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READ THIS FIRST!! Does your orchid have drainage?

Help! My orchid is potted in a non-draining pot. What should I do?

Upated 3/20/17

It’s happened to all of us…we are at the store and we spot a beautiful orchid in a decorative pot. “That would make an excellent gift and/or it would be amazing on my windowsill at home.” We snatch the orchid up and bring it home. To our shock and sadness, it only blooms for a short while and then the leaves start to turn yellow or wrinkle up. So we toss it. “Orchids are so hard to grow,” we think.

What we failed to realize is that this beautiful orchid was planted in a pot without a drainage hole (as shown in all the pictures above). You see, orchids NEED drainage to survive. They naturally live in a jungle environment, often times on a tree, with free-flowing water. And unlike other plants, orchids will suffer in standing water. They WILL die in this environment because these pots suffocate the roots of an orchid by trapping water. This process causes root rot, which is hard to fix. It is essential to have your orchid in a pot that allows water to flow freely out the bottom. Refer to the pictures below. (Check out my favorite pots on my post on Clear Plastic Pots).

So what can you do?

Don’t get confused –  most websites say to wait to repot orchids till after their blooms have fallen. NOT in this case, because they need to escape this environment. Repotting orchids in bloom can cause the blooms to prematurely fall off due to shock. But I don’t want you to fully repot it. I want you to “drop pot” or create a situation in which it has drainage.

1. GENTLY pull the plant out of the closed container. Hopefully, inside the pot with no drainage, there is another clear plastic container with drainage. If this is the case, then leave it alone outside of the “no drainage” pot. Let it completely dry out. The next time you water it, be sure to follow the watering instructions on my post, Watering Orchids. Eventually you can repot it (once the blooms have fallen) in a more substantial drainage pot. Most of the time, those inner plastic pots are pretty flimsy.

2. If there is not an inside clear pot, you will want to gently pull it out of its singular pot. If it won’t budge, then you can soak it in a tub of water for a few minutes (this softens the roots) and see if you can gently pull it out. If it still won’t budge, you may have to break to the pot in order to take it out.

Moving a currently blooming orchid from one pot to another is called “drop potting” and should only be done in extreme situations such as this. You are not going to want to fully repot it. Once you have freed the orchid from the suffocating pot you will want to “drop” (place gently) the orchid, IN ITS ORIGINAL mix, into a similar size pot with drainage. In extreme situations I cut off the bloom/stem when I realized the roots were rotting so bad that they could not support this bloom cycle and the whole plant would die. You see orchids work in a balance between their leaves, blooms and roots. Cutting off the bloom stem helps transfer the plants energy to growing new roots and new leaves.

3. Now that your orchid is in a cozy and free draining home let it rest for a bit before watering. Hopefully, the new drainage will allow it to bloom happily for months. You may lose some blooms due to “bud blast,” but this does not mean the plant is dying. It is just adjusting to its new home, and is protecting itself by letting it’s blooms fall off.

4. Once your orchid is done blooming, follow my repotting instructions because they will most likely need completely new mix.

Note: Here are more pictures I took at local grocery stores for your reference. These are potted in non draining pots.

Hope that helps,


Feel free to leave comments or questions here, and you can always email me at myfirstorchid@gmail.com with pictures of your orchid.


Orchid 101

Orchid 101

Updated 3/20/17

So you just got a brand new orchid and you want to know what to do?

If you are new to this world, you need not be afraid. Orchids have a reputation of being really hard to grow but are actually very easy. All you need to do is take some time to learn what they need. Orchids have also been known to be expensive, however  with good care, an orchid can be in bloom for several months a year and can live indefinitely. That makes them an excellent value as far as blooming plants go.

Orchids are not like other potted plants. Orchid care is not difficult, it is just different. They are epiphytes, meaning they do not grow in dirt. Most of them grow by hanging or clinging onto the bark of trees in nature. Caring for an orchid is not hard if you have the right tools, and hopefully this site will help you to be successful! I have an extensive catalogue of useful information on orchids that you can look through, collected from all over the internet, local growers and my personal experience.

