How to plant, grow and prune an orchid

View the video

How to plant grow and prune an orchid

View the video
×

The orchid is loved for its exotic flowers. Many people believe it must be difficult to grow, but appearances can be deceptive. Give your orchid basic care and it will prove you wrong!

What you need to know about an orchid

Name: orchid: Cymbidium, Paphiopedilum, Dendrobium, Cattleya, Epidendrum, etc.

Height: up to 50cm according to type

Foliage: various, depending on orchid type; from strappy to fleshy.

Climate: temperate to tropical; indoor or glasshouse plants in cold areas.

Soil: commercial orchid mix preferred; free draining.

Position: full sun to light shade; avoid direct sun through glass indoors.

Flowering: from single blooms per spike to long, multi-flowered stems depending on type; from white to deep crimson and brown.

Feeding: use a long-term controlled-release fertiliser; supplement with liquid food from spring to autumn.

Watering: keep moist but never wet; do not stand pots in saucers of water.

Appearance and characteristics of an orchid

Most temperate-zone orchids such as cymbidiums are terrestrial—that is, they grow with their roots in a pot or the ground. They’re easy to grow without needing a glasshouse or specialised knowledge. You can learn more about these orchids in our Different types of orchids” page.

How to plant and grow an orchid

A cool-climate orchid will grow well outside under the shade of a spreading tree or in a shade house, where it is protected from hot sun over summer. In winter, pots can be moved to a sunnier spot, but be sure to shelter them from cold winds. Your orchid will need good ambient light all year—it will not flower if it is grown in dense shade.

Follow these steps when planting your orchid:

  1. Choose a conventional-shaped terracotta or plastic pot with good drainage. A “snug” fit is best—that the pot should just comfortably hold the roots. Don’t put your plant into a large pot so it will have room to expand—it will “sulk”, and deprive you of flowers!

  2. Cymbidiums and other terrestrials grow well in a premium-quality orchid mix made from fine to medium pine bark chips (5–8mm), coarse washed river sand or perlite and coir fibre. The mix needs to hold the roots securely and retain enough water to keep the roots moist while allowing excess to drain freely.

  3. Make sure the bulb sits on top of the mix with just the roots covered, otherwise it may rot.

How to repot and divide orchids

When an orchid has outgrown its existing pot, it can be re-potted in mid-spring after it has finished flowering:

  1. Remove it from its existing container.

  2. Divide it up by separating the bulbs (these are properly called pseudo bulbs, because they are not a true bulb like an onion, for example).

  3. Remove old bulbs that have previously flowered and lost their leaves—they will not flower again, but they may produce a new shoot from the base if you pot them up.

Pot each of the younger bulbs individually  into small pots.

Caring for an orchid

Watering 
An orchid has fleshy roots that rot if they are too wet, so water your plant carefully. It's vitally important that excess water drains freely out of the base of the pot. During the warmer months, water your plant as often as necessary to ensure it never dries out. This could be once or twice a day during extremely hot or windy weather. Try to keep the air around the plant humid by misting or placing a bowl of water close to the plant. Whatever you do, don’t stand the pot in a saucer of water!
During cooler weather, reduce watering to once every 7–10 days, depending on the type of orchid and where it's positioned. 
Avoid wetting flowers—water droplets can mark petals, destroying the natural beauty of the blooms.

Fertilising
Premium orchid mixes contain enough fertiliser for up to six months from potting up. After that, apply a six-month controlled-release fertiliser in late winter and again in early autumn when flower spikes are forming.  
Give plants a boost every six weeks or so during spring and summer with a liquid or water-soluble fertiliser. 
A teaspoon or two of garden lime once a year in winter will keep the growing mix “sweet”' (not too acidic).

orchid plant

How and when to prune an orchid

Cymbidiums and similar terrestrial orchids usually flower in spring. Flowering pots can be moved to outdoor living areas so they can be admired, or you can cut spikes of blooms and take them indoors.
Once the flowers have dropped, cut any remaining spikes off plants cleanly using sharp secateurs.

