Orchid blooms are distinct and beautiful, but unless conditions are exactly right, they may be short-lived. The Orchidaceae plant family contains more than 25,000 different species. While orchids grow all over the world, they are most common in warm tropical and subtropical regions. Extend the lifespan of orchid plants and blossoms by giving orchids proper care and paying close attention to their needs.
Generally, orchid flowers may be separated into two different growth types. In nature, epiphytic orchids grow on tree branches, not on soil. Epiphytic orchids may appear to be parasitic, but they cause no harm to the trees they grow on. The plants feed of decomposing plant matter that sticks to their roots. Dendrobium and cattleya orchids are both epiphytic. Terrestrial orchids grow on the ground, and are more hardy than warmth-loving epiphytic orchids.
Orchids are air-loving plants, and cannot be planted in soil alone. For soil that's airy and well draining, add light potting media such as bark chips and peat. Gardeners may exercise more control over container-grown orchids; they are easier to cultivate and care for than stationary garden plants. Orchids are sensitive to light. Too much light will not prevent flowering, but it will bleach and discolor the foliage -- while a small amount of light will keep the plant from producing blossoms. Fertilize orchids regularly to provide the nutrients. Use balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer every two to four weeks. With good care and regular maintenance, an orchid plant may live for a lifetime -- 100 years, or more.
Cut orchids live for about three weeks if you care for them well. Change the water in the vase every two days, and recut 1/8 inch off the end of the stem every time you do so. Keep the flowers out of direct sunlight, which may scorch the blossoms and leaves if it's too strong. Blossoms on potted or planted orchids may be present for up to six months, as the plant continually produces new flowers.
Orchid plants do not have a finite life span, but after 15 to 20 years, the plants will naturally become weaker, producing fewer blossoms. Plants have a natural immune system, and over time it becomes worn down by natural bacteria and fungi. Repot orchids regularly, once every two or three years, to prevent disease. As aging orchids become more problematic and more prone to disease, you may want to consider replacing the plant.