Orchid Care Tips: Growing Phalaenopsis Orchids

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Orchids can be found in almost any grocery store, large retailer, or home improvement store.

This once elusive tropical plant is now trendy and mainstream.

Designers are using them as home décor accessories to bring color and modern flair to homes.

Orchids instantly make a room fashionably on-trend.

It’s common to see them in magazine photos and television shows.

If you have been hesitant to try growing one, we want to give you easy orchid care tips to make it easy!

Purlple Phalaenopsis Orchid flower

Selecting an Orchid

Moth orchids (also known as Phalaenopsis orchids) are some of the most common orchids sold at retail.

They get their name from the large petals that resemble a moth.

Fortunately, these are great for beginners.

When selecting an orchid, choose plants with a strong flower stalk and plenty of unopened flower buds.

This ensures a long bloom time!

Leaves should be clean and free from blemishes and dark spots.

They should also appear full and plump. Wrinkled leaves indicate that the plant hasn’t been watered properly and is dehydrated.


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When to Water

There is no standard guideline for watering frequency.

It is more art than science.

However, it’s better to err on the side of underwatering than overwatering.

It’s easier to hydrate a dry orchid than to save one from rot.

Generally, when the top 1-2 inches of the potting mix is dry, it is time to water.


Want to get your plants looking as good as the day you bought them?


The best way to determine this is to feel the top inch or two of the potting mix with your finger.

Another method is to gauge the weight of the container after watering.

Water again when the pot becomes significantly lighter.

Factors such as airflow, temperature, and humidity will affect watering frequency.

Light purple Phalaenopsis orchid growing in a clear pot

How to Water

I place plants in a utility sink so that I can generously add water to the pot.

Focus the water on the potting mix and roots, avoiding leaves and flower stalks.

A watering can with a narrow spout is helpful.

Although it won’t inherently hurt the plant to get water on it, I find that I have fewer problems with leaf diseases and crown rot issues when I keep leaves dry.

Allow the plant to sit for a few minutes and drain completely.

Bag of Orchid Potting Mix
It’s important to use an orchid mix when repotting


Water again and allow all the excess water to drain.

This allows the roots to absorb plenty of water but keeps them from “sitting” in excess moisture.

This method of watering promotes deep, strong root growth while removing any excess fertilizer salts.

There is also a movement to use ice cubes to water orchids.

While this is an easy and simple way to water, it may not be the best alternative long term as orchid roots need an occasional thorough drenching to remove excess salts from fertilizers.

Also, ice cubes can cause frost damage if placed on exposed roots and leaves.



Fertilizing orchids regularly will increase growth and promote flowering.

Use a water-soluble fertilizer or a slow-release fertilizer that is made specifically for orchids.

Ideally, water the orchid first, then fertilize it.

This prevents roots from burning if they have direct contact with the fertilizer.

If using the liquid fertilizer, fertilize them  2-3 times per month during the spring and summer.

Orchids grow more slowly in fall and winter, so decrease fertilizer frequency by half in fall and winter.

When using a slow-release fertilizer (my favorite way) just apply the prills in the spring and you don’t have to worry about it again until next spring!


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Light Requirements

It is hard to give an orchid too much indirect light.

They prefer a location in the home that faces south or east.

Windows that face west can be too hot and sunny during the summer months.

However, they may be perfect in cooler seasons.

Orchid leaves can become sunburned, so avoid placing them in hot, direct sun.

Bag of Orchid slow release fertilizer
Slow-release fertilizer is a great way to fertilize orchids


Similarly, the leaves can freeze if they come in contact with a cold window in winter.

Orchids will also grow in bright rooms that have lights on most of the day.

An orchid’s leaf color indicates whether it is receiving appropriate light levels.

Orchids with dark green leaves are not receiving enough light.

They may be healthy, but will not bloom.

Light green leaves with yellow tones indicate that the orchid is receiving enough light to bloom.


A bag of Organic Orchid Potting Mix
When repotting orchids, it’s important to use a potting mix specifically designed for them.


Bonus Orchid Care Tips

  • Orchids like humid environments, so a humidifier may be necessary for extremely dry environments.
  • Orchids thrive in a room with good air circulation. However, they prefer not to be in the direct path of a breeze. An overhead fan on the lowest setting is sufficient.
  • The American Orchid Society has an entire website dedicated to orchids!