So let’s begin with your very first orchid:

  1. The first thing I do is make sure the orchid has proper water drainage. Most orchids are sold in pots without a drainage hole, producing root rot and eventually killing the orchid. (I discuss this here – READ THIS FIRST)
  2. Next, I usually wait to water it until the mix is completely dry. Most orchids are overpacked with mix and then overwatered before we get them to make sure they are still in bloom for the stores that sell them. I water my orchids as shown in my post –  Watering Orchids.
  3. Then I sit back and enjoy the blooms. (Which may not last long since it has probably been in bloom for quite some time before I got it). Orchids typically bloom for a few months but store-bought ones have already been in bloom before they were shipped. These blooms naturally fall off as shown in my post – Orchid Blooms Falling off Naturally.
  4. Once the blooms fall off naturally I cut the bloom stem back as shown in my post – Cutting an Orchid Stem.
  5. I then typically repot them as shown in my post – How to Repot?

Do you have a question? I love helping people out and answering questions.

I welcome questions, but please read the other blog post first on watering, fertilizing, repotting etc. It helps both of us know what is going on a little more before you ask a question. I sometimes get people who are so excited about orchids (like me) that they ask a question before reading the other blog post; then I spend a lot of time linking those post in my answers. 🙂

When leaving a comment or emailing please answer these questions:

  • How long you have had your orchid?
  • What type of orchid it is – it’s fine if you don’t know
  • What the problem/question is.
  • How are you watering it? How much and how often?
  • Does it have a drainage hole?
  • Also a picture of your “troubled” orchid helps. If you can’t take a picture that is fine.

Hope that helps,


Feel free to leave comments or questions here and you can always email me at myfirstorchid@gmail.com with pictures of your orchid.


Orchids sold from big box stores. 

Updated 2/27/17

Many times when we get orchids into our homes they were mistreated before we got them. Mass production of orchids in green houses forces them into bloom (which in itself does not hurt orchids) and then they are shipped to stores. The shipping process can be taxing to orchids and then they are placed in grocery stores etc. that tend to over or underwater them and most provide zero natural light.

And A LOT of places sell orchids in pots with no drainage holes (as shown above) which exacerbates all the problems stated above because the roots are basically trapped in water and begin to rot (even though the blooms may look beautiful at the time).

Then we get them they begin to suffer and we think we have hurt an orchid when actually it was all the stuff that happened to it before we got it. It’s very frustrating but not our faults at all.

I recommend repotting or “drop potting” orchids like this as soon as you can after you get them. I like to wait till the blooms have fallen and then repot. I also do not water them at all in between the time I get them and repot them because they normally have water trapped in their pots. Please read my post titled, “Read this first” as it explains what to do if an orchid is sold to you with a non draining pot.

Hope that Helps,


My Orchids – updated 7/22/15

I have many orchids. I keep notes on them to stay organized. I keep them on humidity trays in a large window seat in my living room.

Here are pictures of the ones that I have the longest. This is not by any means all the orchids that cycle threw my house. I “save,” (I am given many orchids – that are done blooming and did not sell – by local florist) repot and giveaway a ton each year. So, check back because I will be updating this post, as they bloom. This post is mostly for me so I can see what my orchids look like through the years:)

1. Phalaenopsis orchid from Aldi.




2015 – bloomed 6/1/15 8 blooms

#2. Phalaenopsis orchid from Aldi.


2013 – bloomed after almost three years of bring dormant!! Color changed to white – 5 big blooms

2015 – 7/19/15 – 5 white blooms

#3. Already bloomed orchid from Garden Heights

2013 (2/8/13) – 8 medium dark pink blooms – hasn’t bloomed since 2011

2013 (12/1/13) bloomed 2x this year – 10 medium dark pink blooms – 1 stalk with two branches!!
#4. Already bloomed orchid from SHT 1/1/11
2013 (3/5/13) – 6 big dark pink blooms – hasn’t bloomed since 2011
2013/2014 (12/21/13) bloomed 2x this year – 9 big dark pink blooms – 1 stalk with several branches!!
#5. My Rockstar Orchid!
2012 – 15 blooms!

2013 – 20 blooms!

2014 – waiting for it to bloom / it has spiked / I accidentally knocked the tip of the spike so it is taking longer

#6. Phalaenopsis orchid from Jesse for my birthday from Aldi on 10/29/11.


