Table of Contents
- 1 How Long Do Orchid Blooms Last?
- 2 How To Make Orchids Bloom Longer?
- 2.1 1. Select A Orchid From The Store With A Flower Spike
- 2.2 2. Temperature Control Encourages Orchids Bloom Longer
- 2.3 3. Proper Light Level To Encourage Longer Orchid Blooming
- 2.4 4. Proper Watering Encourages Orchids To Bloom For Months
- 2.5 5. Avoid Pollinating Insects To Increase Blooming Period
- 2.6 6. Maintain A Humid Environment To Keep Your Orchid Blooming
- 2.7 7. Keep Orchids Away from Air Fresheners And Ripe Fruit
- 2.8 8. Be Patient and Give Your Orchid Time To Bloom
- 3 Conclusion
- 4 References
Orchids are a very popular and much-beloved tropical flower grown by many cultures around the world.
The number one reason why people love orchids so much is because of their flower blooms.
Orchids tend to require a little more labor or at least forethought in their care than many simpler house flowers, but the blooms are so worth it.
Generally, orchid flowers will bloom for 2 to 4 months out of the year.
However, the condition of the plant and how it’s cared for will certainly play a factor in its flowering.
In addition, each orchid variety has its own distinct characteristics; for example, some orchid varieties can potentially bloom not once, but two times per year.
A few varieties can live for many years if taken care of. In fact, there are some orchid species that can live for more than a century!
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the biology of orchids, how they bloom, and how to encourage orchid blooms to last longer.
For other flowers to grow in your indoor or outdoor garden, see our related page:
How Long Do Orchid Blooms Last?
With proper care, on average, orchid blooms can last anywhere from 60 to 120 days.
However, the time can vary widely depending on the type of orchid.
Some of the most popular orchids, like the Phalaenopsis orchid, will bloom once, and if you are lucky twice times a year.
While Phalaenopsis is one of the more common varieties embraced by orchid enthusiasts, there are many other varieties worth considering.
Some are relatively easy to find, while others might be challenging for all but the most experienced and well-connected horticulturalists.
Orchid Blooming Times Differ with Each Variety
There are so many varieties of orchids that each has its own duration of blooming as well as other key characteristics that might influence how they are grown or otherwise cared for.
The following are some popular orchid varieties for first-time orchid growers and their typical blooming duration.
|Orchid Species||Blooming duration|
|Cattleya Orchids||7 to 21 days|
|Oncidium Orchids||6 to 8 weeks|
|Paphiopedilum Orchids||6 to 12 weeks|
|Phalaenopsis Orchids||2 to 6 months|
|Dendrobium Orchids||8 to 16 weeks|
Cattleya orchids are the typical orchid most people think of.
It’s an iconic orchid that produces large, fragrant flowers in vibrant colors. They are often found in corsages.
Cattleya orchids originated in the region spanning from modern-day Costa Rica to Argentina.
The Cattleya orchid is a common choice for beginners as well as experienced orchid enthusiasts.
The plants are known to be very sturdy and will tolerate infrequent watering as well as temperature changes.
There are also a miniature variety of Cattleyas available.
One minor downside of Cattleya orchids is that they only bloom for 7 to 21 days out of a single calendar year.
Many people who find early success with Cattleya will graduate to other varieties that tend to bloom for a longer period of time.
Oncidium orchids are a small sub-family of orchids that produce a large plant with many flower varieties.
One of the most popular Oncidium orchid varieties is called the “Dancing Lady”.
They tend to have thin leaves and pseudobulbs with impressive branching sprays of flowers in pleasing shades of yellow and mahogany.
Oncidium orchids tend to bloom for 4 to 6 weeks out of the year; which is longer than Cattleya, yet still not one of the longer blooming orchid varieties.
Paphiopedilums, commonly called Lady’s Slipper orchids, are native to the South and Far East Asian jungles.
They are semiterrestrial (meaning they live on land but require a very moist environment, usually near a body of water) and grow in humus (naturally occurring compost) and other organic matter on forest floors, cliffsides, and occasionally in trees.
They are relatively simple to grow indoors, under lights, and do very well in a warm, well-lit greenhouse.
These orchids produce substantial flowers that can last anywhere from one to three months or longer.
There are different blooming varieties, including multi-flowered, as well as sequential flowered, and single-flowered varieties.
Each has its own variation in sizes, shapes, and colors. These orchids tend to produce new blossoms for six to eight weeks out of the year.
Paphiopedilums do not take well to cloning, which makes mass production very difficult.
