Since your orchid can live to be 100 (honest!), use these tips to buy orchids that are healthy and hardy at the outset.

1. Choose The Source Wisely. Buying orchids from knowledgeable, experienced vendors increases your odds of successful orchid growing many times. Why? Unfortunately, well-meaning grocery clerks and discount store owners often throw the new orchid shipment in the refrigerator for a day or two. A night or even an afternoon in a 40° refrigerator can stunt growth and prevent bloom for a year in many orchid types. Buyers should also beware of amateur growers at shows who sometimes try to sell their poorer specimens to unsuspecting orchid newbies. The tips below will help you recognize the viruses and diseases orchids and other house plants contract. A reputable online company like ProPlants guarantees its products and will replace any orchid the recipient is concerned about. Further, when you order flowers from an online vendor, make sure they have a satisfaction guarantee as rigorous as ProPlants’.

2. Start With a Mature Plant. Some orchid genera and species take seven to 16 years to bloom. If you think you’re getting a deal on a tiny orchid, know that you’ll be putting quite a bit of work into it before it gives back. A seedling has fronds only, no flowers or flower spikes. Mature plants withstand overwatering or temporary arid conditions better than the new seedling. Caring for orchids in seedling form requires more energy and attention. 

3. Examine the Plant forSigns of Orchid Disease, Genetic Weakness or Pest Infestation. Use caution when buying orchids for sale.

Signs of Healthy Orchids Include:

  • Aerial roots are white with green tips, the longer the shiny green tip, the better.
  • Robust color in the blooms
  • Thick, rubbery leaves
  • Orchid leaves  that are uniformly green, not mottled (unless it’s a mottled species like some Paphiopedilum)
  • Barely moist potting mix (neither soaking wet, nor bone dry)
  • Choose an orchid plant that’s healthy overall rather than a frail plant with a lot of blooms. An abundance of blooms can drain the plant’s energy, and it may not bloom the next year or bloom poorly.

Signs of Unhealthy Orchids Include:

  • Black spots or crust
  • White webbing on orchid leaves
  • Limp leaves on orchid
  • Yellow leaves on orchid
  • Orchid yellow or brown spots
  • Damp black spots on orchid
  • Torn leaves or petals with tiny holes

4. Choose types of orchids that match the level of care you can provide: Some orchid plants are best suited to precisely controlled greenhouse conditions under the care of dedicated, daily oversight. Are you up for that level of work?The easiest orchids to grow and keep alive are Phalaenopsis orchid (moth orchid) and Paphiopedilum (Lady Slipper). These are also the most tolerant to shade. Most likely you will be dunking these orchids in a bucket of water enriched with orchid fertilizer once a week. Do you have time for this? Dendrobiums and Cymbidium orchids, due to with water-storing pseudobulbs, can tolerate dry spells if you tend to forget your house plants.  

5.  Where do you plan to put the orchid?

Orchids Outside: the only orchids that can withstand even one frost are the Cymbidium and the Dendrobium, and even this hardy plant should be brought inside when night time temperatures fall below 35°. One frost will kill most other orchids. If you want your orchids living outside for the majority of the year, the Cymbidium is your orchid flower.

Orchids Inside: this is where most orchids thrive, particularly if they’re getting the moisture they crave. Owners who live in dry climates and those who run forced air heaters can give their orchids moisture with daily spritzing and even a humidity tray (cookie sheet lined with pebbles and filled with water.)

Sunny Window: Dendrobium and Oncidium

House Interior: Phalaenopsis and Paphiopedilum


6.  Buy Orchids That Bloom During The Season You Crave Floral Color The Most. Phalaenopsis bloom winter to spring when many American long for some natural color to offset the gray, rainy days. Oncidiums, on the other hand, can bloom several times each year, typically in spring and fall. Paphiopedilums bloom in June and July. Some orchid lovers buy several types so they can have beautiful, unique blooms in their homes year round.

Reviving The Traveling Orchid

Many of the best orchids come from online florists. While they do their best to get orchids across the country safely, sometimes plants can arrive a little weary. Not to worry. Give your orchid a day at the spa! The orchid spa, that is. When roots appear to be lifeless, soak the entire plant in one gallon of tepid water with ½ cup of sugar over night. Allow roots to dry before planting.

No One Can Buy Just One . . .

Be careful: one orchid purchased on a whim quickly leads to a small collection. The 25,000 different species in 700 genera offer such a panoply of color, shape and profusion that creating an orchid garden can seem more natural that sticking to just one plant. Always keep new orchids isolated for a week or so to make sure no diseases develop before introducing it to your other plants. The modicum of effort you put into buying orchids will ensure you minimize aggravation and maximize enjoyment of this fascinating flower.


More ProPlants’ Orchid Care Articles:

Orchid Types: Find the Ideal Orchid Plant for Your Home, Zone and Lifestyle 

Orchid Diseases, Fungus and Pests Symptom and Solution Chart

Orchid Care Guide for All Types, An Overview 

5 Orchid Types, 5 Approaches to Care: How Orchid Origin Affects Care

Orchid Types and Care Handy Comparison Chart