How to Care for Orchid Plants in Winter

What You'll Need
Grow lights (if required)
Water container

Orchid plants are as beautiful as they are delicate and require special care to last the winter months especially in colder climates. From special light considerations, to the correct level of temperature, appropriate watering and fertilizing, orchids require constant care.

Step 1: Light

The various varieties of orchids, including Oncidium, Dendrobium, Epidendrum and Cattleya require anywhere from 12 to 14 hours of moderate to high intensity light during an average day. The winter months are characterized by short days, so the natural light supply to orchids gets affected. To compensate, they require a supplementary source of artificial light to grow. In addition, you could move the indoor plants to an area of the home that gets more light, and supplement its light requirement by hanging grow lights either from a beam in the ceiling or hung in lamps.

Step 2: Water

Orchids require less water in the winter, so if earlier you were watering them twice a week, you would need to cut it down to once in the winter. If, however, your home is less humid, you may need to increase the water supply to more than one time a week. Orchids thrive between 40-80% humidity, and most homes are equipped with a 40-50% level. You can measure the humidity level in your home with a thermometer, and if it falls short of the requirement, you can consider investing in humidity trays.

Step 3: Temperature

Most orchid plants require a temperature between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit to grow. Outdoor plants typically need to be transported indoors in the winter months to provide them the optimal temperature conditions. In addition, the placement of the orchid plant is relevant to its survival. It is not advisable to leave a plant overnight near a window, since although it may provide ample sunlight and warmth in the daytime, windows tend to get chilly at night.

You need to be on the lookout for cold injuries, that are visible as large sunken areas, or pitting marks on the leaves, which eventually lead to its discoloration.

Step 4: Fertilizing

The winter months are typically characterized as a period of rest for orchid plants, so the need for fertilizing them diminishes considerably, dropping to half the frequency of the summer months.

Caring for orchid plants in the winter requires a different set of rules as compared to caring for the summer months. Winter orchids do not need to be fed, will require less water and less fertilizing and need more warmth than the summer plants. One of the quickest ways to kill an orchid plant is by keeping it in a cold, waterlogged pot – a circumstance you will have to avoid at all costs. Also, make sure you do not over-heat your plants – keep the temperature within their optimal requirements for your plants to thrive.