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Many people think that orchids are very difficult to grow, and some species certainly require special skills. However, the majority of popular varieties are really no more difficult to grow than other house plants, such as African Violets.

As for any plant, the secret to successfully growing an orchid is to duplicate as far as possible the conditions under which it grows naturally. Some orchids grow on tree branches in the tropical jungle, some grow on rocks in the high mountains of South America. Some local orchids grow in the ground in Gatineau Park, and some grow in very wet conditions in Purdon Fen or Alfred Bog. Obviously each one requires very different conditions to thrive. Find out all you can about the natural habitat and try to offer a similar environment.

The three main variables involved are:

• Light intensity

• Watering

• Temperature


Other important points are:

• Fertilizer

• Potting medium

• Air circulation and humidity

Since orchids come from a wide variety of habitats, their cultural requirements will vary quite widely, and conditions which will allow one type to thrive may be fatal to another type. When you buy an orchid, find out from the vendor whether it needs bright sunlight or shade, does it like to be kept wet or allowed to dry out, how cool or warm to keep it, how often to fertilize, and so on. Always try to buy a plant which will thrive under the conditions you are able to provide, rather than buying something which will require you to set up special conditions.


We now have a number of articles on orchid growing, each offering details on specific topics. The articles cover the following topics:

Growing orchids on a windowsill

Getting ready for winter

Control of flowering

Taking care of your first orchid

Orchid Diseases Part I

Orchid Diseases Part II


Jean Hollebone and Marilyn Light have produced several documents to inform members what is required to bring orchids into Canada. Although these were originally written for the World Orchid Congress held in Florida in January 2008, they are of interest to anyone planning to import plants from the US or elsewhere.

More information...

Importing into Canada.