Orchids are an interior design staple, with graceful flower spikes loaded with colorful flowers that can last for months. Their roots often protrude from the pot and circle the deep green basal leaves, adding to the plant's sculptural look. There are over 30,000 different varieties of orchids all around the planet, but the most common types we have in our homes are Phalenopsis, Oncidium, and Dendrobium.
In their native tropical environment, orchids grow attached to tree canopies or rocks rather than in the soil. An orchid potting mix made of bark and charcoal will help the orchid feel at home, letting water wash over its roots and allowing for good air circulation. Repot orchids after they're done blooming. Disturbing the roots can cause the plants to drop their blossoms. Orchids like bright, indirect light like that filtering through the canopy of tropical trees. The best way to water is to soak the plant thoroughly in your sink and let it drain completely. Never leave the plant sitting in water. This can be done up to once a week when its warm, or every couple weeks when its cooler. If you notice yellowing of the leaves, reduce watering. Because the orchids we use in our homes originated in the tropics, we recommend not using ice cubes or cold water on them. Cold water can shock the roots, and some varieties will develop dark spotting on their leaves from the shock.
Orchid flowers can last for months. To encourage blooming, fertilize with a high-phosphorus (like 3-9-6) orchid fertilizer according to the directions on the label, or a high-phosphorus all-purpose fertilizer at half strength. When all the blossoms drop off the flower stalk, trim the stalk back to its base. Often, a new flower stalk will emerge. After the orchid has finished blooming, switch to a balanced fertilizer (like 10-10-10) until you notice a new flower stalk emerging. Generally orchids bloom once a year.