Choosing a Healthy Orchid

Blooms Choosing a plant with flowers on it will give you an idea what season it blooms in and lets you know the plant is mature. Look for uniform color and shape. Splotches and streaks may be indications of a virus that you shouldn't take home.

Even if a plant is blooming when you buy it, be patient with it. The shock of going from a garden center to the typical home may cause an orchid to skip a season before it performs again. Don't get frustrated and throw it out, and don't take it personally. It's worth the wait.

Leaves The same principles apply as when buying any plant. Look for medium-green, uniformly shaped and colored leaves with no black spots or streaks.

Insects Greenhouse-grown plants are more susceptible to insects than home-grown ones. Don't buy infested plants why take home trouble?

Roots Look for white, fat roots with healthy green tips poking through the potting medium.

Potting medium Some discount stores sell orchids planted in potting soil covered with a layer of bark. Soil will smother and eventually kill roots. So don't be fooled. Stick your finger in the mix to test it. It should be all bark and not soggy, but firm and damp or dry.