17 Orchid Growing Mistakes New Gardeners Make

With vibrant colored blossoms, orchids can enhance your home décor when grown in an equally beautiful pot.

Although orchids have a reputation for being difficult to grow, they can be found thriving across the globe.

With 25,000 species, orchids thrive when you successfully mimic their natural habitat.

Unlike other indoor plants, orchids are epiphytic and grow on branches of different trees.

So, growing them in the soil is the best way to kill orchids.

Gardening experts recommend growing them in perlite, bark, beat, and small stones.

Before proceeding further on orchid-growing tips, let’s first discuss orchid-growing mistakes that most gardeners make.

17 Orchid Growing Mistakes New Gardeners Make

Growing flowering plants can be fun and often excites novice gardeners, which can turn dangerous for plant growth.

Below mentioned are common growing mistakes that can be easily avoided to have a thriving indoor flowering plant.

1. Overwatering

    Reports claim that excess watering is one of the main reasons why most container gardeners fail to grow healthy plants.

    Like most indoor plants, Orchids do not like to sit in waterlogged soil, which can cause root rot. To avoid this, ensure the growing medium dries out completely before watering again.

    Though these flowering plants are native to the tropics, you shouldn’t water them in excess.

    How to fix:

    Watering only when the potting medium is dry. You can check it by inserting your index finger or stick.

    Also, ensure the pot has a drainage hole.

    Watering orchids in the early hours gives them enough time to dry out and halt fungal infestation.

    2. Underwatering

      Underwatering orchids can be just as detrimental as overwatering them. When orchids lack sufficient moisture, their growth can stutter, leading to several visible signs of distress. The leaves may become wrinkled and limp, indicating dehydration.

      Moreover, the roots may dry out and become brittle, hindering the plant’s ability to absorb essential nutrients and water. This results in weakened plants that are more susceptible to diseases and pest infestations.

      To ensure healthy growth, it is crucial to maintain a delicate balance in watering. The goal is to keep the growing medium consistently moist but not waterlogged.

      Regularly check the potting medium’s moisture level to avoid underwatering and support your orchid’s overall vitality.

      How to Fix:

      To remedy underwatering, soak the orchid pot in a basin of water for about 15-20 minutes, allowing the roots to rehydrate fully. Ensure the pot has drainage holes to let excess water escape after soaking.

      Additionally, establish a regular watering schedule and monitor the potting medium to keep it consistently moist but not saturated. This practice will help your orchid regain its vigor and promote healthy growth.

      3. Using the Wrong Potting Medium

        Orchids are epiphytic plants that grow on trees in their natural habitat, which means they don’t rely on soil for nutrients. Using regular potting soil or heavy garden soil can cause harm to the plant’s delicate roots and prevent proper airflow.

        Instead, use a well-draining potting medium that mimics the orchid’s natural environment. Materials such as bark chips, sphagnum moss, perlite, or charcoal can be used.

        The suitable potting medium will allow excess water to flow through quickly, preventing waterlogged roots and promoting air circulation. It also provides ample space for roots to grow and absorb essential nutrients from fertilizer.

        How to Fix:

        If your orchid is suffering because you used the wrong potting medium, repot it immediately into a proper mix.

        Carefully remove the plant from its current pot, gently untangle any tangled roots, and trim off any damaged or dead roots.

        Then, repot the orchid into a well-draining mix and ensure it is securely anchored in the pot.

        It’s best to repot your orchid during its active growing season when it can recover quickly from any root disturbance.

        4. Exposing Plants to Direct Sunlight

          While orchids need sufficient light to thrive, direct sunlight can be harmful, especially during the warm summer months.

          Exposing your orchid to direct sunlight for extended periods can cause leaf scorching and damage delicate blooms.

          Furthermore, the intense heat from direct sunlight can also dry out the potting medium quickly, leading to dehydration and stress on the plant.

          How to Fix:

          Place your orchid in a location with bright, indirect sunlight. This could be near a window with sheer curtains or under a shady tree outdoors. You can also use artificial grow lights if you don’t have enough natural light available.

          Monitor your plant regularly and adjust its position if it starts showing signs of sunburn or wilting due to excessive heat.

          5. Not Providing Enough Light

            Orchid plants need light to produce energy through photosynthesis, and without sufficient light, they won’t be able to thrive.

            If your orchid is not getting enough light, it will show signs of weak growth, small or pale leaves, and may even stop blooming altogether.

            How to Fix:

            Ensure your orchid is getting at least 12 hours of bright, indirect sunlight every day. If you’re growing them indoors, place them near a window that receives sufficient natural light. If you’re using grow lights, make sure they are on for 12 hours daily.

            You can also rotate your plant regularly to ensure all sides receive equal amounts of light and prevent the plant from leaning towards one direction.

            6. Not providing sufficient ventilation for your plant

              Good air circulation is essential for orchids as it helps prevent the buildup of excess moisture and prevents fungal or bacterial growth.

              Without proper ventilation, your orchid’s leaves can become yellow or floppy, and the plant may develop root rot.

              How to Fix:

              Ensure that your orchid has adequate space around it for air to circulate freely. Avoid overcrowding them with other plants or placing them in a closed container. If growing indoors, use an oscillating fan on low speed to create gentle air movement around your plant.

              You can also keep the area where you keep your orchid well-ventilated by opening windows or using a dehumidifier if necessary.

              7. Transplanting at the wrong time

                Orchids are sensitive plants, and any kind of stress can affect their blooming. Transplanting your orchid while it is blooming can shock the plant, causing it to drop its flowers prematurely.

                How to Fix:

                Wait until your orchid has finished blooming before attempting to transplant it. This way, you won’t risk damaging the delicate blooms or stressing out the plant. If repotting is necessary, wait until the flowering season is over to do so. 

