Orchids on windowsills perform best in east- or west-facing windows, where they receive some light in the morning or afternoon. If you place them in a south-facing window you may have to hang a screen or a curtain to scatter some light.
Some bestwindowsillorchids are moth orchids, Phalaenopsis hybrids which only need three hours of sunlight per day. Other good orchid plants for windowsills include Masdevallia and Restrain varieties.
Most orchids fail to bloom because of inadequate light or temperatures that are too consistent. Here's a quick way to test the light for growing orchids indoors: on a bright, clear summer day, hold your hand about six inches above your orchid to see if a shadow is cast on the leaves.
A faint shadow indicates that 'low' light orchids may be grown, while a strong, distinct shadow indicates there is enough sun to grow 'high' light orchids. Unobstructed southern exposures offer the most possibilities for growing orchids.
Eastern exposures will allow bloom of 'low' light orchids. Most orchids prefer to dry out a bit between watering, although there are some exceptions.
By using windowsills, you eliminate the need for constructing a sunroof, atrium or greenhouse and the associated costs for heating and/or ventilating. The normal household temperature range of 15-25 C (60-80 F) is ideal for many orchids.
By growing on windowsills, you are more likely to be ‘personal' with your plants, more easily spotting disease or insect outbreaks and being able to control them before they get out of hand. In greenhouses, the temperatures are more likely to fluctuate and keeping tabs on water requirements may be more hit-and-miss.
The indoor grower is more aware of their plants environment since they are sharing the same space! Alternatively, you can place shelving units in front of patio doors or particularly large windows.
Essentially, any space within 2-3 feet of a window, glass wall or door can be a potential growing area. You can even hang orchids from the ceiling as long as the plants themselves are next to the glass.
Humidity, along with temperature, is a very important aspect to the successful culturing of orchids. It is well worthwhile to invest in a combination hygrometer-thermometer to monitor both of these conditions in your growing area.
Place the orchids on top of egg crate or stiff wire mesh. Some orchids naturally require full sun, even in the tropics, to bloom well.
Indoors, it may be challenging to grow such orchids unless you have large, unobstructed, south-facing windows (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere). However, many orchids are quite happy with early morning or late afternoon sun such as from an east or west window.
For the novice grower, plastic pots are more forgiving than clay. Clay pots will dry faster and require more careful monitoring than plastic.
Mounted orchids, while the most naturalistic, are NOT suggested for the novice as they require very careful attention to watering. Until you become more comfortable around growing orchids, stick to plastic pots.
Don't worry if roots grow over the edge of the pots...that's a sign they are doing well! The most popular media is chopped fir or redwood bark.
I like to use a mix of fine to medium bark, charcoal, per lite and fresh sphagnum. The media should be free-draining, light and somewhat fluffy as orchids require excellent oxygenation at the roots.
This helps to prevent excess fertilizer salts from building up in the media. The temperature of your growing area will be main deciding factor, along with light levels, for which groups of orchids will do best for you.
I work as a research horticulturist at the Memorial University of Newfoundland Botanical Garden. When not in the garden, I'm out bird watching, a hobby that has gotten me to some lovely parts of the world.
Orchids vary in size, shape, fragrance, growing conditions, and almost every other category that you can imagine. Some orchids need special conditions to grow successfully: proper lighting, humidity, ventilation, pH of the water, and other variants.
When it comes to picking out orchids to grow indoors though, the list can narrow significantly. Phalaenopsis, Cattle ya, Paphiopedilum, Dendrobium, Rubidium, Tunisia, Miltoniopsis, Indium, Pairs, and Zygopetalums are the best orchids to grow indoors without many adaptations from the homeowner.
Let’s look at how to grow these indoors and what you’ll need to make these orchids thrive. Please note that this article is not a full guide to each orchid, just a revised version.
Phalaenopsis are by far the most sold indoor orchids on the market. These make perfect gifts for Mother’s Day, Valentines, birthdays, graduations, and other special occasions. To best accommodate a Phalaenopsis orchid in your living room, you’ll need to focus on two things: light and humidity.
Chose a window sill that sits in light location, but doesn’t get direct sun. So chose a window that is well-lit, but has no direct sunlight pouring through it during the afternoon hours.
