Orchids for beginners - help and advice on orchids as houseplants...

OK so you have bought your first orchid, it’s probably a Phalaenopsis, and you got it at a garden centre or the supermarket.

The Phalaenopsis orchid is often referred to as the moth orchid, and comes in a variety of shapes sizes and colours.

 All have the same growth habit, which is three to five or more flat fleshy leaves, with one or two flowering stems growing from between them, and each stem can hold from 6 to over a dozen beautiful blooms.

They make excellent house plants, but don't forget to make certain that the temperature at night stays above 58deg. f or the plant will suffer.

The leaves as fleshy and rounded, sometimes attractively mottled.

phalaenopsis Cultural Information...

Cymbidium (pronounced sim-bid-ee-urn) must rank as one of the best known and widely popular of all orchids.
The genus consists of about 50 species and, from these, thousands of hybrids have been bred.

The wild types are found growing naturally in China, and Japan through the Himalayas, South East Asia to Australia.
They may be terrestrial in habit or epiphytic or even lithophytic (growing on rocks).

Cool growing orchids will burn easily in full sun, and do best in a temperature range of 50 to 65 deg. The cymbidium actually enjoys being outside for the summer, but make sure it cannot be eaten by pests, or absolutely soaked in wet weather.

cymbidium Cultural Information...


These orchids are the most sumptuous and exotic of all and are chosen for corsages.

In nature there are about 50 species each of Cattleya and of Laelia from Central America, growing through the Amazon region to the south of Brazil.

Each year a dormant bud at the base grows into a new shoot. This thickens to produce the current year's pseudobulb. The flowers arise from the axil of the current year's leaf where a protective sheath usually develops, and come in a range of colours from white and pink to green and purple, depending on the parentage and genera. Some flower twice yearly.

cATTLEYA Cultural Information...


There are over a thousand known species of Dendrobium (pronounced den-dro-bee-urn), the image to the lest  is that of dendrobium thrysiflorum, a native of Thailand and the Himalayas, which can grow into a massive plant bearing many hundreds of blooms; still more are being discovered in the highlands of New Guinea. This makes them the second largest orchid genus in the world after Bulbophyllum.

The varieties which make good houseplants are nobile types, these flower along the main canes
Phalaenopsis denrdrobiums (singapore orchids) which flower in a similar fashion to phalaenopsis.
Dendrobium Kingianum There flowers appear in late winter and early spring in loose sprays at the tops of the canes on both the old and new canes.

dendrobium Cultural Information...

Popular orchids for the home, conservatory or greenhouse

how to look after your orchids

Advice on orchids for beginners....

Where is the best place to keep an orchid? well for warm growing Phalaenopsis, look around your house to find a nice well lit window, ideally facing east or west, and having some shade, i.e. a net curtain, as the mid-day sun will damage and burn the leaves, next think about the temperature, if the night time temperature in this position falls below 55 deg. The plant will suffer.

If looked after properly orchids will live and flower once or twice each year for many years to come. Orchids do need water, water thoroughly, water about once every 7 days in summer, and about once every 10 days in dark cooler winters, when you should make sure the water isn't freezing (tepid will do nicely). always water well from the top, don't let the pot stand in water, never water at night, morning is best. this allows the plant to dry out before the cooler night time, and will help stop rot setting in.

Don't over feed, feed with a quarter strength of something like tomorite if you cannot get an orchid feed, and then only feed once in every four watering cycles. You should also read up on our page popular orchids and orchid culture, for information on how and when to water an orchid; instructions on how to re-pot an orchid are covered on our orchid potting page.

Of course you may have only bought the one orchid, perhaps two, but the world of orchids is populated with many varieties, most of which you will not seein a supermarket or garden centre, but you will fall in love with; like the ones below

  • dendrochoillum glaumaceum

    dendrochilum glaumaceum

  • bulbophillum lobbii

    bulbophillum lobbii

  • oncidium orchid the dancing ladies


  • phragmipedium kovachii

    phragmipedium kovachii

  • stanhopea graveolens

    stanhopea graveolens

  • euanthe sanderianum

    vanda sanderiana

Categories house plants, orchids, how to grow orchids, advice, Norh of England Orchid Society