Easy to grow orchids

Orchid enthusiast and Technical Editor of The Garden magazine, Jon Ardle, suggests five easy-to-grow orchids for the home.

Easy orchids to grow at home

Although moth orchids (Phalaenopsis) are the world's most popular house plants, there are several other types of orchid that are more widely available, cheaper and just as attractive.

Moth orchids have been produced by tissue culture in their tens of millions, but similar techniques have been applied to other orchid genera, making them well worth considering.

Growing checklist

Orchids need the right conditions – light, temperature and humidity - and they should reward you with impressive blooms.

In the home, orchids fall into three main categories:

  • Warm-growing orchids, including moth orchids, prefer 16 - 18°C (60 - 64°F) at night and 18 - 29°C (64 - 85°F) by day.
  • Cool-growing orchids need a minimum 10°C (50°F), around 20°C (68°F) during the day.
  • Intermediate orchids need minimum 13 - 15°C (55 - 60°F) by night, around 24°C (75°F) daytime.

Orchids to try

CymbidiumCymbidium (right): cool growing. Easy to grow, these are plants with strappy leaves and spikes of large, elegant flowers in green, yellow, white or pink. They need bright but indirect light, and plants enjoy being outdoors June to September (which aids flower bud initiation).

Miltonia: cool to intermediate growing. Pansy orchids are so called for the shape of their large, open, face-like flowers in shades of white, yellow, pink or red. They're often beautifully marked in contrasting colours. Keep them in bright but indirect light.

Paphiopedilum: intermediate to warm growing. Slipper orchids charm some people and repel others. Tropical species grow on the floor of rainforests so are adapted to low light but need high humidity. Hybrids with attractively spotted leaves prefer warmer temperatures.

DendrobiumDendrobium (right): - cool growing and more tolerant of low humidity than most. These are unmistakeable for their thick, elongated pseudobulbs or canes, producing many flowers in white, yellow, pink or red.

Odontoglossum: tiger orchids are intermediate growers from the high Andes. They produce many star-shaped flowers in long, arching sprays, in white, yellow, pink or red, often heavily marked and spotted. Grow them in bright, indirect light. High humidity preferred.

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