New Orchid Growers - Your First Orchid
A Guide for Beginners

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by Stephen R. Batchelor, courtesy of the American Orchid Society. These articles were published in the AOS Bulletin in the 1980's and ultimately were compiled into the excellent book Your First Orchid: A Guide for Beginners offered by the AOS.

General Orchid Information

Beginner Series 1 - The Proper Approach

1 - The Proper Approach

I must confess that I underwent a crisis of confidence when the Editor asked me to write a series of cultural articles for the beginner. Had that much time really passed since that day I enthusiastically purchased my first orchid, a cattleya orchid... read entire article
Beginner Series 2 - Growing Outdoors and in Windows

2 - Growing Outdoors and in Windows

With some ingenuity and persistence, conditions conducive to the growing and flowering of orchids can be achieved anywhere - from below ground level to the tops of tall buildings, inside under entirely artificial light, or outdoors in a more natural setting... read entire article
Beginner Series 3 - Growing Under Lights photo courtesy of Growing Orchids for Dummies

3 - Growing Under Lights

It is hard to imagine sun-loving plants like orchids flowering under the relatively low light intensities of conventional fluorescent tubes. But flower they do. What fluorescent lights lack in intensity, they can compensate for in daily light duration and in numbers... read entire article
Beginner Series 11 - Nomenclature

11 - Nomenclature

Beginning and inveterate orchid growers alike are constantly being offered either seedlings or mericlones as possible additions to their collections. Both are available either in flasks, community pots, or individually in two to... read entire article
Beginner Series 12 - Propagation

12 - Propagation on a Small Scale

Sooner or later, every hobby grower reaches that point where they ask the question "How can I propagate my plant"; or some variation of it like "Can I make more plants from cuttings?" Orchid hobbyists have several simple... read entire article

Orchid Growing Essentials

Beginner Series 4 - Necrotic Patches from Too Much Light and Heat

4 - Light and Temperature

Best flowering generally occurs under higher light intensities of longer duration that leads to the accumulation of food reserves needed for flowering. Cooler temperatures at night, when respiration continues while photosynthesis... read entire article
Beginner Series 5 - Sepal Wilt on a Cattleya Hybrid

5 - Air Pollution, Movement and Humidity

Potted orchid roots require oxygen derived from the air pockets or well-aerated water present in a porous medium, because the uptake of water and nutrients (in addition to root maintenance and growth) is a process which demands energy... read entire article
Beginner Series 6 - Accordion Pleating on Leaf from Too Little Water

6 - Water

Most orchids, particularly the epiphytes, have evolved to withstand dry conditions to some extent. Unlike other more tender plants, orchids don't usually cry out that they need water by wilting in a dramatic fashion. Instead a prolonged period of... read entire article
Beginner Series 7 - Orchid Nutrition

7 - Nutrition

Essential elements for plants are usually divided into two groups. Those needed in relatively large quantities are called the macronutrients (nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium) and those elements... read entire article
Salt deposits from hard water form on orchid leaf

8 - Fertilizer

Soluble salts are at once a bane and a blessing in orchid culture. They can be present in dangerously high concentrations in water supplies and potting media, and yet they are what constitute conventional fertilizers, forming a salt when the water... read entire article
Beginner Series 9 - Medium Grade Bark and Coarse Perlite

9 - Growing Media

Healthy roots are essential to orchids. Without a substrate conducive to root establishment, growth and function, an orchid cannot absorb the nutrients and water it requires. A growing medium should be firm and yet well aerated... read entire article
Beginner Series 10 - Best Time to Repot is When New Roots First Start to Grow

10 - Repotting

Organic media decompose into humus, a material, by itself, unfit for orchid roots. In a decomposed medium roots rarely have adequate oxygen to survive and function. Repotting must occur before significant media decomposition takes... read entire article

Orchid Pests and Diseases

Beginner Series 13 - Orchid Pests

13 - Scale, Mealybugs and Aphids

Scale and Mealybug, who among us can say that they have never had an infestation of mealybug or scale in their orchid collection? Very few, I suspect! Surely among the most common of orchid pests, these closely-related creatures cause... read entire article
Beginner Series 14 - More Orchid Pests

14 - Mites, Slugs and Other Nuisances

Far smaller than scale, mealybug or aphids, and requiring a hand lens (10x-20x) to be directly seen at all, spider mites and false spider mites treat orchid leaves like pin-cushions, and in large numbers can cause considerable injury... read entire article
Beginner Series 15 - Orchid Rots

15 - The Ruinous Rots

Nearly every orchid grower has had some experience with black rots, whether they readily admit it or not! Because these rots are so lethal to plant tissue, and spread so quickly, I would venture to guess that more orchids have been lost to... read entire article
Beginner Series 16 - Orchid Fungi

16 - The Flagrant Fungi

The typical orchid leaf, at some point in its lifetime, becomes spotted or damaged in some way, usually a result of infection by one of the many pathogenic fungi in the conventional growing environment. While rarely lethal except to the... read entire article
Beginner Series 17 - Orchid Virus

17 - Victims of Virus

Are we all victims of virus? I wonder as I write, sniffling and sniffing, coughing and sneezing, suffering from a frequent viral complaint! Is there no cure for the common cold? Are there no remedies for orchid virus? Unfortunately not... read entire article