How Long Do Orchid Blooms Last? Tips for Growing Orchids

By: Alia Hoyt & Desiree Bowie  | 
Pink orchids blooming against a green background
Orchid blooms can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the species and environmental conditions. Elena Medoks / Getty Images

If exotic floral flair is what you're after, orchids are the way to go. With more than 25,000 species spanning about 80 million years in existence, orchids are arguably one of the most beautiful, even intelligent, families of flowering plants in existence.

There's no denying the beauty and uniqueness of these beautiful plants, but if you're in the market for a striking bunch or want to grow your own, you may have a few questions in mind — like, how long do orchid blooms last? Which types are best for growing in a garden? Lucky for you, we have the answers.


In this article, we'll explore some of the most notable types of orchids and the duration of an orchid's bloom, as well as review some helpful care and maintenance tips.

A Brief Overview of Orchids

Orchids, known for their adaptability and resilience, are present on every continent except Antarctica. Although these perennials grow and thrive in cold climates, the most brilliant varieties prefer a more tropical setting like South or Central America.

Orchids by their very makeup have bilateral symmetry, meaning that one side of a flower is a mirror image of the other, just like a human face. People appreciate those clean lines of symmetry, making them more likely to admire the beauty of the bloom [source: Kramer].


hummingbird, orchid
A male coppery-headed emerald hummingbird feeds at orchid flowers in the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Cost Rica.
© Michael & Patricia Fogden/CORBIS

Their characteristics vary so widely across the family that they're impossible to pigeonhole. Size options alone make them unique: They range from as tiny as a pin to as large as a dinner plate.

Looking for a specific color? Pick a shade, any shade — there's an orchid species somewhere in that hue. Some orchids bear striking resemblances to animals like monkeys, lions, doves and ducks.

Orchid Anatomy

Anatomically speaking, however, most orchids consist of a reproductive column, three petals placed in a whorl and three sepals (the usually green, leafy parts of the flower that enclose the bud).

One of the petals, known as the labellum or lip, is extra fancy in appearance because its purpose is to entice insects to visit and encourage pollination.

In particular, the orchid column is innovative because it combines both female and male sex organs within a tube-shaped edifice, rather than these organs existing separately, as is the case with most other types of flowers [sources: Landscape-and-garden, AMNH, Smithsonian Gardens].

Fascination with these beautiful flowers goes back at least as far as the Victorian era, during which aptly named "orchid hunters" ravaged South American habitats to bring them back to England for cultivation on the homefront.

Even today, A-listers continue to covet orchids, as they are regularly found adorning the lapels of stars at movie premieres and as décor at fancy events.


How Long Do Orchid Blooms Last?

Orchid blooms can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the species and environmental conditions.

For instance, the Phalaenopsis orchid, often favored by beginners, can display blooms for about two to three months under optimal care. On the other hand, a Vanda orchid bloom can be as short as one month.


There are a few factors that influence the longevity of the blooms, including temperature, humidity and how well the plant is cared for. Consistent and appropriate watering, along with adequate light and temperature control, are crucial for maximizing bloom duration.

orchid illustrations
Unlike most flowers, orchids combine male and female sex organs on one column.
(c) 2015 HowStuffWorks

And these flowers are not a fan of stress; in fact, orchids in stress-free environments, with no pests or diseases, tend to have longer-lasting flowers.

These flowers demand your love, attention — and the right amount of fertilizer. Fertilizing appropriately during the growing season can further enhance bloom duration and vitality. And the maintenance requirements don't stop in dormancy.

After the flowers wilt, it's crucial to maintain care, as this period is essential for the orchid to gather energy for the next blooming cycle.

Environmental consistency (avoiding abrupt changes in temperature or humidity) also helps in extending the life of the blooms. They're high-maintenance but that gorgeous bloom makes it worth it.


Notable Types of Orchids

Ophrys apifera orchid
To pollinate, the Ophrys apifera, aka the “bee orchid,” copies the scent and appearance of the naughty bits of female bees to attract males ones.
Lars Hallstrom/age fotostock/Getty Images

Orchids are pretty smart, as flowers go. Although they probably won't ever learn advanced calculus, they have evolved in some cool ways to ensure that they continue to spread and grow. Other varieties, have developed their own means for luring pollen-spreading insects. Here are a few examples.

Bulbophyllum beccarii

Flowering plants rely on pollination by insects to spread their genetic material. For bait, most plants offer sweet, sweet nectar, including this unique orchid species.


Since its pollinators are flies and carrion beetles, Bulbophyllum beccarii caters to their preferences by stinking to high heaven to attract them. In fact, one writer likened it to "a herd of dead elephants." Probably not the best type to give at a housewarming party.

Ophrys apifera

Also known as the "bee orchid," this European species effectively copies the scent and appearance of the naughty bits of female bees to attract males.

Then, once the bad-boy bee attempts a tryst, the flower transfers pollen sacs to his back, which he distributes when he flies off.

For the record, these orchids don't discriminate against other types of insects. Its sibling, the Ophrys insectifera (or "fly orchid"), is perfectly happy to entrap flies around Europe too.

Dendrobium sinense

Ever wondered what a frightened bee smells like? If so, grab one of these orchids and sniff away to find out. Hornets are the pollinator of choice for these Chinese beauties, and hornets enjoy nothing more than a nice bee buffet.

So by smelling like scaredy-cat bees, these orchids actually attract hornets in search of a bee-flavored meal.