This also makes Paphiopedilum one of the more unique and cherished varieties of orchids amongst enthusiasts.
The Phalaenopsis orchid, known as a “Moth Orchid,” is the most common orchid because of its ease of cultivation and year-round blooming.
Phalaenopsis orchids are easy to grow indoors, and they bloom for an extended period of time.
A mature phalaenopsis will bloom for the majority of the year, with inflorescences that are densely packed with large blooms. In fact, the Moth orchid has some of the longest blooming flowers in the orchid genus.
Phalaenopsis orchid blooms can be pure white or unusually spotted with harlequins.
Some will even produce flowers that can last anywhere from 2 to as many as 6 months.
With proper care, some mature phalaenopsis can potentially bloom 2 to 3 times a year. On average, they tend to flower for roughly 8 to 16 weeks.
Dendrobium is the largest orchid genus, with almost 2,000 varieties.
These plants are native to Southeast Asia and thrive in a variety of climates, from hot weather to wet lowlands to high-altitude mountains.
A vast majority of dendrobiums are epiphytes (meaning they can grow on other plants or trees) and some are lithophytic (meaning they can grow in rocks, like the side of a mountain-side). In fact, they frequently grow on trees and cliff-sides in nature.
While the various Dendrobium species vary in appearance, they are famous for their pastel-hued colored blooms.
The time frame for flowering can vary throughout the dendrobium family. However, most mature plants will flower for between 6 and 12 weeks in a given year.
Some species bloom all the way down the length of their stems, while others bloom only at the tops.
Some are deciduous and lose their leaves in the fall, while others retain their leaves all year.
Depending on the species, once the flowers appear, they typically bloom for one and six weeks.
These orchids typically bloom throughout the year, with one or two larger and more spectacular flowers. For example, the Bulbophyllum phalaenopsis orchid has a very foul odor that serves the purpose of reproduction.
By mimicking the odor of maggots on decomposing flesh, the orchid attracts flies. The flies consume the bloom’s blood-red petals, then pollinate neighboring orchids.
Looking for more care tips on Bulbophyllum orchids, read further in our related post:
How To Make Orchids Bloom Longer?
There are several things you can do to encourage orchids to bloom multiple times in a given calendar year.
Each orchid variety has its own characteristics that you’ll have to know before attempting to make it bloom longer and more frequently.
So, while the specific species of orchid may make it difficult to get a particular variety to bloom beyond its normal range, there are still some things you can do to improve the chances of your orchid blooming for longer.
1. Select A Orchid From The Store With A Flower Spike
Ideally, you want to select an orchid plant that has a strong, healthy flower spike, as well as a few unopened buds.
The temptation when shopping for an orchid plant is to select the one that has the most spectacular flowers.
Unfortunately, this usually means that the plant is nearing the end of its flowering phase. In this scenario, you might have to wait another year to once again enjoy the bloom.
This is clear evidence that the flower spike itself is still growing and capable of producing new flowers for you to enjoy in the relatively near future.
2. Temperature Control Encourages Orchids Bloom Longer
Once you buy an orchid and bring it home for the first time, you want to maintain the orchid plant at a temperature of 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
You want to avoid any sudden temperature changes in your home, which could stress the plant.
Early on, it helps to keep the orchid plant a little cool. This helps to stimulate the process of creating flower buds. It also helps to slow the growth, further prolonging the potential flowering time of the chosen orchid variety.
You need to try to avoid causing any undue stress, such as exposing it to excessively hot or cold temperatures, especially when you first buy the orchid and transport it from the garden center back to your home.
Ideally, you would want to purchase your orchid plant and take it home immediately. Do not stop and run multiple errands, particularly on a hot or cold day.
If you typically turn the heat down at night in the colder months of the year, you might want to consider keeping the orchid in a room with an oil-filled radiator.
These devices have a built-in thermostat that measures the ambient temperature of the room. Any time the temperature starts to drop and the internal electric element turns on.
This heats a volume of specially formulated oil which then emits gentle heat into the room. Gradual heating in this way reduced the risk of sudden changes, while also allowing you to dial in the perfect range for your plant.
In this same vein of reasoning, you also want to keep your orchid somewhere that isn’t prone to hot or cold drafts.
Heat vents can cause shock to the sensitive orchid plant’s foliage. On the other end of the spectrum, cold air that rushes in or pools on a lower floor might also stress the plant.
Keeping it in a closed room with some type of thermal regulation like an oil-filled radiator will help to reduce these problems.
