Orchid needs change with the seasons just like any other plant. While many orchids are dormant during the winter, they still need light, water, regular feedings and just the right temperatures. So, we've assembled some grow tips to help you care for your orchids during the colder, dryer winter months.
Many commonly grown orchids are from temperate, tropical regions, so it's important to keep a close eye on the temperatures. Most orchids prefer daytime temps between 70° and 90° F and nighttime temps between 55° and 75° F (similar to most people). For those of you that grow your orchids outdoors, you will need to relocate your plants indoors or to an insulated garage when the forecast calls for temperature drops below 55° F. Amateur greenhouse growers may want to consider investing in a space heater that is specifically designed for greenhouse use.
We recommend that you water your orchids less frequently during the winter season. Water your plants early in the morning after the sun has risen to allow excess moisture to evaporate during the day. Watering at night can increase the chances of fungal or bacterial infections which are more common during the winter. Additionally, you will want to allow your plants to dry out between waterings. The exception to this recommendation is when caring for Phalaenopsis and Paphiopedilum (Lady Slipper) orchids. These should be kept consistently moist even during the winter months.
Ensuring the right amount of light can be more difficult during the winter months with shorter days and less daylight. Orchids often need 12 to 14 hours of indirect light, depending on the variety. You may need to relocate your orchid throughout the day to follow the sunlight. Usually, a north- or east-facing window is best, but be sure the window has some type of covering like a sheer curtain to avoid direct sunlight on your plants.
For those of you that live in snowy locations, don't forget that sunlight can reflect off the snowy ground to cause even more sunlight through your windows. In addition to checking for cold drafts, check the amount of direct sunlight coming in through your windows throughout the day to avoid "sun-burning" your plants. Plants need plenty of light during the winter, you just want to make sure they don't burn.
If you live in a part of the country where the sun doesn’t rise until 8:00 a.m. and sets as early as 4:00 p.m. during the winter months, an indoor grow light can help you ensure that your orchids are receiving the proper amount of light.
Although your orchid may not be growing as quickly as it does during the spring and summer months, it is very important to keep feeding your plants during their dormancy. We recommend diluting your plant food, but don't omit feeding entirely.
For more on information on how to care for orchids, visit easyorchidgrowing.com.