Orchids in the Desert

Orchids in the Desert

150 150 jcharlow


When most people think of orchids, they usually picture a lush and humid rain forest.  It seems inconceivable to be able to grow these exotic plants in a desert environment without going into debt with the local water company.  In fact, growing orchids in the desert is a possibility as long as a few things are kept in mind.  All points below depend on variety of orchid:


Light and Location

Make sure there is enough light for orchids to bloom.  The location should be in an area that has good air circulation, but do not put them in the direct draft of a cooler or heater.


There are different thoughts in this area.  Some growers like to feed a little bit, often.  Some like to feed a little heavier, less often.  Whichever way you choose, make sure you are consistent.


Consistency with water is also important.  For most orchids, they are usually happy with once-a-week, thorough watering.  However, it will depend on variety of orchid, potting material, humidity, and temperature.  Every one of these, with the exception of variety, is adjustable.  The general rule is “Do not let roots dry to the point of shriveling” and “Do not let the orchid sit in water for extended periods of time.”

Potting Material

Again, it depends on variety.  Normally, orchids are grown in a mixture of bark and pumice.  The size of the median depends on size and variety of orchid.  When in doubt, try to match what it is already growing in when you re-pot.

Pests and Desease

These can be controlled in many ways.  One of the easiest is to use Orthenex Systemic.  The plants take up this chemical and fight the insects and diseases from the inside out.  There are more organic methods, as well.  Neem oil will take care of both insects and disease.  Be careful to not spray the flowers or buds if they are blooming.  Regular rubbing alcohol with a Q-tip is also effective if you are dealing with a small infestation of most insects.  When re-potting an orchid, I like to do a drench with Physan to help prevent any disease, especially bacterial rot.

Some of the easier orchids to grow in Tucson include:

  • Phalenopsis
  • Dendrobiums
  • Cymbidiums
  • Oncidiums
  • Cattleya

Please remember that these guidelines are simply general information.  Conditions vary from plant to plant and location to location.  Watch your plants closely until you get to know their needs.


Harlow Gardens
5620 E. Pima Street
Tucson, AZ 85712

  • Do you carry a variety of orchid plants…like the ones you mention as being easy? I’m looking for a fragrant orchid.

  • Hello Dianne,
    Unfortunately, we do not carry orchids. We recommend you go to Trader Joes. They usually have a great selection at a great price.

    Thank you,

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