3. Proper Light Level To Encourage Longer Orchid Blooming
As tropical and subtropical plants, most orchid varieties thrive in indirect to bright light. However, bright light can at times increase the duration of the orchid’s blooming cycle.
Too little light during these times can result in decreased photosynthesis, which will then further impair the plant’s ability to produce the energy it needs to maintain the current blooms.
It can also prevent the next flower on the spike from properly developing.
It’s also worth noting that an excessive amount of direct sunlight can also lead to excessive drying and even potential scorching of the flowers as well as damage to leaves.
A plant in this condition could experience a rapid loss of any existing flowers. In an extreme case, it could even cause the death of the entire orchid plant!
4. Proper Watering Encourages Orchids To Bloom For Months
To encourage the orchid to focus on flowering, it’s best to lightly soak the orchid’s roots with water.
You can also water your orchids with ice cubes; ice cube watering is a viable alternative to properly watering your orchids.
However, ensure not to get any water on the leaves or the flowers. This means you do not want to mist your orchid. While they do enjoy above-average humidity, misting leaves excess moisture on the foliage and other parts of the plant.
Wet leaves and flowers give mold spores living in the air a chance to grow on the orchid. Misting orchid plants is by far the most common cause of fungal and plant diseases.
As a plant genus, orchids can be very sensitive to over and underwatering. Of these two, overwatering is the bigger problem.
When this happens, the plant is stressed, which in turn lengthens the bloom time. An orchid plant should always be potted in a well-drained medium.
The pot itself should have multiple drainage holes. An excessively over-watered orchid can suffer from root suffocation and potential death from root rot.
5. Avoid Pollinating Insects To Increase Blooming Period
It’s best to keep orchids indoors or in a screened area where bees and other pollinating insects can’t accidentally help them reproduce.
On a biological level, an orchid that has been pollinated has completed its life cycle. At that point, it no longer focuses on producing new flowers, and even the flowers it does have will wilt and drop off.
6. Maintain A Humid Environment To Keep Your Orchid Blooming
As tropical and subtropical plants orchids are used to higher than average humidity.
In very dry conditions the plant can wilt, causing it to drop it has bloomed, and may also damage tender foliage.
It’s best to keep your home, or at least the room the orchid lives in above 40% humidity.
If your home is dryer than this, or you struggle to maintain consistent humidity levels in your region, you might want to keep a humidifier in the room with the orchid.
This further allows you to dial in the humidity without wild swings that might stress the plant. At the same time, humid air is better at retaining heat energy, which will help prevent temperature swings.
7. Keep Orchids Away from Air Fresheners And Ripe Fruit
Keeping your orchids near ripening fruit or air fresheners that produce ethylene gas can have a negative impact on the health of your orchid.
It can even cause the orchid blooms to wilt, drop off, or die prematurely.
It’s best to keep your orchid plant away from ripe fruits like bananas, apples, and even tomatoes.
Also, make sure to double-check the label on your air fresheners for ethylene components.
8. Be Patient and Give Your Orchid Time To Bloom
Make sure to give your orchid plants time to rebuild their energy and go through their natural processes after blooming.
Also, bear in mind that an orchid needs to be fully mature to bloom, and the older the plant is, the more established its root base, the more likely it is to bloom again in the future.
Some orchids can bloom for several months at a time. A few varieties, like Phalaenopsis, can potentially bloom two to three times in a single year for several years to come.
Don’t simply assume that because it’s done blooming that the plant is dead, or won’t bloom again. In truth, it might simply be going into a semi-dormant state.
Many orchids are capable of living for years, decades, or perhaps even a century. Keep taking care of it properly, and one day you might be able to hand your orchid plant down to your child for them to enjoy.
Once you celebrate your first successful orchid bloom, you might just find yourself searching the internet and local garden centers for more orchids to brighten your home.
Yes, orchids do require a little more care and effort than your average house plant.
They are truly exotic and a little special care will make all the difference between enjoying years of beautiful blooms and a frustrating gardening experience.
Early on it might feel like a lot of effort. Yet as time goes on, you will likely find it gets easier and easier.
Keeping tabs in a notebook can also help you find the watering schedule and special care needs that maximize your orchid’s blooming year after year.
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she studied at the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. She continued her gardening education by working on organic farms in both rural and urban settings. She started UrbanOrganicYield.com to share gardening tips and tactics. She’s happy to talk about succulents and houseplants or vegetables and herbs – or just about anything in a backyard garden or hydroponics garden.