Diseases and pests affecting an orchid

 A healthy orchid will be reasonably pest-free, but you might find the occasional aphid or mealy bug. Apply a pyrethrum-based insecticide to control them if required. Watch out for slugs and snails when flower spikes are developing—they will demolish a spike of buds overnight. The orchid is susceptible to a virus that can cause black spots or stripes on leaves. There is no treatment for this, so it is best to discard it to prevent spread to healthy plants.

If you like this then try

Phalaenopsis: Moth orchid has spikes of showy exotic flowers from pure white to multi-colours; popular indoor plant.

Maidenhair fern: delicate bright-green fronds on fine black stems, excellent contrast to bold orchids.

Peace lily (Spathiphyllum): hardy indoor plant with glossy green leaves and white flowers.

Start planting today

Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing!

How to build a garden bed 05:37

Planting & Growing How to build a garden bed Transform your outdoor area by learning how to build a garden bed. It’s easy to do, just follow our step-by-step guide.

variety of indoor plants

Planting & Growing Discover 12 plants that are the best for indoors Striking foliage and stunning colour isn’t just reserved for the garden. There’s a wide variety of indoor plants you can use to bring colour and life to your home explains Bunnings Greenlife buyer Katrina Gatt.

Person planting spinach 03:11

Planting & Growing How to grow vegetables Watch our step-by-step guide and find out everything you need to know about how to grow fresh vegetables in your garden.

Person trimming the hedge with battery shears 01:28

Planting & Growing How to trim hedges Hedges are an excellent way to add shape to your garden. Here are a couple of tips to effectively trim and maintain a hedge.

Person putting on protective edging on the raised garden bed 01:38

Planting & Growing How to build a raised garden bed Building a raised garden bed is a simple project you can do yourself. Learn how to build a raised garden bed with this guide from Bunnings Warehouse.

Person adding compost and manure to the soil 02:01

Planting & Growing How to improve sandy soil Good soil is the foundation for any healthy garden. We can show you how to improve sandy soil to retain more nutrients and water.

succulents 02:01

Planting & Growing How to plant and care for succulents Succulents come in a huge range of colours, shapes and sizes, will grow just about anywhere and don’t need much looking after, making them a plant that’s perfect for even the most novice gardener. If you’re new to succulents, here are some tips from...

Person cutting the corrugated edging 03:08

Planting & Growing How to install garden edging Garden edging can help to make your garden beds look neat and tidy. We’ll show you how to install plastic or corrugated garden edging around your garden.

hydrangea

Planting & Growing How to create an allergy-friendly garden If you suffer from hay fever or other allergies, then being out in the garden can, at times, be less than enjoyable. But there are some steps you can take to create an allergy-friendly garden so you can spend more time gardening and less time sneezi...

pot

Planters How to choose the right plant pot Pots are a great way to add colour, interest or texture to your outdoor space. Tuscan Path’s Elaine Foster shares her top tips on how to choose the perfect pot.

sunflower

Planting & Growing How to plant and care for sunflowers Sunflowers are a great way to add colour to your garden, and they’re easy to grow and care for. Bunnings Greenlife buyer Katie explains the basics of how to grow sunflowers and shares some tips on how to care for them.

orchid

Planting & Growing How to care for orchids Orchids are a low-maintenance flower that can be grown indoors or outside in a protected location. And, with a little care, they will provide you with lots of colour.

paint

Guides & Projects How to upcycle almost any piece of furniture with paint Rather than throwing out old household items, you can restore them with paint. It’s a quick, easy and affordable way to give anything from furniture to fences a new lease on life. Learn how to paint and prepare different surfaces to get the finish y...

DIY balcony and courtyard garden

Planters D.I.Y. balcony and courtyard garden Even if your outdoor space is limited to a balcony or courtyard, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on having a garden. The team at Tuscan Path, who have been supplying pots to the Australian marketplace for over 40 years, share some ideas on how ...

 kitchen benchtop materials

Benchtops & Cabinets A guide to kitchen benchtop materials The perfect benchtop will add style to any kitchen. It’ll also see the most action, so choosing the right benchtop for your kitchen – and budget – is an important decision explains Bunnings Kitchen Designer Ben Carey.

Top of the content