Orchid Lifespan: The Secret to a Long Life for Your Orchids

Orchids are the most delightful plants that many people believe are difficult to grow. However, if you give them the right conditions, these gorgeous flowering plants are not all that difficult and will give you years of enjoyment. So, how long do orchids live?

In their native habitat, orchids will generally live for around 20 years. Although this is not the norm for potted orchids that are grown indoors at home, these can still live for around 10 to 15 if you give them the right environment to thrive in.

It’s also quite important to know what type of orchid you have because the different species can have slightly different requirements. Let’s look at a few of these to better understand their needs and their lifespan.

How Long Do Orchids Live

Dendrobium Orchids

Dendrobium orchids like a relatively warm environment with temperatures around 68 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 29 degrees Celsius). With good care, these species can live for around 10 to 15 years.

Dendrobium orchids are a lot like succulents in that they like their soil to dry out before they’re given more water. They should also be grown in a special orchid mix that contains a fair bit of bark. This gives the plants excellent drainage, which will certainly help to prolong their life.

These orchid species like a fairly bright spot indoors where they’ll receive morning sunshine but shade in the afternoon. They will produce their gorgeous blooms from late winter to early summer.

Once the flowers have finished, dendrobium orchids will enter a growth stage until around early fall. After this, the plants will go dormant over the winter months until they reawaken again in spring.

Phalaenopsis Orchids

Phalaenopsis orchids are one of the more popular species, and many people will purchase these while they are in full bloom. Then, mistakenly, they’ll dispose of them once they’ve finished flowering and buy new plants the following year.

However, if well looked after, these gorgeous plants can live for around 10 to 15 years and provide you with spectacular blooms year after year. These orchids prefer a bright spot in your home with indirect sunlight and a fairly even temperature.

This species likes a little more water than Dendrobium orchids. In fact, in the summertime, you might need to water every few days, while in winter, when the plants are dormant, you can reduce this to once every ten days or so.

Phalaenopsis orchids also love a fairly humid environment. Therefore, you might have to provide them with a little extra humidity if the air inside your home is fairly dry. The easiest way to do this is with a humidifier.

Another thing that you can do is fill a shallow tray with pebbles or small stones. Then add some water so that the level comes halfway up the level of the stones. Place your orchid on top of the pebbles. As the water evaporates, it will provide extra humidity around your plants, but the pebbles will keep the roots of the plants out of the water.

This species of orchid will start blooming in late winter or even early spring. The good news is that the blooms last for quite a long time. This flowering usually stops in summer.

Brassavola Orchids

Brassavola orchids are generally smaller than other species, but their blooms have the most amazing fragrance. It is also quite common for this species to bloom a number of times each year.

With the right care and environment, these orchids can live for several years. These plants prefer a bright spot indoors filled with indirect light. They also prefer a fairly warm environment with temperatures around 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 27 degrees Celsius). The temperature shouldn’t drop more than 10 degrees at night to keep these plants happy.

Like Phalaenopsis orchids, this species should be watered every few days in summer when they’re actively growing. This watering schedule can be reduced during winter as the plants become dormant.

You might even find these orchids available mounted on boards, much like Bird’s nest ferns. This is because they naturally grow on trees or in between rocks in their native habitat. However, it’s perfectly fine to grow this species in a good quality orchid mix that contains plenty of bark and is free-draining.

It’s also important to ensure that this species gets sufficient nutrients since it may flower several times a year. Look for a fertilizer that is specifically formulated for orchids.

How Long Will Orchids Bloom When Grown Indoors?

How long orchids will bloom indoors depends entirely on the species and variety that you’re growing. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that there are around 30,000 different species of orchids in the world.

In saying that, most orchid species will produce blooms that will last anywhere from 6 to 10 weeks. That’s quite incredible when you compare it to many other flowering plants.

Additionally, while many orchid species will only bloom once a year, there are some that may bloom several times in the same year when given the right conditions.

Is It Necessary To Remove Spent Blooms From Orchids?

For most orchid species, removing the spent blooms is just done to make the plants more visually pleasing. However, with some species, removing the spent blooms will encourage the plants to produce another set of blooms in the same season.

Tips For Ensuring That Your Orchids Have A Long Life

Now that you know that many orchid species can live for around 10 to 15 years, you want to ensure that you give them the absolute best care so that they will delight you with their stunning blooms year after year.

Here are some top tips for caring for your orchids.

Avoid Overwatering

It’s not good for orchid roots to sit in water for an extended period of time. That’s why it’s vitally important to have a growing mix that is free-draining. Waterlogging causes the roots to suffocate because there are no air pockets left in the soil, as these have been filled with water.

