Orchid care - water, cut and repot properly


Opulent flowers only appear if you observe a few notes when caring for orchids. We explain what to consider when watering, fertilizing, repotting.

© dvoinik / Hardly any indoor gardener can resist the fascination of orchids (Orchidaceae). Caring for exotic plants is a bit of a challenge, so every plant lover should know the orchid's demands for light, warmth and moisture. It should be borne in mind that most orchid species grow on the trees in the tropical rainforests as epiphytes. In this guide, we have summarized the requirements that must be met so that the flower-loving exotic species also feel comfortable in indoor culture.


  • 1 The ideal location for orchids
  • 2 The ideal substrate for orchids
    • 2.1 Make your own orchid soil
  • 3 Which orchid pot?
  • Repot 4 orchids
    • 4.1 Repotting orchids - step by step
  • Water 5 orchids
  • Fertilize 6 orchids
  • Cut 7 orchids

The ideal location for orchids

In order to find the right location, the natural growth conditions must first be borne in mind. In their original homeland, orchids mostly grow in tree tops and are protected from intense sunlight by the foliage. In the tropics, the lighting conditions are relatively constant all year round. On the other hand, on our flower windows, the plant runs the risk of getting too much light in summer and suffering from a lack of light in winter.

Therefore: The location must be shielded somewhat in summer, and the window protection can be removed in winter. Additional artificial lighting is helpful in low-light times. The distance between the orchid and the window is also crucial. At a distance of one meter from the glass front, the amount of light has already halved.

Whether much or little light is preferred depends on the orchid variety.

sun-hungry orchids
+ Cattleya
+ Vanda
+ Dendrobiumshadow-loving orchids
+ Phalaenopsis
In any case, orchids need a lot of light. Most orchid species are less well looked after by the south window. The common types of orchids usually feel at home on a window facing west or east.

" Tip: The foliage of the orchids indicates whether the plants are satisfied with the lighting conditions. Dark green foliage indicates that a little more light is needed. A yellowish or reddish leaf color indicates that the stand is too bright.

Orchids cannot tolerate large temperature fluctuations or drafts.

The right location in brief:

  • bright
  • penumbra
  • high humidity
  • Avoid drafts
  • Avoid fluctuations in temperature

The ideal substrate for orchids

Conventional potting soil is not suitable for orchid cultivation. Most orchids cling to the bark of the trees with their roots in their home. The roots are always surrounded by air. The roots of most orchids die very quickly in a compacted substrate.

The ideal substrate must give the orchids a hold and at the same time allow enough air to the roots and provide moisture. The trade offers special soil for orchids. This is airy and coarse-grained. In most mixtures, bark and peat can be found as the main components. Peat can store moisture and is almost free of nutrients itself. Bark has a large surface and is stable in its structure.

1 Seramis clay granules for orchids, special substrate, ... No reviews at the moment9,95 €To the shop
" Note: For environmental reasons, peat is often replaced by coconut fibers.

Cork or styrofoam is often included to make the substrate more airy. Perlite stores nutrients and gradually releases them to the plant. Activated carbon can neutralize harmful metabolic products.

Make orchid soil yourself

  • five parts of pine bark
  • two parts sphagnum
  • a part of perlite
  • a part of nutshells
  • some pieces of wood

Orchids should preferably be cultivated in the same mixture of substrates. It is difficult to adapt to changing substrates. After about two years, the plant substance is used up and it has to be repotted. If this is neglected, there is a risk of over-fertilization, as fungi and bacteria die and release nutrients.

Which pot for orchids?

© maryviolet / Orchids are usually offered in tall and slim planters. These underline the growth form of the elegant plant. So that the practical aspect is also served, stages are usually incorporated in the vessel. This gives the plant support and excess water flows into the bottom of the container. This prevents waterlogging.

Transparent vessels made of glass or plastic are advantageous for photosynthesis of the orchid. This allows enough light to reach the roots. In contrast to conventional plants, the chlorophyll necessary for photosynthesis in the orchid is not in the leaves, but in the roots.

Orchids can also be grown in clay pots. These have a porous structure and can therefore store moisture better and help regulate the water balance of the plants.

Some orchid species, such as Cattleya, do not tolerate damp roots. So that the root ball is better aerated, the plants are cultivated in plastic baskets. Coryanthes, Stanhopea and other hanging growth forms are in good hands in a hanging basket.

Repot orchids

© New Africa / Become orchids preferred in spring repotted. When the first new shoots appear, it is time to move to a new planter.

Repotting orchids - step by step

  1. Remove the plant from the old pot
  2. Remove roots from the substrate
  3. Control roots
  4. Select planter
  5. Fill the plant pot in the lower half with substrate
  6. Insert the plant
  7. Fill in the substrate

The orchid is carefully removed from the old planter. It can be helpful to knead the plant pot a bit with your hands. Repotting gives the opportunity to remove dried up and rotten root sections.

" Tip: After repotting, the next day at the earliest. The plants are fertilized for the first time three weeks after changing the planter.

Water orchids

© aneriksson / The biggest enemy of the orchid is waterlogging. Most plants get along well if the root area is kept moderately moist to slightly dry. The substrate should never dry out completely.

It is preferred to pour with rainwater. If you cannot provide this, mix tap water with distilled water in a ratio of 2: 1.

Orchids are preferably watered in the morning. The immersion bath has proven itself when watering orchids. The plants are pressed with the root ball under water at weekly intervals until there are no more bubbles. After the immersion bath, the plants should drain well before putting them back in the planter. The water must not build up.

" Tip: When watering, no water should get to the plant itself. Only the roots are poured or dipped. Accumulated water could accumulate in the leaf axils and trigger rotting processes there.

Fertilize orchids

Special orchid fertilizers are available on the market. This is optimally matched to the nutrient requirements of the plants.

1 COMPO fertilizer sticks for orchids, 3 months… 29 reviews3,99 €To the shop

" Tip: You can also use conventional green plant fertilizer, but the concentration should then be reduced to about a quarter of the specified amount.

Orchids have a low nutritional requirement. Highly concentrated finished fertilizers quickly make the plants atrophy. It should be fertilized evenly. Orchids prefer constant environmental conditions, including the supply of nutrients. There is nothing to be said against a low amount of fertilizer each time it is watered.

Cut orchids

© agneskantaruk / Faded flower stems are removed regularly. Before cutting, however, these parts of the plant should be completely dry. Only then is it cut back. A stem approach with at least two eyes remains. With luck, the plant will sprout again.

When cutting the roots, they must first be sprayed with water. Aerial roots that no longer turn green are dead and can be removed. Living aerial roots are used to absorb nutrients and liquids and should only be shortened if the plant is noticeably overgrown.

A too strong formation of the air roots indicates a too low air humidity. This can be counteracted by spraying the substrate regularly with lukewarm water.

Cutting orchids in key words:

  • do not cut off any green parts of the plant
  • Make a cut after flowering
  • Carefully shorten dried air roots
  • Cut the dried stems back to the second eye

Sharp cutting tools should be used for the cut. Straight edges can be cut with a carpet knife or scalpel and the plant is not damaged. However, if the section is squeezed by blunt cutting tools, the wound heals poorly and fungi and bacteria can penetrate. The cutting tools must be disinfected before use.

»Therefore our note: Household scissors are not suitable for cutting orchids, they are usually too blunt.