Orchid  FAQs

SINCE ITS FOUNDING IN 1921, the American Orchid Society (AOS) has been the go-to resource for orchid growers in the U.S. and beyond. Some members are hobbyists who enjoy growing orchids and want to learn more about them. Others enjoy the thrill of exhibiting their orchids in shows; while others aspire to become orchid judges.

Perhaps one of the greatest joys for AOS is to help the beginner orchid grower learn more about this gorgeous flowering plant. Below are many of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) AOS staff members have answered. To read more detailed answers, go the the AOS website.

It's our hope here at Tropics Lifestyle that this informational resource may encourage you to start or continue your own orchid journey of plant love!


Are orchids hard to grow?

No. They are no more difficult to grow than many popular flowering plants. Like any plant, an orchid needs water, fertilizer, light and air. If you grow other ornamental plants either in the garden or indoors, you can grow orchids.

Aren't orchids terribly expensive?

Not any more. Once a hobby for the wealthy, orchids are now within the reach of any income. Modern reproductive methods make it possible for growers to enjoy plants for a reasonable price. You can spend as little as you like.

But trying to own one orchid is like trying to eat one peanut.

Are all orchids the same?
Quite the contrary. No plant family is more diverse.

After all, the orchid family is the largest plant family, occupying almost all possible environments. From the thimble-sized Mystacidium caffrum to the 20-foot-tall Renanthera storei, orchids exhibit amazingly different shapes, forms and growth habits.

T Trying to own one orchid is like trying to eat one peanut

Some orchids produce blossoms no larger than a mosquito; other orchid flowers are as large as a dinner plate. Your familiar corsage is just one of the thousands of attractive types that can be grown with ease, given the proper culture.

And with today's propagation methods and current hybridizing trends, there are more choices to choose from than ever before.orem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt.
Photo by Mariola / Pexels
Are orchids parasites?
Absolutely not! Of the approximately 20,000 species of orchids that grow around the world, not one is parasitic.

In nature, many orchids cling to trees and bushes as a growth habit, but they take nothing from the host plant and do not injure it in any way. Orchids that grow on trees are called epiphytes or air plants.

Do orchids come from the tropics?
Some do. But every country in the world and every state in the United States, including Alaska, have orchids.


Are orchids short-lived?
Most are long-lived. In fact, some species are virtually immortal, given the proper attention.

Divisions or propagations of orchids discovered in the 19th century are still growing and flowering today.

Top photo by Katarzyna Modrzejewska / Pexels. Bottom photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh / Pexels. 

How long do orchid blooms last?

It depends on the type as well as on cultural treatment. Blooms of hybrids of the genus Cattleya may last from one to four weeks on the plant. Those of the genus Phalaenopsis commonly last from one to four months.

How often do orchids bloom?
Again, it depends on the plant. Some bloom once a year, others bloom several times a year and some even bloom continuously.

Are orchids fragrant?
Some are so powerfully scented as to perfume an entire greenhouse or living room. A few orchid fragrances defy description, while others mimic familiar aromas -- raspberry, coconut, lilacs and citrus.

Others have no scent, but rely on shape and color to attract insects or birds for pollination, thereby continuing the life cycle of the species.Photo by
Can I transport orchids?
Yes. Because many of them are cultivated in pots or baskets, they can be carried anywhere.

Many growers use blooming plants as living centerpieces in their homes. Orchids are routinely mailed and sold at shows. But use common sense. When you buy orchids, do not let them sit in a hot or cold car or damage may result.

Photo by Madison Inouye / Pexels. Click side arrow right: photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh / Pexels.
Photo by Benhur Emmanuel / Pexels.
Photo by Benhur Emmanuel / Pexels.
How do I water my orchid?
Avoid overwatering which leads to the demise of many more orchids than underwatering. Constant wetness will cause the roots to rot, which leaves the plant without a means for taking up nourishment which then causes the leaves to droop and will eventually kill the plant. 

How do I feed my orchid?
Orchids need to be fed regularly. Growers suggest using a "balanced" fertilizer such as 20-20-20 that includes all "necessary trace elements." 

When should I repot?
Orchid plants need repotting for one or a combination of two main factors: Potting mix breaks down, often evidenced by dead roots, or the plant outgrowing the container. 

What is the best potting media?
A fresh, fast-draining, but water-retentive medium is essential to the healthy root system necessary for good growth

Photo by Duané Viljoenpsum / Pexels.
Where can I buy orchids?
Hundreds of orchid nurseries, many of which advertise monthly in Orchids magazine, exist in the United States and around the world. Visit the Orchid Source Directory, available at, to find one near you or in an area that you plan to visit.

Additionally, many fine growers will ship orchids right to your door! Today orchids are found in the "big box" stores and perhaps even in your local supermarket.

Is orchid conservation an important issue?
Absolutely! Sadly, orchid species are becoming extinct faster than they can be described and classified. Threats to orchids originate primarily from loss of habitat and collecting.

The AOS advocates the purchase of only artificially propagated orchids, either from meristems (clones) or seeds, which will help discourage the collecting of orchid species at home and abroad.

The AOS also encourages orchidists to pollinate orchid species already in their collections and to share the seedlings with their fellow orchidists.

For more information about this serious topic, and to learn how to get involved and to support conservation efforts, visit the conservation pages of the American Orchid Society website.

The American Orchid Society (AOS) exists to promote the appreciation of orchids by providing the most up-to-date, accurate, educational information about orchid culture, and sponsoring research and conservation initiatives to improve the outlook for orchids around the globe. This 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization has its headquarters located on the grounds of the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. To join go to New Member sign-up page.
(Left) Photo by Katie Johnstone / Pexels. (Click side arrow right) Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh / Pexels.