The Secret To Martha Stewart's Thriving Orchid Collection Is All In The Lighting

Orchids have a reputation for putting on cascades of beautiful blooms that can brighten up any home or office. Unfortunately, they're also known for being a bit finicky in the care department. As it turns out, though, successfully caring for indoor orchids may be easier than you think. That's especially true if you follow some straightforward advice from Martha Stewart, the queen of the greenhouse. What does it take to grow a healthy orchid? The right lighting does wonders.

"Rule of thumb – orchids that receive a proper balance of light, humidity and temperature will have healthy bright green leaves. Too little light would make the leaves very dark," Stewart shares on her blog. An article on Stewart's website also taps the knowhow of gardening expert Melinda Myers for more advice on the light needs of orchids. She suggests placing them in a window facing east or west with indirect sunlight. This should produce the healthy green leaves you want for your orchid plants instead of those with pinkish or red-looking edges when they get too much light. Don't have a window worthy of your orchids? You can also grow them under artificial lighting.

Growing orchids with artificial lighting

There are times when the windows in a home or apartment just aren't going to provide the right type of indirect sunlight orchids need to grow. That's okay, because you can successfully induce healthy orchid leaves and blooms with artificial lighting. The American Orchid Society suggests using broad-spectrum fluorescent tubes that are either 48 inches (40 watts) or 96 inches (74 watts) long for this purpose. Placing this type of lighting within a shelving unit or above growing racks works, or you could consider under cabinet lighting and try growing them in your kitchen in a spot that doesn't get overly hot. 

When installing fluorescent lighting for your orchids, it needs to be fairly close to where they'll be sitting in order to provide adequate brightness. You'll also need to make sure that there's enough room below it for your orchids to have good air circulation as well as room to get in there and water them. Also keep in mind that you might need to add flower spikes as your orchids start blooming, so save a little extra space for those, too. The American Orchid Society spaces them 12 inches above their plants in their office, so that's a good rule of thumb to follow. They also note that having them on for at least 16 hours per day is an average recommendation among orchid growers using artificial light. With a modest investment and a little experimentation, even if you don't have a sunny window, you can grow beautiful potted orchid plants that will live for years.