Orchids are incredibly popular houseplants. They have a reputation of being difficult to care for, but several types of orchids do well indoors without too much fuss.
As orchids have become more common, it is easier than ever to find beautiful varieties of orchids. You can find some orchids for sale for almost the same price as cut flowers. In fact, some orchids are sold as if they are disposable plants to be bought and replaced frequently.
But do you have to throw out and replace orchids every year? How well do they continue growing indoors and should you throw them out once they have finished blooming?
Do Orchids Come Back Every Year?
Orchids are perennial plants. This means that they bloom year after year rather than dying after flowering like annual plants. Depending on the type of orchid, some of them even flower multiple times a year with the right conditions.
Orchids naturally lose their flowers, but in most cases, this is not a reason to think that your orchids are dying. After blooming, orchids generally go through a period of dormancy.
During this time, orchids may appear to lose some of their luster and might appear dull. Continue caring for your orchid during this time of rest. The orchid should bloom again when the time is right.
How Long Can a Potted Orchid Live?
While caring for a potted orchid can sometimes be a finicky process, orchids are fairly hardy in their natural environment. In the wild, orchids are able to live about 20 years, depending on the type of orchid and the environment.
Potted orchids do not have quite the same life span, but with proper care, it is not usual for orchids to live for between 10 to 15 years. There are some reports of orchids living for significantly longer.
While these outliers are unusual, it does show that orchids are able to survive indoors for a long time if they receive good care. If you want your orchids to be around for a while, make sure that you provide the environment they need.
Focus on a few key factors to keep your orchids happy: sunlight, water, humidity, temperature, and growing medium. Different types of orchids have different requirements for these areas. The conditions that make a particular Phalaenopsis thrive might not work for a Brassavola.
Orchids are commonly available at grocery stores and big-box stores seasonally during the year, but these orchids are not always clearly marked. If you know which type of orchid you have, then you are better able to provide the correct environment and increase the likelihood that your orchid will live indoors for many years.
How Long Do Dendrobium Orchids Live?
The life span of Dendrobium orchids depends on the type of Dendrobium as well as the care that it receives. Like other orchids, Dendrobium orchids can survive indoors for between 10 to 15 years with good care.
To care for this popular group of orchids, keep them in a space with temperatures between 68-85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the night. Plan to water them about once a week, waiting until the soil is almost dry before watering again.
Dendrobium orchids can usually handle more light than other orchids. Place them in a location with morning sun and afternoon shade.
These orchids usually begin blooming between February to June. After flowering ends, the plant enters a growth phase until about September. Following the growth phase, Dendrobium orchids have a dormant stage. Even though there is no growth during the dormant stage, the cycle will restart in the spring. This cycle can continue for years.
How Long Do Phalaenopsis Orchids Live?
Phalaenopsis orchids are a popular, easy-to-care-for orchid. For this reason, Phalaenopsis are readily available to buy and sometimes inexpensive. Some people buy them, throw them out after they bloom, and buy new ones the following year; but you don’t have to get rid of them so quickly. Like other orchids, Phalaenopsis orchids can live as houseplants for between 10 to 15 years.
Since Phalaenopsis are considered hardier as houseplants than other orchids, it is more likely that these plants will survive for longer with less experienced orchid growers. Phalaenopsis are perfect choices for beginners.
To increase the chances that your Phalaenopsis orchid will thrive for years, place them in a location in your home with indirect sunlight and a constant temperature. Water them more frequently during the summer (every few days) and less frequently during the winter months. Be sure that you are providing enough humidity in the environment.
Most Phalaenopsis orchids bloom in late winter or early spring. These orchids have blooms that typically last for a long time. In summer, Phalaenopsis usually lose their bloom. However, most of them can be encouraged to bloom multiple times during the year by manipulating the temperature of their environment.
How Long Do Brassavola Orchids Last?
Brassavola orchids are normally smaller and less showy than other orchids, but they are prized for the intense fragrance of their flowers. Their flowers last for several weeks, and it is not uncommon for these orchids to bloom multiple times a year.
For an orchid, Brassavola is relatively easy to take care of. With good care, you can expect this orchid to live for several years.
To keep Brassavola happy, place them in a location with good, indirect light. They should be watered multiple times a week during their growing season. Keep the temperature in the environment between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day with a drop of about 10 degrees during the night. Since they bloom so frequently, Brassavola can benefit from fertilizer more often as well.
