How to Choose an Orchid

One of the best pieces of advice for a new enthusiast, and a good reminder for the experienced grower, is to check your own personal environment before you buy. Think about the average seasonal temperatures, and the weather patterns, think about the space you can provide. Choose an orchid that is right for your location. The most common mistake, and the most common reason for poor growth, is trying to grow the wrong orchid for the environment you have.

  • In the home, light is one of the most important environmental factors. Talk to an experienced grower who can help you. If you have a nice south window, try Cattleyas, Dendrobiums and Oncidiums. If you have a north window with less light, get a Phalaenopsis or a Paphiopedilum. While the plant is flowering, you can keep it in a location where you can really enjoy the blooms. However, once it has finished blooming is when you need to have the proper grow conditions so that it will bloom again.
  • The temperature requirement of the plant you purchase is also an important thing to consider. If you are growing solely inside this may not be as important as if you are growing on a patio or in a greenhouse.
  • The final most important environmental factor is humidity. In São Paulo, and most of Brazil for that matter, humidity is not a problem, we are relatively okay with an average of 80%, however, if you do not have naturally humid conditions, it is recommended to invest in some kind of equipment {even a simple humidity tray} in order to give your plants a more suitable environment for their growth.

When physically purchasing the orchid there are a few common factors to be aware of.

  • The Plant should be in proportion to the container, and have roots which are growing in as opposed to out of the media. The leaves should be clean and unblemished, turgid and medium green, and be free of visible pests.
  • If you are purchasing a plant in bloom, the flowers should be lustrous and held well above the foliage on a strong, well-supported spike. The petals should be unblemished and free of fungal spotting. It’s a good idea to buy a plant witch does not have all the buds open, as it is impossible to judge flower life after all flowers have opened.
  • Also a very important purchase judgment factor should be the overall cleanliness and order of the vendor. Do the production plants look healthy? Is the staff attentive and interested in your welfare? Can they answer the most elementary of your questions?

This is more of a suggested guideline, especially if you are buying from Brazil where a lot of the plants are grown and harvested in a natural environment {not illegally collected}, and where commercial pesticides and fungicides are not readily available and rarely used {which is actually better for the environment and helps the plants develop strength}.

Selecting an orchid plant isn’t really that different from any other flowering plant purchase. Simply do your homework, talk to other growers and/or your preferred vendor to determine which type of orchid will best suit your environment.


Welcome to Jardim Therapy my blog about orchids and Brazil. Here you will find a few useful references, and some tip & tricks, along with posting of my own personal experience. I absolutely love orchids, and I want to help everyone interested in learning about these unique plants.

As guests of Jardim Therapy you are welcome to browse the home page, post comments, and access the archives. You can also send me a message if you have any questions.