1. Buy mature blooming size plants
Mature plants are stronger than younger seedlings and may be more forgiving of mistakes, especially if you are a beginner. They may cost a little more, but they will also bloom sooner than seedlings and give you the encouragement, and experience, that you need to grow younger plants.
2. Buy orchids that can grow in your conditions.
Choose plants that are best-suited to your growing environment to avoid disappointment. For example, cooler growing orchids will not do well in South Florida. Phalaenopsis (moth orchids) is probably the best genera for beginners. Mottled-leaved paphiopedilums are also an excellent choice for lower-light conditions. If you have a sunny window, dendrobiums or oncidium orchids would be good choices.
3. Be honest about the conditions you can provide .
If an orchid requires several hours of full sun, indirect light will not do. If it needs 70% or more humidity, placing it in the bathroom will not help. Remember, if you have to struggle to provide special conditions for your orchids, neither you, nor your plants will be happy. Many orchids are best suited to a greenhouse, not a windowsill. With time and experience, you'll be able to create the right environment for a range of orchids.
4. Buy Only From Reputable Growers
There is nothing wrong with orchids from the grocery store or garden
center, as long as you purchase plants that are healthy and robust. For more exotic orchids there are numerous online orchid suppliers who will ship plants to you. When you are first trying a new grower purchase only a small order to assess the quality of plants. Also be careful of prices that are extremely low-you get what you pay for.
5. Choose Your Plants Carefully
Carefully choose your plant by examining it closely before purchase:
* Leaves and bulbs should be turgid and firm.
* Leaves should be uniformly green-light green is fine. Some orchids, especially oncidium types such as 'Sharry Baby' can develop small black spots on the leaves that are no cause for concern.
* Plants should be firm in their pots, not wobbly or loose.
* If there are roots emerging from the pot/stem, these should be firm and white with healthy green tips.
* The potting mix should be moist. If it is wet and decaying, or bone dry, choose another plant.
* If plants are in bloom, it is best to buy one with about half its flowers open and the rest in bud. This will assure you of flower longevity.
* Don't be tempted to buy the plant with the most flowers if is not in good health overall. These plants often go downhill after a heavy blooming.