With well over 20,000 species found in a wide range of habitats, orchids exhibit a huge diversity of form. Learn how they can flourish in your garden.

Where to grow an orchid

The majority of orchids are found in tropical regions. Orchids from temperate regions are often cultivated in the garden or a cool greenhouse, but tropical types are the best for use as houseplants. Most of the species described here will grow to 30 to 40cm in height and spread; some cymbidium cultivars, however, may reach 1m.

Taking care of an orchid

Being such a diverse group of plants, the requirements for individuals will vary. There are, though, a few basic steps to follow:

  • Keep out of direct light and cold draughts.
     
  • Grow in a free-draining, bark-based orchid compost. This might be a mix of medium-coarse bark.
     
  • Do not drown the orchid. Allow compost to dry out between thorough soakings, using rainwater or cooled boiled water. Water cymbidiums, oncidiums, dendrobiums and miltoniopsis sparingly during winter, when plant growth is reduced.
     
  • Apply an orchid fertiliser or a quarter-strength houseplant fertilizer at every third or fourth watering during the growing season.

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