Phalaenopsis love being in well-lit windows, where air flow is constant and its bright light illuminates the environment. As long as you take extra care and don’t pour boiling water in the sink where the fervent steam will scar the orchid leaves, then the kitchen window is perfect.
These fruit (others too, but these are the worst) will excrete a chemical gas called ethylene when they are near ripe. Phalaenopsis has a higher humidity preference than most indoor environments provide.
You can easily make a humidity tray, if you follow the instructions in this article. These are excellent orchids to attach to trees or place on mounts, since that is their most likely habitat.
Adapted to grow windy environments, Catalans will develop root rot quickly if there is no air circulation. You’ll need to keep a low fan on all the time. If you don’t want to use a fan, you can place your Cattle ya on the patio outside during spring to fall.
If you live in a hardiness zone of 10 to 12, you’re in the perfect spot for an outdoor Cattle ya. This is a double hit because Catalans prefer a lot more humidity than the Phalaenopsis do.
A humidity tray just won’t cut it, and with the fan on low during both day and night, you’ll need to provide a humidifier. By the way, I suggest these five humidifiers, all that are in a good price range, if you happen to go that route.
It can be the driest place in the house, then all of a sudden move to 100% humidity for ten minutes. Usually the humidity that is produces in the bathroom is from hot showers, and the temperature ranges are not the best.
Once you’ve managed humidity and air circulation, your Cattle ya will thrive indoors and make your living room all that much brighter. Everything you’ve learned about potting medium and orchid bark, sphagnum moss, and per lite can be ditched when it comes to Paphiopedilums.
Being terrestrial, these orchids act like other houseplants grown in soil. The main concern with Paphiopedilums is watering them enough, so they stay moist the entire time.
Image Credit: “ Dendrobium Nagasaki ” by kHz Flower Guide is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 In fact, just relate Dendrobiums to being greedy and wanting everything: all the sun, all the water, and all the fertilizer.
This is a little higher than the other orchids listed, so place the humidifier closer to the Dendrobium. I debated whether to place Cambiums on this list, since these orchids have a wonderful time outdoors.
From spring to fall, they will do well on a bright porch or patio, as along as they aren’t in direct sun for more than two or three hours. What you’ll want to check for in Cambiums is proper water drainage and humidity.
As long as water is constantly around these orchids, (roots always moist but not mushy) they’ll do well either indoors or outside. To maintain higher humidity in a drier climate, you’ll need to mist the leaves each morning and night, along with the proper watering schedule.
What I love about Tunisia (or jewel orchids) is that their leaves are fascinating. If you plant them in a terrarium, they keep the colorful vibe up all year round, even without the blossom.
For this reason, it’s hard to write a specific care guide since they are grown in almost every single type of habitat there is: Brazil, Peru, Andes, Columbia, Hawaii, Florida, and so on... What you’ll need to do is research the specific orchid species of the Indium you’re wanting to cultivate and take the care instructions from there.
Try working in your home office with chocolate scent circulating the room… Not fun.) These encomiums tolerate higher light than most orchids, except they don’t like the direct sunlight for too long.
As long as your window is extremely light and some sun does get through, your encomiums will love it. You’ll need two to three feet of space to properly store this orchid indoors.
They are terrestrial orchids, so you’ll need to follow the same mixture of potting media that your Paphiopedilum and Tunisia grow in. The Miltoniopsis Orchids (which look like little pansies) are grown naturally in the higher mountainous regions of the Andes, around Peru, Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador, where it rains almost every single day. They absolutely love water, and if you want to try your hand at a semi-hydroponic method, then this is your orchid.
To grow these indoors, you’ll have to be very strict about the water and cooler temperature. At 70%, you’re risking the wall paper to peel off and the paint to crumble with moisture.
To your normal fertilization process, you’ll need to add dolomite lime. If you need tips and suggestions for online orchid shopping, check out this article.
If you have already tired these 10, then it’s time to start expanding your collection to the next 10 orchids that are excellent for houseplants. These include: Brassavola, Dataset, Cyclones, Encyclical, Pudendum, Caste, Masdevalia, Phragmipediums Psychosis, and Wanda.