It’s no secret that plants and cold, brisk weather do not mix well. This is evidently clear each year as the trees and foliage either die off or go dormant during the chilly winter months. It’s not just outdoor plants that suffer from the cold, however, popular indoor plants like orchids can also suffer if proper care procedures are not followed.
Depending on the type of indoor plant you have, it may or may not be affected adversely by the colder temperatures. A number of orchids can be affected by these temperature dips, particularly prior to and during blooming.
Phaleanopsis orchids (the type predominantly used with their characteristically large, ornate blooms) are classified as “Warm Orchids” meaning while in bloom they prefer warm temperatures and detest cold or even cool temperatures. This can be an issue during the work week when people are away from home and thermostats are turned down.
Now that you’re aware of orchid’s fragile nature when it comes to the cold, here are some tips that will allow your orchids to not just survive, but thrive throughout the winter months.
Temperature & Protection
Orchids prefer daytime temperatures of 75 °F or more and nighttime temperatures of 65 °F or more. In winter time, this is not always practical to achieve temperatures quite this warm; however, efforts need to be made to not allow blooming orchids to be exposed to temperatures significantly colder than this.
Damage may also occur in your home if daytime and nighttime temperatures get too cold.
If you are experiencing damage, try investigating if cold damage may have been the cause. If you suspect cold damage, try to determine when it may have happened and take steps to avoid having it happen in the future.
Damage can occur inadvertently during transport inside the vehicle or as the plants are moved to/from the vehicle. If your orchid is sleeved, be sure to keep it sleeved during transport until it arrives at home.
During particularly cold weather, double-sleeving adds extra protection. Make sure your vehicle is adequately warmed (but not hot) during transport and try to minimize the time the orchid is outdoors when transporting it.
If you cannot maintain temperatures this warm indoors, there are several other ways to make sure your orchids look their best:
- Remove flower buds during the winter time to avoid bloom damage as the foliage (leaves) are more tolerant of less-than-ideal temperatures.
- Use plant types that are more tolerant of colder temperatures.
Watering Orchids Correctly
It’s very important to understand the roots of orchids when watering them. In nature, the roots of orchids are often exposed directly to air.
Orchid roots quickly rot and die when sitting in water or wet soil. Water orchids as needed and be sure any excess water drains away from the soil.
Here are a few orchid watering tips:
- Be sure to use a very well-drained soil high in organic matter like sphagnum moss.
- The soil should never be wetter than a wrung-out sponge.
- Never allow water to accumulate in the drainage saucer or the pot as this will lead to root rot.
- When watering, try not to use cold water. Water should feel neutral to the touch.
The best places in the home to place orchids are often near windows due to the ample light which orchids require, especially when blooming. East and south windows are best, but exposure to other directions work as long as the sun isn’t “burning” the plant.
Try to keep orchids away from hot and cold drafts that may come from heaters or other sources of drafts. If the orchids are near windows, closing the blinds at night helps alleviate cold air coming off windows. Be sure the open the blinds during the daytime to allow light to penetrate the room.
Want more orchid care tips? We have you covered! Check out this fantastic video on Cymbidium Orchid Care!
Green Side Up,
Matt Kostelnick, Senior Horticulturist at Ambius
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