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Caring for your Odontoglossum orchids

Odontoglossum orchid

This is another huge group of orchids which originate in South America, where they live at high altitudes in cool air.  Odontoglossum orchids really became popular during Victorian times and were known as The Queen of Orchids.  Thousands were shipped to Europe during those times and either died en route or subsequently perished in over-heated greenhouses due to a lack of understanding of they should be kept.

Odontoglossum orchid

Odontoglossum orchids like cool conditions, and so they suffer very badly if placed in hot rooms and in direct sunlight.  Their home territory is high in the mountains in the cool damp cloud forests, so watering once a week is important as is frequent spraying with finely misted water. They are seldom as bedecked with flowers as their tropical cousins but are no less beautiful for that.

Other kinds of Orchids as House Plants...

Watering your orchid pot plants

By far the best way to water orchids is to place them in a sink or other container of lukewarm water which comes up to the top of their pots.  Because they are not growing in densely packed soil or compost, the water will easily rise up from the bottom of the pots and saturate the roots.  The plants should be left for several hours, or overnight, and the watering should be repeated on a weekly basis (although most plants will easily survive a 10 interval if you are away).  At the same time as watering, spray the leaves with a fine water mist.  Feeding should be kept to a minimum and stepped up only once new growth or flower shoots appear. Never overdo it – food is not high on the agenda of survival for plants that live perched up in trees with their roots exposed!

What about our native wild orchids?

Yes, we have many native wild orchids throughout Europe and around 30 species in the UK.  Most of them are rare, endangered or in serious decline due to the destruction of their natural habitats. They will not survive being dug up and moved either to gardens and greenhouses or to window ledges. It is also an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to dig up any wild plants without the landowner’s consent.


If you found this information helpful, we are sure you would also like books on the Wild Orchids of Wales, of The Burren, and of the Algarve. Author-signed copies are available here...

Where to see wild orchids

There are many local and national nature reserves where wild orchids can be seen at the right time of year, and the network of local Wildlife Trusts can advise you on the best time to visit and also arrange for you to take part in some of the many tours that they organise during peak flowering times.