Vanilla planifolia

Yep, you read that right. The stuff of culinary tastiness is actually harvested from the vanilla plant, which is — drumroll please — a type of orchid! Boggles the mind, right?

The flavor doesn't come from the bloom, however. Vanilla plants feature pods (known interchangeably as beans), which, when cracked open, reveal thousands of teeny black seeds.

To ensure enough vanilla beans to meet worldwide demand, they have to be hand-pollinated. See, orchids are smart: This one has the humans doing all the work for it.


Tips for Growing Orchids

the Phalaenopsis or moth orchid
This is the most common type of orchid, the Phalaenopsis or moth orchid. Not surprisingly, it is easy to grow.
© Chuck Berman/ZUMA Press/Corbis

Although cultivating orchids isn't usually as simple as dropping a few seeds in the dirt, it's also not unreasonably difficult, either. You might want to start with an established plant or some cuttings, however, since some orchid plants can take several years to bloom if started from seed.

Find the Right Type for Your Climate

The first step in growing orchids is to find one that suits your climate and capabilities. Tropical varieties simply aren't going to fancy the harsh Michigan winters, you know?


A popular choice for novice growers are Phalaenopsis orchids, also known as moth orchids, but are much prettier than their nickname indicates.

They're so popular and relatively easy to maintain that they can be purchased at many big-box retailers, and require no fancy heating or lighting to thrive since they prefer to be raised in the same indoor climate that humans typically enjoy [source: Just Add Ice Orchids].

Move Potted Orchids Outside During Warmer Months

If you select a potted orchid, expect to find rock, peat moss, moss or bark in place of standard soil. This is because orchids found in nature actually don't grow in the ground, and instead root themselves on bushes, tree branches and trunks.

Although this practice might seem parasitic, orchids don't take anything from their unwitting hosts or cause any sort of harm.

The American Orchid Society suggests moving potted orchids outside during the warmer months, typically to a patio or a spot underneath a tree. Doing so will actually improve their ability to grow and thrive, rather than keeping them cooped up year-round.

Proper Lighting Is Key

To maintain household orchid plants effectively, focus on providing proper lighting. Orchids need bright, indirect sunlight; an east-facing window is ideal. If natural light is limited, use grow lights but avoid overexposure.

Watch the leaves for clues: Bright green indicates good light levels, while dark green suggests insufficient light, and red-tinged or yellow leaves can mean too much direct sunlight.

Adjust your orchid's position or light intensity accordingly to ensure it receives the optimal amount of light for healthy growth.

Water as Needed

As with many types of plants, the amount of water provided is critical to success. Avoid under- or overwatering your orchid by keeping tabs on the natural weight of the plant. In other words, you don't want it to be too heavy with water, or so light that it's dried out.

Experts also recommend you water for about 15 seconds using lukewarm tap water, best done earlier in the day to ensure evaporation by the time the sun goes down. Then allow your plant to drain for 15 minutes, say over a kitchen sink [source: American Orchid Society].

It's also helpful to feed your orchid a diluted fertilizer on a weekly basis after watering because fertilizer applied to dry roots can be damaging. Some orchid enthusiasts advocate "watering" with a handful of strategically placed ice cubes, rather than standard H2.

Others, however, warn against that practice, making the point that the roots of historically tropical plants aren't meant to encounter freezing temps [source: Flanders].

Use a Potting Mix

For orchids, the best "soil" isn't soil at all but a specialized orchid mix. This mix typically consists of bark, charcoal, perlite and sphagnum moss providing excellent drainage and air circulation vital for orchid roots.

Avoid regular potting soil, as it retains too much moisture and can lead to root rot.

The right mix mimics an orchid's natural growing conditions on tree bark, allowing roots to access air and moisture as needed. When repotting, choose a blend specific to your orchid type for optimal growth. Regularly check and replace the mix every couple of years to maintain health.

Be Mindful of Dormancy Periods

Orchid newbies might also make the grave error of assuming the plant is a goner after the blooms fall off. Don't be so quick to assign a time of death, though!

Orchids are not like many common houseplants that look healthy year-round. Instead, they go through dormancy periods that allow the plant to relax and recharge for the next blooming session [source: Just Add Ice Orchids].

If you can't find the right orchid type and have some extra cash lying around, you can always pay to propagate or clone a rare orchid species of your own.


Orchid Cloning

Orchids used to be fairly expensive and reserved for people with deep pocketbooks. Thanks to DNA and cloning technology, horticulturists now produce in the neighborhood of 100,000 affordable hybrid orchids [source: Natural Garden].

Orchid cloning, a form of tissue culture, is a sophisticated method used to reproduce orchids identically. This technique involves taking a small piece of the orchid plant, often from the tip or a new growth, and placing it in a sterile, nutrient-rich medium under controlled environmental conditions.


The process, known as meristem culture, leverages the ability of plant cells to regenerate into a full plant, enabling the production of large numbers of orchids that are genetically identical to the parent plant.

This method is particularly valuable for propagating rare or endangered orchid species, as well as for commercial growers who wish to produce consistent, high-quality plants. Orchid cloning ensures uniformity in flower size, color and plant vigor, which is difficult to achieve through traditional breeding methods.

Additionally, it allows for the rapid multiplication of new hybrids or desirable traits. However, it requires specialized equipment, a sterile environment and expertise in plant biology, making it more complex than traditional propagation methods.

This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.

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