orchid

How Long Does an Orchid Live- Limited Lifespan or Not for Most Common Species?

Growing Orchids can be quite fun, but how long does an orchid live? Here we are going to talk about orchids’ life cycle, how long do orchids live, and how to encourage growth.

We are also going to talk about the orchid plant itself, and not only the blooms. People usually make the mistake of assuming that when the orchid blooms fall off the Orchid plants are dying as well. That assumption is completely false, the lifespan of the blooms will depend on the type of orchid you have, the environment, and so on. But the Orchids themselves can live indefinitely.

Today we are going to go through some of the orchid types and try to understand them better. There are two types of orchids, monopodial and sympodial. Here, I am going to explain the difference.

how long does an orchid live?

How Long Does an Orchid Live – 2 Types od Orchis

Monopodial Orchids

Phal- how long does an orchid live

This type of Orchid will grow its leaves from the center axis. The leaves will grow from the opposite sides simultaneously following one another.

Because they grow straight up, they need to be potted in the center of the pot. The two most common types of monopodial orchids are Phalaenopsis and Vanda.

  • Because of their characteristic growth pattern, these types of Orchids can’t tolerate drought. They don’t have pseudobulbs (they don’t have water containers), only water storage is its roots and leaves.
  • They can also produce Keikes. In horticulture, a Keiki is a plant produced asexually by an orchid plant, especially Vanda, Epidendrum, and Phalaenopsis orchids.

Sympodial Orchids

Dendrobium orchid - how long does an orchid live

Different from Monopodial, sympodial orchids grow from a more horizontal stem, unlike monopodial that grom from a single vertical stem.

The flower-looking bulbs serve the purpose of storing water.

Unlike monopodial Orchids, this type of orchid can go without water for a long time (until the medium dries) because they have pseudobulbs for water storage. New leaves will grow directly from these pseudobulbs.

Related: How to Water Orchids

  • The horizontal stem that pseudobulbs (pseudobulbs grow from the previous pseudobulbs) grow from is called Rhizome. Roots grow directly from the Rhizome.
  • Sympodial Orchids’ pseudobulbs have a heavy base that holds water. Therefore, you should have a non-soil potting mix (so that all of the excess water can drain quickly). the combination of sphagnum moss shredded bark, perlite, coconut fiber, and even fine gravel should do the trick.
  • There can be a couple of outcomes, the first being that the leaves can be big and long and the pseudobulb can be quite small. The second being that the pseudobulb can be big and thick, then the leaves will be small.

Phalaenopsis Orchid

orchid

Phalaenopsis orchid is what we call monopodium orchid. This means they create a central axis and the leaves grow from each side of the axis.

Throughout this orchid’s life, it produces multiple leaves from the top of its central axis. That is practically her growing pattern.

As the Orchid grows and produces more and more leaves from the top, the bottom leaves might start to shed.

This is natural for this Orchid type, they practically regenerate. So, across their lifespan, they keep producing leaves from the top.

Their axis will continue to grow more and more, practically indefinitely. Therefore, throughout its life, it will continue to produce leaves and of course continue to produce roots as well.

So, how long does an orchid live? Theoretically, if good care is provided to this Orchid and it does not get infected by disease or pests that can kill off its structure it will continue to grow and live pretty much indefinitely.

There is however an instance where this orchid might naturally die. Phalaenopsis flower spike emerges from beneath the leaves.

In some cases, you will find these types of Orchids with flower spikes directly from the crown (from the center).

In most cases when this happens the orchid will not continue to grow. This will happen because it won’t have the space in the center that she needs to produce leaves.

However, this Orchid can continue to live on. Two things might happen, the first being that it will try to produce a Keiki from the actual flower spike or it will try to produce a Keiki from somewhere on its stem (a basal Keiki).

Therefore, even if the mother plant dies, it will actually continue to live through its Keikis (or better said, its babies).

How to grow Phalaenopsis Orchids

Most often these plants are grown as indoor potted plants. They shouldn’t be exposed to direct sunlight or their leave will scorch.

This type can tolerate low light and it can grow at the east-facing window.

These orchid flowers (blossoms) can last a long period of time with proper care. The soil for this plant must mimic its native habitat.

Related: Best Soil for Orchids

In their native habitat (being tropical plants) moth orchids grow on trees. Therefore, instead of regular soil, you will need potting soil that mimics a host tree or it comes from one.

In the growth period (from a few months to a year) water the plant weekly and during the orchid bloom period you are going to do that every other week.

Related: Orchid Leaves Turning Yellow

These orchids are considered warm houseplants. Best suitable temperature for them is between 75 and 85 degrees. Normal house temperature, such as 70 degrees can also suit them.

Ceiling Fans can also help your Orchids thrive, with higher humidity and temperature comes the need for a fluent airflow. This will prevent orchid roots and fungus diseases.

To help you out, here is the ultimate guide to orchid care.

Vanda Orchid

Vanda orchid

Vanda is another monopodial Orchid and maybe this example is a little easier to understand than the Phalaenopsis orchid.

The central axis is quite tall on these Orchids, and the leaves growth is seen better because of the main structure of this Orchid.

This particular orchid can grow to be very tall and will continue to grow thought its life. The bottom leaves will start to shed, but at the same time, more leaves will emerge from the top.

Therefore, if your question is- How long does an orchid live (this one in particular)? Then the answer is- This orchid’s life cycle can as well be indefinite as long as it grows.

If somehow due to natural reasons it dies, it can create a baby plant somewhere on its axis (thus practically continuing to live).

How to grow Vanda Orchids

This plant can bloom several times a year. Orchids’ bloom can be in a variety of colors.

