Orchids, like all plants, need a balance of light, air, water and food to grow and flower well.

• Light: Not giving orchids enough light is the most common reason for failure to bloom. How much light is enough? The answer to this seemingly simple question is "as much as they will take without burning." This means that the foliage should NOT be a lush, dark green. Orchids grown under sufficient light will have lighter, somewhat yellow-green foliage and strong upright growths.

• Air: Orchids roots, and eventually the entire plant, will die if they do not get air. Orchid potting media should be open, with exceptionally good drainage, yet capable of holding sufficient moisture to support the plant's needs. Orchid plants are also intolerant of a stale, stagnant environment. You should strive for a buoyant atmosphere and gentle air movement must be provided at all times. For orchids grown in the home, this can be provided by an overhead paddle fan set on it's lowest setting or a portable oscillating fan directed AWAY from the plants.

• Water: Without question, more orchids are killed by incorrect watering than by any other reason. Proper watering consists of two separate components; quantity and frequency. Orchids should be watered just as they dry out. There are several ways to determine when a potted orchid is almost dry: 

1) the surface of the potting mix will appear dry;
2) dry pots will feel lighter;
3) clay pots feel dry;
4) a wooden stake or skewer inserted into the potting mix will come out almost dry. 

When orchids are watered, they should be watered copiously. Water should be provided until it runs freely from the drainage holes.  At a minimum, try to thoroughly water your plants at least once a month.  When an orchid is over watered, root loss is the result. Without roots an orchid cannot take up water or nutrients and eventually, will get weak and die.

• Fertilizer: Typically plants are fertilized once a week during the summer and every two weeks in the fall and winter. Regardless of the fertilizer that you chose to use, most experienced growers use no more than ½ the label-recommended strength.  It is best to water first to wet the potting medium before you fertilize.  Fertilizers used on orchids should contain little or no urea.

Most experienced growers will agree that observation is the most important key to growing orchids well. Examining your plants on a regular basis will allow you to adjust and correct any problems before they become severe.