                You can also plan and repot your orchid shortly after it has finished blooming in preparation for next year’s flowering season.

                8. Overfertilization

                  Contrary to popular belief, orchids do not require much fertilization. Applying too much fertilizer can actually harm your plant and cause it to produce weak, leggy growth.

                  How to Fix:

                  Only fertilize your orchid once a month during the growing season (spring and summer). Use a specialized orchid fertilizer diluted to half strength, or follow the instructions on the label carefully.

                  If you notice that your orchid’s leaves are turning yellow or brown, stop fertilizing and flush out the excess nutrients by watering with plain water for several weeks. Then, resume fertilizing at a reduced frequency.

                  Also Read: Can I use Orchid Fertilizer on Other Plants?

                  9. Choosing the Wrong Orchid Variety

                    There are thousands of orchid varieties, each with their specific care requirements. Some may require more sunlight or humidity than others, while some may be more tolerant of neglect.

                    How to Fix:

                    Before purchasing an orchid, please do your research and make sure you understand its specific care needs. Choose a variety that fits your environment and level of commitment.

                    If you already have an orchid but need help to keep it healthy, identify the variety and research its care requirements. You may need to adjust your care routine accordingly.

                    10. Promoting Low Humidity

                      Orchids are tropical plants that thrive in humid environments. Low humidity can dry out their delicate roots and wilt their leaves, leading to poor growth and even death.

                      How to Fix:

                      Invest in a humidifier or place your orchid on a tray filled with pebbles and water. Keep the water level just below the top of the pebbles so that the pot is not sitting directly in water.

                      You can also group your orchids together to create a mini “orchid greenhouse” where they can benefit from each other’s humidity.

                      By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure your orchid stays healthy and blooms beautifully year after year. With proper care and attention, these elegant flowers will continue to grace your

                      11. Misting Flowers and Leaves

                        Contrary to popular belief, misting orchids with water does not provide enough moisture for their roots. In fact, it can lead to bacterial or fungal growth on the leaves and flowers.

                        How to Fix:

                        Instead of misting, focus on providing consistent humidity through other methods, such as a humidifier or pebble tray. If you do choose to mist your orchid, make sure to use distilled or filtered water and avoid getting water on the flowers.

                        12. Using Tap Water

                          Most tap water contains chemicals like chlorine and fluoride that can be harmful to orchids. Over time, these chemicals can build up in the potting media and damage the roots.

                          How to Fix:

                          Use filtered or distilled water for watering your orchid. If you must use tap water, let it sit out overnight before using it to allow the chemicals to evaporate.

                          It is also essential to flush your orchid’s potting media with fresh, clean water every few months to prevent chemical buildup.

                          13. Don’t Use Too Hot or Cold Water

                            Orchids are sensitive to temperature changes, and using water that is too hot or too cold can shock their delicate roots.

                            How to Fix:

                            Always use room-temperature water to water your orchid. To ensure it is at the right temperature, you can also fill a larger container with water and let it sit overnight before using it.

                            14. Not Repotting Regularly

                              Orchids should be repotted every 1-2 years to ensure healthy root growth and prevent overcrowding. Neglecting to repot can lead to root rot and stunted growth.

                              How to Fix:

                              When repotting, make sure to use fresh potting media specifically designed for orchids. Gently remove the old potting media from the roots before placing them in a new pot with fresh media.

                              With these tips, you can give your orchid the best care possible and enjoy its stunning blooms for years to come. Remember to observe your orchid closely and adjust your care routine accordingly if you notice any signs of distress.

                              15. Not Cleaning Orchid Leaves

                                Dust and debris can accumulate on orchid leaves, blocking sunlight and hindering the plant’s ability to photosynthesize. This can result in the leaves’ yellowing or browning.

                                How to Fix:

                                Regularly clean your orchid leaves with a soft, damp cloth to remove any buildup. Avoid using harsh chemicals or cleaners as these can damage the delicate foliage.

                                By following these tips and giving your orchid proper care and attention, you can help it thrive and continue to reward you with beautiful blooms. Remember to research your specific type of orchid for additional care instructions, as different species may have unique needs.

                                16. Extreme Temperatures

                                  Orchids are sensitive to extreme temperatures and can suffer damage or even die if exposed to prolonged periods of cold or hot weather.

                                  How to Fix:

                                  Make sure to keep your orchid in a location with stable temperatures, ideally between 65-85°F (18-29°C). If the temperature drops below 60°F (15°C) at night, consider moving your orchid to a warmer spot or providing additional insulation. Similarly, if the temperature rises above 90°F (32°C), move your orchid to a cooler area or provide shade.

                                  17. Ignoring pests and diseases

                                    Pests and diseases can quickly spread and cause severe damage to your orchid if left untreated. Some common pests for orchids include aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects.

                                    fertilizing orchids

                                    How to Fix:

                                    Regularly check your orchid for signs of pests or diseases. If you notice any unusual spots or discoloration on the leaves or stems, immediately remove the affected areas and treat with an appropriate insecticide or fungicide recommended for orchids. It’s also important to regularly clean and sterilize your tools and pots to prevent the spread of potential pests.

                                    Conclusion

                                    Though orchids may seem delicate and high-maintenance, with proper care, they can thrive and continue to reward you with beautiful blooms.

                                    To avoid orchid growing mistakes mentioned above, know your specific type of orchid for additional care instructions, maintain stable temperatures, and regularly check for pests and diseases.

                                    By following these tips, you can enjoy the beauty of your orchid for many years to come. Happy growing! 

                                    So next time you see an orchid in a store or at a friend’s house, don’t be intimidated – armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to care for one yourself!

                                    Keep in mind that each individual species may have slightly different needs and preferences, so if you’re unsure about how to properly care for your specific orchids, do some extra research.

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