#7. Phalaenopsis orchid from Trader Joes on 11/5/11.


2015 – spiked 1/11/15 Bloomed 6/11/15 5 blooms


8. Phalaenopsis orchid bought from Trader Joe’s on 11/28/11.

Has not bloomed since 2011
#9. Phalaenopsis orchid pink/white orchid from Aldi.


2013 – slightly lighter this year with 7 blooms

2014 – waiting for bloom / it has spiked

2015 – spiked 1/11/15 Bloomed 5/29/15 4 blooms

#?. Phalaenopsis orchid from Trader Joes on 11/26/11. Need to look into this…

2011 thru 2012

#10. 2013 – did not bloom
#11. Twinkle Oncidium orchid bought and bloomed in 2012.
2013 1-1-13
2013 (11-11-13) bloomed 2x this year!!
#12. Phapiopedilum orchid “Lady Slipper” from Bowood Farms
2012 – bloomed but didn’t get a picture
2014 – it spiked and waiting for it to open:)
2015 – 1/28/15 – changed mix
#13. Phalaenopsis for Mother’s Day from Bowood Farms – this orchid passed away:(
#14. Phalaenopsis orchid for Mother’s Day from ProFlowers
15. Phalaenopsis orchid from Schnucks for my bday 10/29/13.
16. Cattleya “George Hausserman – Carl” from Hawaii for my bday 10/29/13

2013 – not in bloom when purchased – this orchid passed away:(

17. Blue Vanda “Prao Sky blue – Phathai” from Hawaii for my bday 10/29/13

2013 – not in bloom when purchased – potted in a vanda box that I will hang up

Hope that Helps,


Feel free to leave comments or questions here and you can always email me at myfirstorchid@gmail.com with pictures of your orchid. 

Keiki “Baby Orchid”

What is a keiki?

updated 3/20/17

The word keiki is Hawaiian for “baby.” A keiki is essentially a baby orchid produced from your original “mother” plant. A keiki will be the same genre as the mother and will have similar color and likeness. There are two types of keikis: basal keiki and apical/ariel keiki.

  • Basal means it is located at or near the base of an orchid.
  • Apical means it grows from the apex of the bloom stem of an orchid….way up high.

As defined above, keiki’s can grow in two different locations on an orchid and for two different reasons.

Locations (Places a keiki will grow):

  • Apical keiki – From an existing stalk with its OWN aerial roots (shown above). These grow high on already existing orchid bloom stalks.


  • Basal keiki – Along side the existing orchid, growing from its base and SHARING the same root system (shown above).

Reasons (a keiki will grow):

  • Many times an orchid will “save itself” by sprouting a keiki because it is dying. This happens a lot when crown or root rot has taken hold of an orchid. Please see my post on Orchid Health: Rot.
  • A dormant node on an orchid “decides” to sprout a new keiki in an otherwise completely healthy orchid. This happens when there is a build up of growth hormones.

What should you do with a keiki?

 You can do two different things, depending on where the keiki is located.

A. Apical keiki – If it is sprouting from an existing bloom stem, way up high (as shown in the first example – under locations) with its own aerial roots you should do the following:

  1. Wait until it has at least two or three good size roots.
  2. Snip it off about 1 or 2 inches down the bloom stalk, being careful to not clip the small keiki roots.
  3. Repot it NEXT to the existing mother plant for the first year (if it is time to repot the mother then repot both at the same time in the same pot). After the first year, you may place it in its own little pot. We do this because it’s the same genre and it helps to keep it in the same mix it grew in order to regulate humidity, watering and fertilization. Or, if the mother is suffering, you would want to repot the keiki in a fresh new pot and most likely discard the mother.
  4. When potting it, you will want to push the roots downward with the small shoot that you have cut off. Roots are sometimes not malleable unless wet. If this is the case, then I would recommend soaking them in water before doing this.

It may take months before an Ariel keiki is ready to be cut off. Below is an example.


Note: you can keep the keiki on the existing mother plant and it will bloom, but it may look a bit sloppy because it’s dangling in the air. I would only suggest doing this if the mother plant is healthy and you don’t mind the look.