Like most living plants, orchid roots need water, air, and nutrients to support a healthy growing plant.

If you have an orchid plant that may have been overwatered, there are some things that you can do that will possibly save the plant.

  • Remove the orchid from the mix and remove as much soggy soil from around the roots as possible.
  • Look closely at the roots and snip off any that are dark and soft, as these have started to rot.
  • If the plant still has a number of green or white roots, put it into a pot filled with the new free-draining mix.
  • Don’t water the plant for around a week or so to allow the roots to dry out a little, and hopefully, your plant will recover.

Give Your Orchids Plenty Of Light

Orchids grown indoors prefer bright indirect light. A window that gets morning sun and afternoon shade is absolutely ideal. If the orchid leaves are bright olive green, then your plants are getting the correct amount of light.

However, if the leaves are a much darker green, then the plant is not getting enough light, and you should move it closer to a window. Similarly, if the leaves are tinged with red, then the plant is getting too much light. In this case, you want to move it further from the window or protect it with a sheer curtain.

Keep The Temperature Fairly Even

As a general rule, orchids really don’t like wide fluctuations in temperature. Most species prefer daytime temperatures around 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 degrees Celsius) and nighttime temperatures of about 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius).

Make Sure Your Orchids Get Enough Humidity

It’s no secret that orchids love a warm and humid environment. Therefore, if you want your orchids to live for a long time, you have to ensure that they are getting enough humidity.

Many successful orchid enthusiasts find that the bathroom provides the perfect growing environment for orchids. This is because the steam from the shower will keep the air nice and moist. Of course, you have to ensure that your bathroom is nice and bright too.

If your bathroom is too dark to support a happy, healthy orchid, you might consider keeping the plant in the kitchen instead. Because of all the cooking and washing up, kitchens usually provide a more humid environment than other areas of the home.

One thing that you should avoid, however, is misting your plant while it’s blooming. This will encourage fungal growth, especially as there is usually not enough airflow around your home. Therefore, don’t make the mistake of misting your orchid with water while it’s flowering.

Divide Up Your Orchids As They Outgrow Their Pots

Many different orchid species, such as Dendrobium, Cattleya, Cymbidium, and Oncidium, should be divided every few years as they produce new stems from the base of the plant.

If you’re growing one of these species, you’ll notice that after a few years, your plant looks like it’s almost growing out of its pot. This is the perfect time to divide up your plant into several new ones that you can then pot up individually.

The best time to divide up your orchids is just after the flowers have finished, and the process is really simple.

  • Take the orchid out of its pot and shake off all the mix around the roots.
  • Using a sharp knife, divide the plant up into two, three, or four sections, making sure that each section has plenty of healthy roots attached.
  • Plant each piece into its own pot that has been filled with the free-draining orchid mix. Make sure that the bulbs are sitting right at the top of the pot and not buried deep down in the mix.

This is the perfect way to rejuvenate your orchids, and you’ve gained a few extra plants in the process.

How To Encourage A Second Blooming

For some species of orchids like Phalaenopsis, you can encourage the plant to produce another set of blooms by doing the following.

When the flowers are spent, cut the stem below the lowest bloom just above a node. This can be seen as a swelling or bump on the stem. Quite often, you’ll be rewarded with a second lot of flowers within around 8 to 12 weeks.

Remember To Feed Your Orchids Weekly During The Warmer Months

Orchids need plenty of nutrients during their active growing season in the warmer months of the year. Use a balanced liquid fertilizer for this as part of your watering schedule.

Make sure that you also water the plant at least once a month with clean water only. This will help to wash any excess salts out of the soil.

Keep The Crown Dry When Watering

It’s important when watering to keep the crown of the plant completely dry. This is the bulb part that sits above the soil at the top of the pot. This part is prone to rot if it is always damp.

To water your orchid, it’s best to use a small watering can with a long narrow spout. This allows you to direct the water to the soil around the plant and helps to keep the crown dry. If you accidentally get some water on the crown, just blot it up with a piece of paper towel.

You also want to ensure that your orchid is never allowed to sit in a saucer of water. After you’ve watered and the excess has drained out, just empty the saucer so the roots aren’t left to sit in water for extended periods of time.

Keep Your Orchid Away From Ripening Fruit

If the perfect place for your orchid is in the kitchen, make sure that you keep the plant away from ripening fruit. This is because fruit will give off a gas called ethylene while it’s ripening.

This gas will essentially speed up the life cycle of your orchid, and you’ll find that the flowers won’t last as long as they should.

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