How Not to Murder Your Orchid (for Real This Time)
You’re enamored with your new orchid: It’s delicate, elegant, feminine and...are the petals seriously turning brown and falling off already? Don’t let your black thumb kill another plant this pretty (and pricey) ever again. We checked in with an NYC florist for three secret tips to keep these babies thriving.
Secret 1: Terra-cotta
Our florist swears that porous, breathable terra-cotta pots are the best and only vehicle for keeping a happy orchid. Since they're primarily decorative, orchids are often sold in fancy urns and vessels, but these homes will kill your plant in due time (since there’s minimal air flow). If you simply must have an orchid in a ginger jar, place a terra-cotta pot inside it with a few inches of breathing room around the sides. Do not attempt to repot—it’s much too traumatic for the plant to survive.
Secret 2: Morning Sunlight
The perfect lighting cocktail for a happy orchid is bright, morning sunshine, so always place near an east-facing exposure with no drafts (even if that means having a bathroom orchid instead of a dining room orchid). It’s also important that light be indirect (think a table adjacent to a window rather than the sill itself, or behind a sheer curtain).
Secret 3: The “Double Soak”
To give your plant a deep drink without overwatering (the number one orchid killer, folks), fill a watering can with room temperature water and thoroughly soak then drip-dry not once but twice. Let’s break this thing down:
1) Hold your orchid in its plastic shell container over the sink.
2) Pour the water evenly over the surface, avoiding the crown, which is prone to rotting when saturated, until the water pools just slightly atop the soil. (If you do happen to wet the leaves, wipe them dry with a cloth.)
3) Wait while the water streams out of the perforated holes on the bottom of the container and into the sink.
4) Once completely dripped dry (no more water leaking out), give it a second soak for good measure.
5) Return your plant to its terra-cotta vessel.
This should be repeated approximately every seven to ten days. (It’s good to check your plants relative dryness more like every other day by poking a finger into the soil and seeing if it's still slightly damp. If not, give it a double shot.)