Orchids are perennial flowering plants that can live for approximately 20 to 25 years in the wild. Some species can live for much longer. The world’s oldest orchid belongs to the Singapore Botanic Gardens and is estimated to be over 150 years old! In my experience, indoor orchids probably won’t live as long as wild specimens. But your orchid can live for approximately 10 to 15 years with the right care and environmental conditions.
Tips for Increasing the Longevity of Your Orchid Plant
Caring for an orchid isn’t as complicated as it’s made out to be. However, there are still some essential care requirements to address. Providing the best possible care can help your orchid live for several years.
Most types of orchids require bright, indirect light throughout the year. The best location for an orchid plant is approximately 3 feet away from an east or west-facing window. These areas provide plenty of sunlight while protecting your orchid from direct sunlight, which can scorch its leaves.
Most orchids sold as houseplants come from tropical areas (orchids can thrive outdoors as well in certain climates). If you’re growing orchids indoors, this means that they need warm temperatures between 65 and 85ºF (18 to 30ºC) and humidity levels between 40 and 70%. Use humidifiers or pebble trays to increase humidity and mist your orchid regularly. Some types of orchids can also be grown directly in water.
Orchids are sensitive to sudden changes in temperature, which can shock the plant (and cause symptoms such as yellowing orchid leaves). Always protect your orchid from cold or dry drafts that could lower the temperature or humidity. Air vents, open windows, or radiators typically cause drafts.
Essential Orchid Plant Care
Water your orchid whenever the top inch of its growing medium feels dry (we generally recommend not watering orchids with ice cubes). Use a specialized orchid soil mix to provide the right mix of aeration and drainage. Fertilize your orchid once a month during the active growing season using diluted orchid fertilizer.
Many people give up on an orchid once it’s finished flowering. However, the orchid has simply gone dormant to replenish its energy stores. This can take between 3 and 9 months, depending on the exact species, so be patient. With the proper care during this dormant phase, you can help your orchid rebloom every year.
Trim the old flower stalk just above a healthy node once flowering has finished and the spent blooms have dropped off. Continue watering your orchid once a week and fertilizing once a month until a new flower stalk appears. Then, place your orchid in a cooler spot for about a month to trigger new blooms. It’s also prudent to stay on top of any common orchid plant pests, bugs, and diseases.
If you’re planning a vacation or work trip, see our essential tips on caring for orchids whilst you’re away.
Despite being sold as short-lived houseplants, most orchids can live for up to 15 years with the right care. Don’t give up on your orchid once it’s finished flowering. Continue caring for it to help it rebloom, and enjoy these symbolic plants for months and years to come.
If you’re looking for your next orchid plant to add to your collection, see our in-depth guide to the best plant shops delivering orchids nationwide.
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.