Meleah MaynardEven crappy orchids grow in bathrooms

Okay, this is absolutely anecdotal and unscientific, but I’m going to go ahead and say that I think orchids love bathrooms. It must be the humidity from the shower because I’ve grown orchids for years, and they’ve never looked as lush and beautiful as they have since I moved them all to a shelf in the bathroom. Orchids are on my mind right now because it’s the time of year when they are putting out new growth that will soon be blooming and, so far, my fertilizing regimen seems to have paid off.

My orchids didn’t get the best start in life, so it’s no wonder they’ve struggled over the years. Purchased on sale at the grocery store, found abandoned on curbs and plucked from end-of-the-season tables at big-box stores, these orchids are not the Best In Show sort. But, having brought them home, I’ve felt duty-bound to try to do the best by them that I can.

Moth orchid – Phalaenopsis (Photo Matt Popplewell)

Though they look delicate and elegant to the point of being unreal, it’s honestly not that hard to grow orchids if you pick the right ones and follow a few simple tips. Phalaenopsis, or the moth orchid, are probably the easiest ones to grow. And now that orchids are sold everywhere, it seems, you can find them really easily. When you get home, put your moth orchid in a sunny east, west or shaded south window (perhaps in the bathroom?) out of direct sunlight. Cattleya and Dendrobium orchids are also easy to grow, so check out your plant tags before you buy.

Water when the mix is nearly dry, usually every four to seven days. Fertilizer is the key to getting orchids to rebloom, so be sure to fertilize every week when your orchids are starting to put out new growth as they head into the growing season. Back off to once every other week or even once a month after they’re finished blooming and are ready for a rest. Orchids bloom and rest, bloom and rest, so don’t be alarmed when those beautiful store-bought blooms fade away. Just cut off the spent stalk and keep watering and fertilizing.

You’ll find plenty of orchid fertilizers out there, but any houseplant fertilizer will do. When you feed your orchids, dilute the amount of fertilizer you use to a quarter of what the label recommends. You can always beef up your mixture a bit if you don’t get the growth you should.

Orchids do best in environments with reasonable humidity. So if it’s dry in your house, group your orchid pots on top of a tray filled with pebbles. Keep the water level low enough that the potting mix doesn’t get wet. Or, that’s right, grow them in the bathroom!

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Meleah Maynard

About Meleah Maynard

My name is Meleah Maynard and I garden in crazy-ass cold, zone 4 Minneapolis, Minnesota. My first book, co-authored with Jeff Gillman, Decoding Gardening Advice: The Science Behind the 100 Most Common Recommendations, was recently published by Timber Press. I don't have a hort degree. I'm a longtime journalist and master gardener who loves asking people questions, doing research and learning something new every day. I hope you like my blog here on GardenDrum and you read my full blog at Everyday Gardener

7 thoughts on “Even crappy orchids grow in bathrooms

  1. Loved your Crappy Orchids for the Bathroom feature Meleah …. soooo informative and jargon-free … refreshing even for long time plant slave garden designers like me.
    Do another, you’re gooooood :)))

    • Meleah Maynard on said:

      Hi Peter,
      Thank you so much for your kind comment! I’m not big on jargon, and people sometimes get on me for that. So I really appreciate that you’re not big on it either. 🙂 m

  2. Mary Gray on said:

    Thanks, Meleah. It sounds like I have the perfect bathroom to attempt an orchid. Never tried one before but your post has left me feeling very bold!

    • Meleah Maynard on said:

      Hi Mary,
      I just love your blog! And, seriously, if my trailer trash orchids are doing well, anybody can grow orchids. Magazines make it sound much tougher than it really is. Give it a try. – m

  3. Peter Goslett on said:

    That’s a truly great idea! Now all I have to do is be successul in getting all my wifes’ jars and bottles off the shelves in the bathroom! LOL

  4. Meleah, love your post re orchids. I adore the phalaenopsis and have a white inside, presently in flower, which I have posted about on my blog http://gardengrapevine.wordpress.com/ and a pink one of these also, outside on a tree, which looks dead for all the world, then springs to glorious life around July/August here in Queensland Australia ( mid winter).

    The yang of this is that I have a dendrobium ( dancing lady) orchid that a friend gave me eight years ago which I have nurtured and split and spread to three different locations, and it has NEVER FLOWERED!
    Fickle creatures, they are.
    The crucifix orchids in pink, red and mauve are also popular here and v hardy and long flowering ….
    I think peeps believe orchids must be fragile and difficult because they look so delicate …. but they are like Imelda Marcos, deceptively strong and wear a velvet glove.
    JUlie

  5. AN update to my previous comment re the dendrobium orchids which have been on my tree for eight years and have never flowered. There is a FLOWER STALK APPEARING! A trail of delicate little yellow blooms with speckled brown throat is spilling forth. Hooray. All things come to he who waits. V excited.
    Julie

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