Caring for Orchids Over-Wintering and Resting

Winter brings a unique challenge for orchid enthusiasts. It’s a time when these exotic beauties enter a phase of rest, a critical period that demands special attention. Understanding the nuances of over-wintering is key to ensuring your orchids not only survive but thrive during these colder months.

Key Takeaways

  • Orchids enter a minimal growth phase in winter, and each species has unique resting needs. Understanding this rest cycle is crucial for their health.
  • Creating a cooler area in the greenhouse or orchid house mimics the orchid’s native climate, aiding in their resting process.
  • While young orchids require consistent watering, those with pseudo-bulbs or tubers need a drier rest period in winter.
  • Different orchid types, like Dendrobium and Odontoglossum, have specific resting requirements, with some needing more moisture than others.
  • Lowering the temperature and adjusting watering frequency in the greenhouse during winter helps simulate natural conditions for orchids’ rest.

The Art of Orchid Resting

Orchids Over-Wintering
The Art of Orchid Resting

Orchids, like many living things, have a natural cycle of growth and rest. During winter, they enter a resting phase, marked by minimal root and top growth.

This period varies greatly among different orchid species, making a one-size-fits-all approach ineffective. For instance, while some species in the same genus may require distinct care, others might share similar needs.

Creating the Ideal Resting Environment

A cooler section in your greenhouse or orchid house can serve as the perfect resting spot. This mimics the orchid’s native climate, which often alternates between dry and warm or cool conditions.

However, not all orchids should be rested. Species without pseudo-bulbs or tubers, such as the Slipper Orchid (Paphiopedilum) and Masdevallias, remain somewhat active year-round due to their lack of storage facilities.

Watering Wisdom: Striking the Right Balance

Orchids Over-Wintering
Rows of Young Seedling Orchid Plants Attached to Wooden Planks

Young seedlings, which haven’t flowered yet, require consistent watering throughout the year, with adjustments made for weather variations. In contrast, orchids with pseudobulbs or tubers, like many Cattleyas and Laelia, need a drier and longer winter rest. Watch for signs of excessive shriveling in pseudo-bulbs, which can indicate a need for more moisture.

Special Cases: Dendrobiums and Odontoglossums

Dendrobium orchids, particularly the Dendrobium nobile and Dendrobium wardianum types, demand a more pronounced rest compared to their evergreen counterparts. Odontoglossums, on the other hand, should not be rested in the same manner as Cattleyas, requiring a consistent level of moisture.

Managing Greenhouse Conditions

orchid Managing Greenhouse Conditions
Managing Greenhouse Conditions

A lower temperature in your orchid house or greenhouse during winter can help simulate natural resting conditions. The key is to monitor and adjust the frequency of watering carefully. Over-resting can lead to soft, weak growths, detrimental to the orchid’s health.


As winter approaches, remember that resting is as vital to your orchids as the blooming season. By creating the right environment and adjusting your care routine, you can ensure that your orchids emerge from their winter slumber stronger and ready to bloom.

So, take this time to observe, adjust, and appreciate the unique beauty of orchids in rest. Your patience and attention will be rewarded with vibrant blooms when spring arrives.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can over-wintering affect an orchid’s blooming cycle?

Yes, proper over-wintering is crucial for a healthy blooming cycle. Insufficient rest can lead to stress and poor blooming. Conversely, a well-rested orchid is more likely to produce vibrant and abundant flowers. The rest phase allows the orchid to accumulate energy for blooming. It’s a key part of the orchid’s annual growth cycle.

How do I know if my orchid is in its resting phase?

An orchid in its resting phase shows minimal growth. You’ll notice less new leaf or root development, and blooming will cease. This typically occurs in winter, aligning with the orchid’s natural habitat conditions. The plant’s overall appearance may seem stagnant, but this is a normal part of its cycle. Observing these signs helps you adjust care accordingly.

Do all orchids require the same winter care?

No, winter care varies among orchid species. Some, like Phalaenopsis, require minimal changes, while others, like Cattleyas, need a more pronounced rest. Research your specific orchid type to understand its unique needs. Factors like watering, temperature, and light vary depending on the species. Tailoring care to each type ensures optimal health during winter.

What should I do as winter ends to encourage blooming?

Gradually increase watering and resume fertilization as winter ends. Move the orchid back to its regular spot if it was relocated for the cooler temperature. Ensure it receives adequate light. Watch for signs of new growth as a cue to adjust care. This transition prepares the orchid for its upcoming growth and blooming phase.

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