Orchids are a very popular and much-beloved tropical flower grown by many cultures around the world. Though they also tend to require a little more labor or at least forethought in their care than many simpler domestic flowers.
Do many first-time orchid gardeners wonder just how often do orchids bloom? In general, most orchids 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 the flowering performance. There are also different types of orchid in the world. Each has its own distinct characteristics Some of them canpotentially rebloom one to two times per year.
A few can possibly live for many years. There are even some records of an orchid plant living 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 last longer.
We will also look at some of the more intriguing varieties and how often and how long do they bloom.
How Long Do Orchid Blooms Last?
The answer to this question can vary widely depending on the type of orchid. Some of the most popular orchids, like Phalaenopsis will bloom one, possibly two times her year. With proper care these blooming phases can last between 60 to 120 days.
While Phalaenopsis are 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.
Different Orchid Varieties and How long Do they Bloom?
The truth is, the world is full of orchid varieties, each has its own typical 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 options for first-time orchid growers and their typical blooming duration.
7 to 21 days
6 to 8 weeks
6 to 12 weeks
2 to 6 months
8 to 16 weeks
Cattleya originatedina region spanning from modern-day Costa Rica to Argentina. This the typical orchid most people think of. It’s an icon thatproduces large and fragrant flowers in vibrant colors. They are often found in corsages
The Cattleya Orchid is are a common choice for beginners as well as experienced orchid enthusiasts.
The plants are known to be very sturdy and will tolerate some infrequent watering as well as temperature changes. There are also miniature Cattleyas available in a limited marketplace.
One minor downside of this orchid is that it only blooms for 7 to 21 days out of a single calendar year.
Many people who find early success with Cattleya will graduate up to other varieties which tend to bloom for a longer window of time.
This is a small sub-family of orchid whichproduces a large plant with many flower varieties. One of the most popular is a variety referred to as "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 a year. Which is longer than Cattleya, yet still not one of the longer blooming orchid varieties.
This type of orchid originated in Southeast Asian. The plants produce substantial flowers that can last anywhere from one to as much as three months.
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.
Sometimes referred to as “The Moth Orchid," phalaenopsis have some of the longest blooming flowers in the orchid genus. Some will even produce flowers that can last anywhere from 2 to as much as 6 months.
With proper care, some mature phalaenopsis can potentially bloom 2 to 3 times in a year. On average they tend to flower for roughly 8 to 16 weeks.
This is a genus of orchid that is well known for producing epiphytic as well aslithophytic orchids. This very large genus originated in South East Asia.
Yet it has more than 1,800 currently known species that are found throughout a diverse range of habitats and conditions around the world.
The time frame for flowering can vary throughout the dendrobium family. However, most mature plants will flower between 6 to 12 weeks in a given year.
How to make Orchid blooms last longer?
Each orchid variety has its own characteristics that have been ingrained into it over the course of centuries if not thousands of years.
While this makes it difficult to get a particular variety to bloom far beyond its normal range, there are still some things you can do to improve the chances of your orchid blooming for longer.
In the case, of multi-blooming varieties like Phalaenopsis, there are further things you can do to encourage them to bloom two possibly three times in a given calendar year.
1: Select A Orchid from the Store with a flower spike
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.
Ideally, you want to select an orchid plant that has a strong, healthy flower spike, as well as a few unopened buds.
This is clear evidence that the flower spike itself is still growing as well as capable of producing new flowers for you to enjoy in the relatively near future.
2: Temperature Control Encourages Orchids Bloom Longer
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 while further prolonging the potential flowering time of the chosen orchid variety.
After purchasing your orchid plant, you will need to transport it home. If this is a long journey, you need to try to avoid causing any undue stress such as exposing it to excessively hot or cold temperatures.
Ideally, you want to purchase your orchid plant and take it home immediately. This isn’t the time to stop off and run multiple errands on a, particularly hot or cold day.
Once you get it home, you want to maintain the orchid plant at a temperature of 64 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. You want to avoid any sudden temperature changes in your home which could also stress out the plant.
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 internal electric element turns on.
This heats a volume of specially formulated oil which then emits a 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 in 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: Set The Appropriate Light Level To Encourage Longer Orchid Blooming Times
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 and an excessive amount of direct sunlight can also lead to excessive drying and even potential scorching of the flowers as well as damage 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: Thoughtful Watering Encourages Orchids To Bloom For Months
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 the length of bloom time. An orchid plant should always be potted up 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.
It’s best to lightly soak the roots with water while taking care not to get any moisture on the leaves or the flowers. This encourages the orchid to focus on the flowers and concentrate on blooming.
You also should avoid “Misting” your orchid. While they do enjoy above-average humidity, mist leaves excess moisture on foliage and other parts of the plant.
These are ideal conditions for the natural mold spores living in the air to colonize. Ultimately, a misted plant is far more likely to suffer from fungal diseases and other health complications.
5: Avoid Pollinating Insects to Increase Bloom Period
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.
It’s best to keep orchids indoors or in a screened area where bees and other pollinating insects can’t accidentally help it reproduce.
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 which might stress the plant. At the same time, humid air is better at retaining heat energy, which will help prevent temperature swings.
7: Avoid Harsh Air Fresheners And Ethylene Gas From Ripe Fruit to Prevent Premature Orchid Bloom Drop
Ripening fruit and some air fresheners produce ethylene gas which can have a profound negative impact on the health of your orchid.
It can even cause the 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: Give Your Orchid Plant Time To Rebloom
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 a year for several years to come.
Make sure to give your 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.
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 years, decades and 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.
Yes, Orchids do take 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 performance year after year.
Once you celebrate your fist successful bloom you might just find yourself searching the internet and local garden centers for more orchids to brighten your home.
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she attended University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture. She has supplemented her formal education by working on various organic farms, including spending a semester abroad in India.
Growing and/or raising just about anything gets her excited. She is especially passionate about environmental justice and low-tech, sustainable ways to better run small-scale farms and homesteads. Lindsey started Urban Organic Yield to discuss gardening tips and tactics.
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