Orchids have become very trendy and fashionable plants.

Although they are unusual and exotic, don’t hesitate to give them a try.

Follow these simple orchid care tips and you will have a beautiful addition to your home décor!

Want to learn more about Phalaenopsis orchids? We have a workshop for learning how to care for them and how to get them to rebloom, click here to learn more!

Pinterest Pin Photo of Purple Orchid Flowers with text overlay: Orchid Care Tips

34 thoughts on “Orchid Care Tips: Growing Phalaenopsis Orchids”

  1. Hi Deb, I live in Upper Michigan and have bought 1 large and 2 small orchids on sale at the grocery store. They had seen better days. I took them home and just gave them regular care and I always have at least one of them blooming. The large one now has 8 buds – can’t wait for it to bloom.
    Thanks for your hints.

  2. Hi Shannon! Thanks for sharing this info. Great article…I think I’m going to finally try to grow an orchid! Thank you again!

  3. I cut my orchid stems after they finished blooming, how long will it take for noticeable growth?

    • Hi Elaine, it really depends on the amount of light they receive. Sometimes it can be many months- even next spring! Grow lights can help if there isn’t enough natural light. Best wishes, Shannon

  4. My flower stem for my orchid `has dried up and been gone for almost 2 years. Is it possible it will grow a new one,
    and how do I help it to grow one.

    • Hi Deb, yes it can grow a new one. I suggest putting it in a new location that has more indirect light. Also, moth orchids initiate flower buds when the nights are slightly cooler than the days. So lowering the temperature at night a little might help it set buds. Best wishes! -Shannon

  5. I received beautiful orchid plant. It has beautiful flowers blooming, needed advise to look after them so that it looks healthy and beautiful as it is please let know how often do I water them and do I need to repot it.thankyou

  6. Hi I received a tiny orchard for mothers day and it came in a really small pot and I can see that the roots are coming out on the top of the plant it has flowers and buds on it should I repot it and if so how much bigger would the pot have to be thank you Tammy Phillips

  7. Hi Shannon. I gave 2 moth orchids that I bought about 4 years ago. Both have rebloomed several times for me. I repotted them a year ago and that’s when my trouble started. One is doing well. Bright leaves lots of new roots, both air and soil. No stems yet but I’m not worried. The other one is giving me fits. The leaves shriveled and turned duller/ darker. Some of the roots turned dark and looked unhealthy. It is growing new roots, but the leaves have fallen off. It has 1 new leaf starting to emerge. It was transplanted at the same time and the same way as the 1st orchid. Both are watered and cared for the same way. Both sit next to each other on a shelf in an East facing window. The problem one has a lot of air roots starting. Any idea on what to do and why it’s struggling? Thanks, Dale

    • Hi Dale, sometimes plants go through a transplant shock for no apparent reason. If the problem orchid doesn’t improve soon, I would consider repotting it into a new, sterile pot with new orchid mix and trim away any roots that appear diseased or rotted. Moth orchids get aerial roots, so don’t be concerned about that- it’s a good sign that it’s growing out of the shock. Best wishes! -Shannon

  8. Is it possible to fix root rot?? I received an orchid recently and when I pulled it out to water it the bottom roots are rotted and it looks like there might white mold thru the soil, the blooms have started to wilt and I’m really concerned.

    • Hi Charlie, It’s possible to reverse root rot, but very challenging. I suggest cutting away any rotted roots and leaves and treating the cut surfaces with cinnamon. Then, repot it in a new pot with brand new orchid mix. I suggest using a pot that has good air circulation like an unglazed clay pot with good drainage or a pot specifically designed for orchids. The key is to not let the leaves and roots remain wet as this promotes disease. Best wishes!- Shannon

  9. Hi. I have an orchid that I recieved for my birthday 2 years ago. It definitely needs re potted but it has never stopped blooming. Will it hurt it if I repot it with a few blooms on it?

    • Hi Amber, that is awesome that it hasn’t stopped blooming! There is a strong likelihood that if you repot it, the existing buds will drop. The fact that it hasn’t stopped blooming indicates that it doesn’t mind being a bit pot-bound and is doing fine. I would suggest waiting a little longer to see if it stops blooming to repot it then. Enjoy your flowers! -Shannon

  10. My has dropped the bloom , a new leaf is growing at the base . Do I trim any of the stim ? Or just wait for it to bloom again ?