B. Basal keiki – If it is sprouting from the root base, along side an existing orchid (as shown in the second example – under location), you will want to do the following:

This case is very different from the above one because the keiki is SHARING the root system of the mother (it does not have one of its own) and therefore CANNOT be separated! In this case you should leave it alone. These keikis tend to grow quickly because they are sharing the existing established root system of the mother.

In the case of a basal keiki growing because the mother plant is dying, you would still do nothing. The mother plant will die back/fade away and the basal keiki will replace it. How cool is that?!

In the case of a basal keiki growing because there was a build up of growth hormones on a healthy orchid, again do nothing. The mother and baby will grow side by side and create an even bigger orchid.

Hope that helps,


Feel free to leave comments or questions here and you can always email me at myfirstorchid@gmail.com with pictures of your orchid.

Paphiopedilum Orchids

Updated 3/1/17

img_0979Paphiopedilum orchids are best known as their pseudonym, “The Lady Slipper.” They are really, really cool and unique as far as orchids go because they have one BIG bloom instead of a bunch of small to medium blooms.

The Lady Slipper is a monopodial orchid meaning it does not have a pseudobulb, like the common Phalaenopsis orchid. Monopodial orchids need to be watered more frequently because without a pseudobulb they do not have a water reserve. I treat my Lady Slipper the way I treat my Phalaenopsis orchids in that I wait for their mix to get dry and then water them. Click on my post on How to Water for more information.

Lady Slippers also need special mix, which I get from rePotme, that helps them keep moist between watering. I also like to fertilize them in the same way I fertilize my other orchids.

  • Spring – production of late blooming and repot when out of bloom
  • Summer – production of new root and leaf growth
  • Fall – production of new root and leaf growth/potential of new spike
  • Winter – production of new spikes and blooms

Hope that helps,


Feel free to leave comments or questions here and you can always email me at myfirstorchid@gmail.com with pictures of your orchid.

Dendrobium Orchids


Updated 3/1/17

Dendrobiums are tall with elongated pseudobulbs (stems) topped by modest sized leaves. Their shoots look like bamboo canes and should not be cut back because even after the leaves fall from the oldest pseudobulbs they continue to provide sustenance to the plant. You should only cut them back, if they are shriveled.

Dendrobiums like to grow in a very small pot, often the pot looks ridiculously small compared to the height of the plant. This presents some problems because they tend to be top-heavy. You can keep them from tipping over by placing them in clay pots. You can also use broken brick, cobblestone or pea gravel in the bottom of the pot to weigh it down. Precise staking of Dendrobiums to make them well-balanced is also critical. I used twist ties and tied them up around a sturdy stake.

These orchids grow quickly throughout summer and normally take a rest during winter. Dormant buds erupt into shoots from the base of the pseudobulb usually in spring. They should be repotted after blooming and sadly they often resent repotting and in extreme cases can be killed if repotted at the wrong time. Dendrobiums prefer to be repotted only as new growth appears.

These orchids are easy to grown indoors but need more light (they need to be in a bright window in your home) then the popular, Phalaenopsis.

Here’s a picture of my Dendrobium that bloomed in January 2012.


Dendrobium Basics

  • Blooms: Winter thru Spring
  • Water: Water thoroughly then allow to dry out briefly between waterings.
  • Light: These orchids like bright light. You can place them near a bright window
  • Temperature: they like a minimum temp of 60 degrees and a maximum of 95
  • Fertilize: I use FEED me
  • New pseudobulbs in the Spring and Summer, rest in the Fall/Winter and Spikes following rest.
  • Natural Cues: Like other orchids they take their bloom cue from the shortening day length in the Fall
  • Repotting: should take place usually every two years, sooner if they are trying to grow outside of their pot.
  • Potting Mixes: I use Dendrobium Imperial Orchid Mix from rePotme.

Hope that helps,


Feel free to leave comments or questions here and you can always email me at myfirstorchid@gmail.com with pictures of your orchid.

Oncidium Orchids


Known as the,”The Dancing Lady” this is a beautiful orchid that is jam-packed with flowers (as shown above). Their flowers tend to “fall” or cascade down and are much smaller than most orchids. Each flower resembles a tiny lady dancing, which makes them quite fun! Normally their colors range from a yellow, tricolor, or the popular “Red Sharry baby” (which, I have been told, smells like chocolate) shown below…


These orchids are easy to grown indoors but need MORE light (they need to be in a bright window in your home) then the popular, Phalaenopsis.

