Orchid Care – The Right Temperature

Orchid care all year round

Orchids have a different life cycle to most other indoor plants. They do not grow in garden soil or ordinary houseplant compost, but in a special orchid compost and require relatively few nutrients. If you manage the harmonious combination of the five elements of temperature, light, air, humidity and nutrients, you will be richly rewarded with plants that live long and produce enchanting flowers.


The growth cycle

As with all plants, the life of orchids is characterized by an alternating cycle of growth periods and rest periods. If you want your plants to produce flowers every year, you must become very familiar with this natural programme as the demands and needs of orchids differ depending on the particular phase they are in.

The rest phase: The rest phase corresponds to the tropical period of drought which, in turn, approximates to the winter period of temperate zones. Many orchids flower at the beginning of, during or shortly after this rest phase. If they are kept too moist during this phase, orchids will not produce flowers and will only form weak new shoots.

Orchid-Care-the-right-temperature General rule: Orchids with tough leaves and greatly reduced or almost absent bulbs should never be allowed to dry out completely.


The right temperature

In the wild, orchids grow in the most diverse climatic zones. Some flourish in continually moist, warm regions, others in regions that are warm and moist some of the time, others again in regions that are dry and hot in the daytime and moist and cool at night. Finally, there are those orchids that love moist, cool regions. The general rule for the care of orchids is to establish where they can be assigned in the rough division into the three temperature categories: cool, temperate or warm. It is very important to know the exact temperature requirements of individual orchids. Within one genus (for example, Dendrobium, you can find species belonging to each of the three different temperature ranges. For this reason, you should always enquire as to the correct name of a plant on purchasing. The result of a temperature drop at night: In the natural habitats of orchid species that like a lot of warmth, night-time temperatures are often around 7-12°C lower than the daytime values. This night-time temperature drop is necessary for the formation of flowers in many orchids and should be at least 46°C (39-43°F). Basically, the following rule applies: the warmer the temperature, the higher the humidity.


My tip:

If you want to grow several different orchids, remember to choose only those species that belong to one range of temperature for one position.


How to measure the temperature

In general, the kind of temperatures we feel comfortable with indoors during the summer and winter will also suit most orchids. A simple indoor thermometer is sufficient for checking the temperature. Better still is a mini-max thermometer which records the highest and lowest temperatures so that one can easily read the differences in temperature between day and night. No matter which thermometer you decide on, place it near your plants, as the temperature near a window may differ considerably from that in the centre of a room.


Temperature and position

The following unfavourable conditions for orchids should be avoided if possible:

  • direct sunlight; this will rapidly raise the temperature in spite of shade and humidity
  • plants placed too close to the window pane; this may lead to overheating of the leaves
  • cold stone window ledges; during the winter they may often be several degrees cooler than the average room temperature
  • draughts near a badly insulated window.


What to watch out for in winter

Perform the “candle test” if your orchids are to be left on a windowsill during the winter. Stand a lit candle on the windowsill. If the flame remains still and upright, the window is well insulated, but if it moves sideways or flickers, you should insulate the cracks around the window. In the case of cold stone window ledges, use an electric heating pad or at least a thick sheet of polystyrene for insulation underneath the plant pots or orchid container. Even orchids from cool regions will not cope with “cold feet”. In their countries of origin, the air may be cool and fresh but the soil always remains relatively warm.

Remember also that orchids that remain on a windowsill above a radiator during the winter will require additional moisture.

08. December 2010 by admin
Categories: House Plants, Orchids, Orchids, Plants | Tags: , | Comments Off on Orchid Care – The Right Temperature


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