    • Hi Bev, it depends on what type of orchid it is. If it’s a Phalaenopsis (Moth Orchid) which is the most common type sold in retail stores, then you can leave the stem and new buds can form on it. For most all other orchids, the flower stalk needs to be removed until a new one forms. If you aren’t sure, you can remove the stem either way and wait for a new one to form. Best wishes with it! -Shannon

  11. Hi, can I use tap water or does it have to be rain water?

    Also when is the best time to buy an orchid?

    • Hi Allison, you can use either. I let my tap water sit in an open container for at least 24 hours to let the chlorine evaporate for all my plants. I don’t think there is ever a bad time to buy an orchid! 🙂 Seriously, I don’t think it matters, the time of year. I just look for plants that have more closed buds than open ones so I can enjoy the flowers longer. Happy Gardening! -Shannon

  12. I got my mini orchid for Mother’s Day. It was doing beautiful. I gave it an ice cube every Sunday and had it in window in my bathroom. Then all the flowers fell off. Now I have this long stem with nothing on it. Do I cut it? The leaves look good still.

    • Hi Sharon, If it is a Phalaenopsis orchid, they can re-bloom on the same stem. Some people like to keep the stalk and others like to trim it off and let it grow a new one. So, it first depends on the type of orchid you have. Most of the orchids sold during Mother’s Day are Phalaenopsis. Happy Gardening! -Shannon

  13. I have an orchid that has sticky , clear syrup looking beads on the back of my leaves, will this hurt it? Also I keep mind in the bay window and some has blooded twice now right after each other .
    Also how do I trim the stem after blooms? Do you have a book you recommended for me to buy to help me when needed ?

    • Hi Jane, The sticky substance may be honeydew a byproduct of bugs. I wrote an article about houseplant bugs you can read about it here: https://trilliumlivingllc.com/get-rid-houseplant-bugs/ If your orchid is a Phalaenopsis, you can leave the flower stock on and it will rebloom from it. Most other orchids need to have the flower stalk removed at the base and it will rebloom again in 2-3 months (you can trim the stalk on the Phalaenopsis and it will rebloom in 2-3 months too). As far as a book, I suggest checking out your library first to find a book that is written in a style that you like before investing in it. The American Orchid Society has great publications too. Happy Gardening! -Shannon

  14. I have an oncidium that looks like it’s leaves just have no luster to them. They look like they have white spots on back of leaves. They are not bugs. I know that. The tops were turning brown so I trimmed those off. What can I do to liven it up?

    • Hi Mary Ellen, I would suggest using a magnifying glass just to double-check that it isn’t spider mites. They are so small that they are hard to see with the naked eye. There is also a virus orchids get called Orchid Fleck Virus. You are welcome to send me photos at [email protected]. Happy Gardening! -Shannon

    • Hi Shawn, orchids usually need to be repotted every 1-2 years. There are two types of orchids- those that grow vertically and those that grow horizontally. When the vertical growers start to get lanky, they need to be repotted. When the horizontal growers get roots outside the edge of the pot, they need a bigger pot. However, never repot them when they are in bloom or the flowers will go into shock and they will drop. Early spring is a good time to time to repot. Thanks! -Shannon

  15. I have a2 orchids one of the plants the leaves shrivled up, i see i wasnt wayering enough i cut 1 leaf do i cut other as close as i can. Also theres a new leaf growth but im noticeing a bit of brown on the edge of the leaf. Its healthy looking what should i do. I have one more ? I bought the orchid pots with holes all around tends to make a mess, i can deal with that. I repotted bot in orchid suggested. Mainly bark… Do i still drench in sink every time i water, friend said just to add a bit around the base. Sorry so many ??s i dont want to lose them, im getting the fever i see another addition any day now. Both of mine quit blooming i cut stem back

    • Hi Diane, remove any dead leaves at the base. The brown leaf edges is probably due to low humidity. If you put a shallow tray of water with pebbles under the pots (don’t let the pots sit in water) this will help raise the humidity in their vicinity. Drenching with water is the best way to water and the roots like to get the air from the holes in the pots. You are on the right path, great job! -Shannon

  16. My orchids flower stalk has dried up right down to it’s bottom. Will a.New one grow in to take its place?


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