A friend of mine jokes that she's a terrible gardener, one who can kill a plant just walking past it at the store. But she loves flowers and wants to grow them, so the best gift to give her is a plant that's beautiful, long lasting, and tough as nails: an orchid.
Their delicate beauty hides a strength that's perfect for those whose hearts are green but thumbs are brown. If you've been given an orchid this year, the secret to success is location, location, location. And a little bit of fertilizer.
In winter, the best light for orchids is within 2 feet of a window. Because our sun is intense even in winter, avoid burned leaves by making sure sunlight doesn't fall directly on the leaves if it's in a south or west-facing window.
Orchids like the same temperatures humans do, but just like people, within the orchid family some plants prefer cool, warm or intermediate conditions. My spouse would get along great with cool or intermediate-growing types, such as cymbidiums (cool), cattleyas and dendrobiums (intermediate); they prefer nighttime temperatures of 55 degrees. I, whose teeth chatter when temperatures plunge below 65 degrees, love warm growers, like Phalaenopsis, which need 60 to 65 degree nights.
All orchids need a difference between day and night temperatures, so place cool and intermediate types in a room that warms to 70 degrees during the day, and warm types in areas getting a toasty 75 degrees. Be sure they're not placed over heaters or vents from the furnace; too much warmth and the orchids dry out, dropping leaves or slowing growth.