Brassavola usually grows on trees or suspended on rocks in the wild, and they do well as mounted orchids. Some growers find that Brassavola thrives when it is mounted, but this depends on whether you are comfortable taking care of mounted orchids.
How Long Do Orchids Take to Grow?
Most people buy orchids that are already mature. You might not realize it, but most orchids available for sale are already four years old at minimum. Growing orchids takes patience.
Orchids can be started by cuttings, by division, and by seed. Out of these options, growing orchids from cuttings and by division are the easiest.
Some orchids produce keikis (baby orchid shoots that develop roots and a stem). These keikis can be removed from the mother plant and placed in their own containers. A keiki usually develops into a mature plant within two years.
Not all orchids produce keikis, but most types of Dendrobium, Epidendrum, and Phalaenopsis orchids produce them when conditions are right. Keikis are a clone of the mother plant, and produce new plants that look exactly like the original plant.
Another method to produce new orchids is division. In this process, the mother plant is split when it is repotted. This method yields mature orchids that are exactly the same as the mother plant (which makes sense because they are literally just the mother plant split into multiple parts).
Sympodial orchids like Cattleya, Cymbidium, Dendrobium, and Oncidium can all be divided because they grow sideways. New stems grow next to each other, filling up pots more quickly than other orchids.
This is the easiest way to produce new orchids. Unfortunately, not all orchids can be divided.
As odd as it may sound, seeds are the most difficult way to grow new orchids. It can take anywhere from 9 months to 2 years for orchid seeds to germinate. Once a seed germinates, it takes at least 2 years of care to provide just the right conditions for orchids to even begin blooming.
This task is best left for those with lots of patience or for professional orchid operations.
There are some advantages to growing from seeds, though. New hybrids are produced from seeds. Other methods only produce clones of the mother plant. The process can be extremely rewarding even though it takes a long time.
How Long Do Orchids Bloom Indoors?
If you have an orchid, then you want to enjoy its blooms for as long as possible. Orchids are the largest family of blooming plants with more than 30,000 species, so there is not just one answer to how long orchids bloom indoors. Different types of orchids have different blooming patterns.
In general, orchid bloom lasts from between 6 to 10 weeks. Most orchids only bloom once per year, but there are some orchids that bloom multiple times a year when conditions are right. Phalaenopsis orchids in particular are usually able to bloom several times in the same year. Growers can manipulate the temperature to trick some Phalaenopsis orchids into thinking that it is time to bloom again.
With planning, it is possible to build an orchid collection where something is blooming year-round. While fall is the most common season for orchids to bloom, some varieties bloom in winter, spring, or summer.
If you want blooms during a particular season, look for orchid varieties that bloom during that time. With so many types of orchids, you will be able to find something you love.
Should I Remove Dead Orchid Blooms?
All orchid blooms fade eventually. When this happens, it is time to remove the spent blossom. Removing the dead blossom improves the appearance of the orchid. Deadheading orchid blooms is not always completely necessary, but shriveled dead flowers are not exactly attractive.
For some orchids, removing spent blooms has additional benefits. Deadheading certain orchids triggers them to produce new blooms.
Of course, you can choose to leave dead orchid blooms on your orchids until they fall off on their own. This is what happens to orchids in their natural environment, and it certainly does not harm the plants to leave things as they are.
I would not keep dead orchid blooms on display, but if it doesn’t bother you, then you do not absolutely have to remove them.
Orchid Care FAQ
Wondering how to care for orchids to ensure they live as long as possible? Here are a few common questions about orchid care.
FAQ: Can orchids recover from overwatering?
Overwatering can be a serious problem for orchids. Roots saturated in water do not have access to oxygen, and the orchid suffers.
If you notice signs of overwatering, remove orchids from pooled water. Cut off any roots that are soft and dark. Roots that are still green or white and firm may be able to continue growing if they are placed in a growing medium that allows excess water to drain properly. Treat with a root supplement to help prevent any future root infections.
Some orchids do make a recovery once their roots are allowed to dry out.
FAQ: Can orchids survive without watering?
In the wild, orchids typically live in tropical environments, but this does not mean that orchids will die if you miss watering them occasionally. Orchids can go two or three weeks without being watered. Orchids do not thrive under these conditions, but they can survive.
Of course, you will have to water the orchids eventually, otherwise, they will die. To keep your orchids in the best condition, water them regularly.
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