All orchids are not created equal and therefore require slightly different care. Orchid classification is based on winter temperature needs for the plant. (Photo courtesy Frank D. Caramanica)

Considered to be the aristocrat of flowers, the orchid exemplifies the essence of sophistication and elegance.
English merchant seamen brought the orchid home during the 19th century.
The exotic colors and unique fragrances made them extremely popular among Britain’s wealthy, who were willing to pay extreme cost for these lovelies.
Luckily, these flowers are now available to all at affordable costs. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture more than $123 million worth of potted orchids are sold in the United States annually.
The most popular season for these sales is between October and Mother’s Day. Orchid sales are second only to poinsettias.
The Physics Factbook reports that there are approximately 20,000 species and 900 genera known making orchids the largest family of flowering plants in the world.
All orchids are not created equal and therefore require slightly different care.
Orchid classification is based on winter temperature needs for the plant.
The orchid is usually classified as warm growing, cool growing and intermediate.
• The warm-growing orchid needs 65 degrees at night and a range of 75 degrees to 85 degrees during the day;
• The cool-growing orchid needs 50 degrees at night and daytime temperatures under 70 degrees; and
• The intermediate growing orchid needs a night temperature of 60 degrees and daytime temps of 70 degrees F to 85 degrees. The intermediate-growing orchid is the most suited for growing inside in the winter.
A fluctuation of 10 to 20 degrees between day and night temperatures is essential for all orchids and triggers them to produce flowers.
Winter care of all orchids includes attention to light, ventilation, water and temperature.
Light is usually the biggest concern when bringing orchids indoors for the winter months and is the key to the success of the plant.
Outdoors orchids consume 14 hours or more of natural light.
Twelve to 14 hours of natural light is ideal, but difficult in most northern parts of the United States during the winter months.
If the light source is inconsistent an investment in a growing light should be considered.
Usually the cost of a good growing light is under $100 and will insure the consistency of light needed to keep plants healthy.
Temperature consistency is extremely important.
Do not place orchids near an outside door or drafty window.
Orchids do not like drafts, or blasts of hot air. Keep your orchid away from vents and space heaters.
Most homes set temperatures in the high sixties during winter. While the temperature is above 60 degrees, orchids cannot be sustained.
During the winter temperatures need to be in the 70s.
Set aside a special area for higher temperatures. Zoned heating is an option as are portable heaters.
While windows provide light for orchids they can also produce temperature fluctuations.
Too much exposure during cloudy days or at night can cause damage.
Conversely, if the sun is shining brightly it can increase the temperature too much causing damage.
Keep the temperature around orchids as consistent as possible.
Humidity and air quality reflect on watering.
Water orchids as soil starts to dry out. Check the roots and if dry and gray the orchid needs water. A unique way to water the orchid is to place an ice cube in the pot daily.
The slow, steady melt will keep the soil moist. Another option is to make a watering tray.
Place small stones in the bottom of a shallow tray, fill with water and set the potted orchid on top.
When watering let the water drain through the potholes.
Using a humidifier may help but good watering is essential.
Air is drier in the winter months even with the use of a humidifier
Insects and bugs are among the issues that arise when air becomes stale. Closing windows and doors for the winter can make the air become stale and lose quality.
A fan is a great solution to keep air moving in a home.
Point the fan in the opposite direction of the orchids and be sure to turn any overhead fans to pull air up away from the plant or keep plants away from the direct blowing of a fan that blows hot air back down to the floor.
Fertilizing isn’t as important during the winter as the other basics.
Use it less frequently during the winter months to allow the plants to be more stable and rest rather than focus on growth.