Don’t be alarmed if it seems like your Oncidiums are growing up an out of their pots (as shown below). This is normal for this type of orchid because in nature they would be trying to grow up a tree trunk. And don’t be quick to cut off their shoots because many times they will re-bloom off the same shoot! I was told to cut them back only if they turn brown or are rotting.


As far as repotting, Oncidiums like to be slightly under potted in a very free-draining bark-based potting media. Oncidiums tend to form large clumps of pseudobulbs and develop into rather large plants, which means they can easily be divided when repotting. I have been told to make sure there are at least three pseudobulbs in each division.


Here are two pics of my Oncidium Intergeneric named Wilsonara Kolibri… deep purple!!



Oncidiums Cycle and Needs;

  • Water: You need to water thoroughly then allow to dry out very briefly between waterings.
  • Light: They need bright light.Temperature: Min temp of 55 degrees, max of 95
  • Fertilize: I use FEED ME!.
  • Growth Habit: Grows new pseudobulbs every year. Bloom spikes emerge from new pseudobulbs at the base of the new pseudobulb, usually in fall or winter.
  • Look for: New pseudobulbs in the Spring and Summer, spikes in the Fall, blooms in the Fall or Winter
  • Repot every 1-2 years
  • Potting Mixes: I use Oncidium Imperial Orchid Mix

Introducing my newest orchid – A Miniature Oncidium Twinkle. Of course I named it Twinkle:)

Miniature Oncidiums, the most popular being Oncidium Twinkle, have a remarkable number of flowers for such a small plant. Miniature Oncidiums prefer to be in a small, tight pot and will dry out very quickly. It is a bit of a challenge keeping these little guys moist enough. Still, they are relatively easy to grow and have a generous bloom. Unlike standard Oncidiums, the miniature varieties are less likely to attempt to grow up and out of the pot.

These are diminutive plants, usually 6 inches or less in height.

Hope that Helps,


Feel free to leave comments or questions here and you can always email me at myfirstorchid@gmail.com with pictures of your orchid.


Cymbidium Orchids


Cymbidium orchids tend to have tall spikes loaded with flowers! This orchid has much smaller pseudobulbs that are topped with long thin leaves. These leaves gently drape to form an attractive foliage plant. Cymbidiums have a fantastic range of colors including; white, green, yellowish-green, cream, yellow, brown, pink, red, and orange. Their blooms can last for up to ten weeks!

These orchids are easy to grown indoors but need MORE light (they need to be in a bright window in your home) and MORE water then the popular, Phalaenopsis. Phalaenopsis orchids have big thick leaves that store water whereas Cymbidiums have long thin leaves that store less water and will need more “man-made” help. If you notice wrinkled pseudobulbs this generally indicates a lack of water. Because of this I highly suggest putting them humidity trays because of their lack of water storage and I would also mist them. Learn here how to make your own humidity trays.


Like other orchids their blooms are triggered, naturally, by a combination of falling temperatures and reduced water. Their natural bloom season is during the winter. Cymbidium flowers grow in sprays, with spikes arising from new pseudobulbs every season


Also similar to most other orchids, Cymbidiums prefer to be repotted shortly after blooming as the new growth is beginning to emerge. They enjoy a rich, loose, organic potting mixture and can be easily divided during repotting in the spring.

One difference between Cymbidium orchids and other types is that they can survive lower temperatures then most orchids.

Cymbidium Basics:

  • Water: water thoroughly then allow to dry out briefly between waterings.
  • Light: these orchids like bright light. You can place them near a bright window
  • Temperature: these types of orchids like a minimum temp of 40 degrees and maximum of 95
  • Growth Habit: these orchids grow new pseudobulbs every year. Ususally in the fall bloom spikes emerge from new pseudobulbs at the base. The older pseudobulbs will not bloom again but they continue to support the plant until they shrivel up and die.
  • Look for: New pseudobulbs in the Spring and Summer, Spikes in the Fall, Blooms in the Winter

Hope that Helps,


Feel free to leave comments or questions here and you can always email me at myfirstorchid@gmail.com with pictures of your orchid.