Orchids often have spectacular blooms, and add a touch of exotic beauty to any home. Growing orchids is a popular hobby, but many people labor under the misapprehension that it is difficult and expensive to raise them, and that orchid growing is a hobby for experienced specialists. However, this is not true. Many species of commonly available orchids can be grown at home with little fuss, and bit of tender loving care is all it takes to have gorgeous orchid blooms at home year after year.

You will need:

*  A window sill or table to place your orchids on

*  A window or artificial lighting for orchids to get appropriate light (see below)

*  A timer for the lights

*  A spray bottle

*  Pots

*  Saucers

*  Orchid potting mix

*  Liquid fertilizer


Select some less finicky but showy orchids for your home collection. These include Phalaenopsis, Oncidium sherry baby, and some Cattleya hybrids. These are commonly available in garden stores, and even in supermarkets these days. They are also comparatively inexpensive (often less than $20 a plant) A garden store associate should be able to advise you on the varieties that are easiest to grow.


growing orchids under lights indoors

Set up a rack with overhead lights (as shown in the picture) where you will place the orchids. All the materials are easily available in home improvement stores. For lighting, I recommend Phillips Natural Sunshine fluorescent lights which are available at Amazon.com or Home Depot. These cost only about $6 each and work well for many orchids, but cost only a fraction of what specialized grow lights would cost. Four lights for each shelf should suffice (two light fixtures with two bulbs each, per shelf). Change out at least half the bulbs every year as they tend to get dimmer over time.


Put the lights on a timer and keep them on an "on" cycle for 8 to 10 hours a day


If possible, place the shelf near a window where the orchids will get some gentle morning sunlight, so as to supplement the artificial light. Make sure that they don't get direct sunlight in the afternoon, or even in the late morning, as they prefer diffused light. Orchids like the light, but burn up if exposed to the harsh and hot sunlight of the late morning or afternoon


Put trays of water under the shelves, and also put smaller containers of water among your pots to increase the humidity around the orchids. This is especially important in winter if the house tends to be dry and hot.


Arrange your orchids on the shelves as shown in the picture. Water once a week. You can also spray the roots with water in a spray bottle if there are many roots hanging out of the pots. And you can spray them between waterings to keep the humidity up, in case it's very dry in the house.


Add liquid fertilizer to the water every other time you water, i.e., every other week. If you are using orchid fertilizer (available in garden stores) follow the instructions on the package, or if it is generic fertilizer, use it at half strength


In the spring and summer, you can put your orchid pots outside in the natural light, as long as the temperature is above 50F. Again, make sure they are not exposed to direct sunlight in the late morning or afternoon. They do well in shaded but well-lit areas, such as hanging from tree branches. You can also increase the frequency of watering during the hottest times of the year.


*  Unless you live in warmer climates like in the southern United States, it is better to avoid Cymbidium orchids which are commonly available in supermarkets, as they don't often bloom without more specialized set-ups than the ones described here.


*  This article does not describe how to pot orchids, but consult other references for this. Also make sure you re-pot them every couple of years, as the potting mix tends to degrade. There are lots of articles on the web about all aspects of orchid care. Basically, many orchids grow on tree branches in nature (rather than in the soil) and have aerial roots, and therefore require a specialized orchid potting mix containing tree bark, charcoal and other ingredients. Orchid potting mix is usually available in home and garden stores.



*  Do not over-water your orchids! While orchids like to be watered well, they should also be well drained and allow to dry out between waterings, otherwise they are susceptible to rot