As I mentioned this plant grows from thick bulbs, it’s mostly used as an indoor plant because of its low tolerance to cold temperature.

Depending on the type you have, this orchid depends on direct sunlight while the other type will need partial shade and protection from bright light (indirect sunlight will be good).

How to determine the type

1. strap-leaved: as the name says (needs partial shade and shelter from direct sunlight)

2. terete: has a round pencil-shaped leaf (needs bright light and high sun)

3. semi-terete: somewhere in between (needs bright light and high sun)

These plants need a humid environment (80% humidity). The repotting period is around every 3 to 5 years and should be fertilized only during the growth period. Do not fertilize while the flowering cycle is in process or the initial bloom will not happen.

Related: 8 Best Fertilizers for Orchids

Cattleya Orchid

Cattleya Orchid

This orchid type is called the symposium Orchid. As I mentioned above this type of Orchid does not produce a central axis. They actually grow from new pseudobulbs.

It might seem that they are different plants, but actually, they are not. They are just different structures of the same plant.

Once a pseudobulb, which is a structure of this plant, stops growing it will start to produce a new chute which will grow.

Practically, throughout its life, this Orchid will continue to produce these pseudobulbs.

In some cases, the old portion of the plant can die off but the plant will continue to live because it has this continuous growth.

Therefore, the answer to our question: how long does an orchid live- in this case, is that this lovely Orchid can live indefinitely. Throughout its life, it will continue to multiply like that and become larger and larger.

If anything bad doesn’t happen to the plant it can actually live for a hundred years.

How to grow Cattleya orchid

In order to grow and flower well, this plant from the orchid family will need a light that is not intense.

The early morning sun is crucial, the right location would be to place your plant on the south or east window with light shading.

The best suitable daily temperature range is around 75 degrees and at night should be around 10 degrees less. The lower night temperature will help with producing flower buds (during the blooming season).

The humidity levels shouldn’t be very high with this type, somewhere around 50-55 %. Water this plant every week (but have in mind just as any other plants this too should never stand in water).

This type should be watered when the soil feels dry all the way to the bottom of the pot.

When the flowers bloom they can last up to 6 weeks. When the blooming begins, you should water them more. Therefore, beautiful flowers can emerge.

Catasetum Orchid

Catasetum Orchid

Here, we have a sympodial Orchid with a deciduous nature. This means that once a year it will lose its leaves. Practically it will look dead, but again this Orchid will not die even if it loses its leaves.

It will go in a sort of dormancy, but once spring comes it will start to produce another pseudobulb. It’s going to be the very same plant, that is just its growth pattern.

Thus, it will continue to do this throughout the years and practically this orchid, with good care, can live indefinitely.

How to grow Carasetum Orchid

This orchid type needs strong light, be sure to secure enough sunlight (especially when the growth period is finishing).

Hot tropical areas are this orchid’s home. Thus, temperatures of around 90 degrees during the day and around 60 degrees during nighttime are most suitable.

As the formation of the leaves is beginning, the watering should be havier so that the pseudobulbs can store a large quantity of water.

When the pseudobulbs form watering should be lessened. When the leaves start to drop, the resting period begins and the watering should stop.

When new growth begins, watering begins as well. Humidity should be around 50 %.

Habenaria Orchids

Habenaria Orchids

Here, we have a special type of Orchid. This Orchid falls under terrestrial orchids that have an annual growth habit.

It really resembles, let’s say tulips, in its growth pattern. So, once a year it will grow leaves, it will grow a stem, and it will be blooming.

But once winter comes, this orchid plant dies off entirely. However, this plant multiples through tubers.

So, what happens is that during the growth period it will create new tubers. Therefore, the next year these new tubers will actually give birth to another set of orchid plants and the new life cycle will begin.

So, if you give it a thought, even if the plant does die, it doesn’t actually cease its life cycle completely because it will continue to live on through its “babies”.

How to grow Habenaria Orchids

This plant needs moderate shade and should never be exposed to direct sunlight (be sure to ensure it has enough indirect sunlight). Air movement in this orchid home is a key factor also, thus make sure to have constant air movement.

When it comes to watering, throughout the process of growing it should be watered well. But have in mind that roots should never be soaked.

When the growing cycle is reaching its end and the blooming begins, watering should be greatly reduced. Humidity levels should be around 75% in the summer and around early spring should drop to 55 %.

When the flowering period is finished and the flowers fall off the plant will go into a state of dormancy. The watering should stop then (keep the soil only moisty). When the growing period starts again so does the watering.

FAQ

1. How long do orchids live?

The lifespan of orchids depends on the type, but mostly your Orchid can live indefinitely as long as it does not catch any pest or diseases. As I said, most Orchids can live indefinitely as long as you give them proper treatment. Just give your plant some natural light (what type of light depends on the type of orchid). Keep the drainage holes in your pot clean so they can remove the excess water and prevent root rot. Indirect light or filtered sunlight is good for them. Just care for them and then you can proudly call your plants happy.

2. How often do Orchids bloom?

Growing orchids can be quite fun, but everyone wants to see those flowers emerging. Most orchids bloom once a year, but that can vary, if the plant is happy it might have blooms more than once. When the flowering happens it will be blooming for up to 10 weeks.

Conclusion

Now, in the end, I will actually state the obvious, and tell you that orchids will live as long as they don’t die. Meaning, as long as the main structure of the plant remains healthy, your Orchids should be good for a long time.

I really hope I shed some light on the subject and I know there is some information cruising on the internet that says”Orchids in a home environment have limited lifespan”. This is completely not true, as long as you give proper care to your plant your Orchid plants can leave for several decades.