and water, so their need for added water is less than you might expect. For instance, the popular phalaenopsis orchid, only takes water about once a week.

MISTAKE #2: Low Humidity – Even though you can overwater, if an orchid is grown in low humidity, it will dry out and die rather quickly. While you might not need to water orchids directly very often, they need to be able to draw water in from the air around them, and if the water content in that air is too low, they’ll die of thirst. (This is why many people grow orchids in their bathrooms, or use a humidifier for proper orchid care.)

MISTAKE #3: Use of Soil – Many people bring their orchids home and proudly plop them in a pot full of soil, expecting great results. But within a few weeks, the plant is dead. Yikes!

This is because orchids just don’t do well with soil. They need a loose and aerated potting mix so that the roots have plenty of room to breathe and draw water from the air around them. Soil just has a tendency to smother these plants, so avoid it at all costs in your orchid care!

MISTAKE #4: Direct Lighting – All orchids require at least some type of lighting, and some may even require direct lighting at different points. No orchid, however, requires direct lighting ALL of the time.

If you leave an orchid out in the sun 24×7, you can expect it to sunburn just as a person would, and the plant may never fully recover from this. These are delicate plants, so remember to treat them that way with your orchid care.

MISTAKE #5: Insufficient Fertilizer – While soil is bad for orchids, fertilizing mix, with the right blend of nutrients, is key to getting great growth and blossoms. Because orchids vary greatly, check into what the best kind of fertilizer mix is for your particular species of orchid. Then and match it as closely as you can.

MISTAKE #6: Transplanting While in Bloom – All orchids need to be repotted once in a while, but you should never make the mistake of doing this while the plant is in bloom!

While an orchid is blooming, all the energy the plant has in is going towards producing those blooms. Any move to a new pot is always a shock to a plant, and orchids often can’t handle this kind of shock when they’ve diverted their energy to blooming. With that in mind, try to schedule your repotting to take place before and after the plant blooms.

MISTAKE #7: Choosing the Wrong Orchid – Finally, be sure you pick the right orchid for YOU. Every orchid has different environmental and orchid care needs, so it only makes sense to pick a plant that you’ll be well able to care for.

If a plant requires high humidity and you live in the desert, does it make sense to choose it? While you may have your heart set on a particular type of orchid, if you aren’t going to be able to give it the care it needs, you’ll never be happy with it (and it certainly won’t be happy with you either!).

There are thousands of types to choose from out there. Take your time! Find the one that will work well with the kind of orchid care environment and support that you can realistically provide.

So there you have it, the most common mistakes that beginners typically make when growing orchids. Now that you know what to look out for, orchid care should be a cinch!

And now, for even more proven orchid growing tips, download my totally FREE 5-Day Orchid Insider training course by going here: “Orchid Care Insider Secrets“.

Your Comments

25 Comments so far

  1. James says:

    Thank you, Thank you for the post. I have had trouble with orchids in the past and now I know why, I was overwatering them. This is a fantastic list for anyone who is serious about owning an orchid.

  2. Nancy Sharper says:

    Count me one of those orchid owners who has made over half of these mistakes. 🙂 Orchids are an amazing flower and beautiful, but boy do they need work. Thanks for the post.

  3. Bill says:

    Thanks for the heads up on direct lighting, I would have thought the more sun the better and wow I had no idea that orchids get sunburned. Thanks again for such a great post.

  4. Bill Chambers says:

    I have at one time in my life made all seven of these mistakes, but the great thing about knowing what they are make you a better orchid raiser and most often then not the good outways the bad. Thanks for the great post.

  5. Lauren Baily says:

    #7 is the one mistake I am always afraid to make. For this reason I am always a little reluctant to buy an orchid, however after reading your blog I feel confident enough to do so. Thank You.

  6. Reed says:

    Count me one of the many who has made not one but many of these mistakes. I really appreciate you taking the time to post these because when you first have an orchid it is hard not to make these mistakes. Cheers.

  7. kay says:

    thanks your tips are really helpful

  8. Viv Harpa says:

    Hi thank you for sending me your tips.They are so helpful for a beginner.Regards Viv NZ

  9. Donna says:

    Thank you! I was looking to see if I could transplant my beautiful Purple Orchid that was in bloom.. Thank god I came across your article.. I guess I will wait a while. It is in full bloom and has another shoot coming! 🙂

    • Mary Ann says:

      Thanks for your comment, Donna! I’m thrilled you found helpful information. Yep – wait a little bit. 🙂 Let us know how your orchid is doing! – Mary Ann

  10. Raz Zack says:

    I have never grown any kind of orchids, but since I was in primary school I used to look in admiration at photos of orchids especialy Catleya. I allways wanted to grow one of these wonderfull plants but never did so. Now, thanks to you, I am gathering the basic information to start growing these lovely plants.
    Thanks again.

    • Mary Ann says:

      Fantastic! 🙂 I’m thrilled that you are starting to pursue these beautiful plants! I’m sure you will love the growing experience. Let us know how it’s going! – Mary Ann

  11. Tia says:

    A good site for a beginner. My love for orchids began with rescuing one. Last February 2011, my tenant had thrown it in the recycle bin before leaving which I picked up. Being a newbee, I researched day and night, nursed it back to health and within 6 months it started flowering and it has three spikes now as I am writing this ( (one of them is an old one from last year and there is a little mitten thingy coming out from the unflowered spike, it gave two spikes but didn’t have enough energy. See its way of saying “Thank You”. I simply love them and have quite a collection now,except one all are spiking.

    • Mary Ann says:

      That’s awesome, Tia! 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing your story. I’m thrilled you were able to save it! – Mary Ann

  12. vanessa says:

    Thank you so much for these great advise. I recently got some baby orchids so I’m learning a lot from you. Thanks again.

  13. Leslie Szentlaszloi says:

    I just love beautiful orchids. I got a purple one from a florist, and it started wilting. I had it by my front door. I have moved it away from the draft. Now, I just got another one (more pinkish.) It’s pot does not have drainage from the bottom. I am not sure what to do? This is a beauty. Leslie

    • Mary Ann says:

      That’s great! 🙂 You can make holes in the pot to allow for drainage, or you can repot it. But it does need drainage for sure. 🙂 – Mary Ann

  14. Pedro says:

    Thanks very much, very helpful, I was having problems with direct light.

  15. Benasolo says:

    It’s very useful for publishing these mistakes.
    Thank you very much Mary Ann !

  16. Mary-Anne says:

    Maryanne, I am going on holiday for 3 weeks with no-one to nurse my Phaelanopsis 11 of them. what do you suggest, please

    • Mary Ann says:

      If you were leaving for only a week, you could take care of it yourself by watering before you leave and setting your temperature on a timer preferably to change during the day and night. So that buys you one week. But for the last 2 weeks, unfortunately, you’ll need someone to water them. :-/ Is there anyone you could think of that could come do that? Or is there someone you could leave them with? That second suggestion is not ideal obviously because the conditions in your house are where you want to keep them if possible. Is there a nursery nearby? Or an orchid society nearby? Perhaps a greenhouse nearby could keep them? That would be a viable option. I’m sorry I don’t have a magic solution for you. Good luck!! – Mary Ann

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