Published 2 December, 2019

The complexity, beauty and incredible diversity of orchids are unrivaled in the plant world. These exotic gems comprise the largest family of flowering plants on earth, with more than 30.000 different species and at least,  200.000 hybrids.

Within this large number of varieties and hybrids of orchids, there are many that are perfectly happy growing in the hollow of a sunny window or under artificial lights.

To obtain greater possibilities for success, choose one of the least demanding varieties that suits the type of growth conditions we can provide. Choose the most mature plant that the place has (young plants are much more difficult to please) and, if possible, choose one in bloom to know what we will strive for.


 Orchids can be classified by their native habitat, which gives an indication of the temperature, humidity and light levels they prefer. Orchids can be found in the equatorial tropics, the Arctic tundra and everywhere in between. The reason for this diversity lies in the incredible ability to adapt to its environment.

With so many different orchid varieties that thrive in so many different growing conditions, it is relatively easy to find an orchid that adapts well to the conditions we have.


Most cultivated orchids are native from the tropics. In their natural habitat, they adhere to the bark of trees or the surface of other plants. Its thick white roots are specially adapted to absorb moisture and dissolved nutrients. Because these tropical orchids generally grow in high places in the trees, instead of on the forest floor, they are accustomed to good air circulation and lot of light. They prefer a 12-hour day throughout the year and require a high intensity of light, almost the same as in summer conditions in temperate regions.

Native orchids in the humid tropics, such as phalaenopsis and paphiopedilum, prefer daytime temperatures of 20°C to 30°C, with 80 to 90 percent humidity. They are happier in a window located to east or southeast where the light is not too intense.


Warm-weather orchids, including cymbidiums and dendrobiums, are used to an average temperature of 13°C to 21°C, a constant supply of moisture and good air circulation. They are generally happy in a south-facing window, although they may need some shade during the summer.

Cattleyas and some oncides grow where the days are dry and relatively fresh. They are able to tolerate a long dry season with temperatures of 25°C or 32°C, followed by a different rainy season. Their need for light is high, so they should be placed in a sunny window facing south


High altitude orchids, such as masdevallia and the epidendrum, grow in cloud forests where average temperatures are 15°C to 20°C and humidity is very high. These orchids prefer filtered light, which is not too intense.


Orchids are usually grouped into two broad categories that characterize their growth habits: monopodial and sympodial.

Monopodial orchids have a single vertical stem, with leaves arranged opposite each other along the stem. The flower stem appears from the base of the upper leaves. Orchids with this growth habit include genera such as phalaenopsis, vandas and ascocentrum.

Sympodial orchids are the most common. Most of these orchids have pseudobulbs that function as reserves of water and nutrients. The plant supports the pseudobulbs almost vertically and the subsequent growth and development of new stems occurs horizontally, among the pre-existing pseudobulbs. Each new pseudobulb originates at the base of the previous ones and, with its growth, originates new leaves and roots. Some examples are those of the genera cattleya, cymbidium, oncidium and dendrobium.


All orchids need a lot of light to thrive, but nevertheless they do not support direct sunlight. The appropriate location can be near a window where it receives a lot of light, preferably with a curtain or blind. For those windows facing south or in the summer, which can enter direct sun, it is necessary to sift the light through curtains, blinds or canopies.

Another good practice may be to leave them in the shade of other larger indoor plants that withstand direct sunlight. Just as the direct sun is harmful, the lack of lighting is another big problem, which will limit the growth and flowering of the plant.

Some symptoms of not having the necessary light can be a growth of long, thin and yellowish leaves, which fall easily and cause the plant to not bloom. In these cases it is advisable to use artificial lighting.


The irrigation water quality in orchids is very important since they are extremely sensitive and delicate. A water with a high content of mineral salts will block the ability of the roots to absorb food, which is known as a nutrient lookout.

To avoid this problem we must use a quality water, free of mineral salts, which will lead us to discard the use of tap water, unless we have previously treated it with a reverse osmosis system. In this way, in addition to removing 100% of the mineral salts from the water we will also remove up to 99% of the chlorine.


Irrigation and humidity are two other key factors for proper maintenance (and survival) of our orchids. Starting from the base that not all orchid families have the same needs, we should try to find out beforehand to recreate them as much as possible in the location we choose.

Inadequate irrigation, such as excessive watering, can cause the orchids to kill, since their roots are very sensitive and tolerate the lack better than excess watering. In addition, since most of them come from tropical climates and grow on top of trees, without direct contact of the roots with the soil, they are used to extract water from the humidity of the surrounding environment.

If you want to dig deeper into the entire universe of orchids, you can visit this page where you will find much more information in a detailed and specific way according to gender, habitat and habits.

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