Growing plants indoors requires much more than just pots, dirt and water. Growing any plants well requires some sacrifice on the part of the grower: time, effort, money, space and sanity, as many of us discover. It also requires certain supplies and equipment that are requisites for good culture. There are also items that may be considered “frills” but that make good culture much easier by saving you some of the aggravation that comes of being at the mercy of your own growing environment. Other supply items constitute “good habits”; having them handy may require taking up some valuable storage space but the next time an emergency arises you'll be very glad to have the stuff.
Orchid culture has perhaps more than its share of items. Nursery catalogues often feature “supplies pages” with a wide range of things, everything from potting mix to greenhouse fogging units to glass cut-flower tubes. There are several online businesses devoted to orchid supplies.
By their very nature orchids do require some special attention; but many growers and hobbyists find that their plants do very well with just the bare necessities. The perfectionists among us soon enough discover which other items are requisite.
Humidity trays: to hold the potted plants
Humidifiers: to provide the requisite humid atmosphere
Fans: to supply necessary air circulation
Watering equipment (watering can, hoses, etc.)
Rubber gloves and dust mask
Spare bags of potting media
Razor blades and/or sterilizable knife/pruners
Food and First Aid:
Fertilizers: 18-18-18 or 20-20-20 balanced dry fertilizer
Supplements: mineral/vitamin concentrates, seaweed emulsion
Fungicides/bactericides: fresh ground cinnamon
Pesticides: Ivory soap flakes or liquid organic Castille soap to mix in water; Neem oil
straight and ring stakes
needlenose pliers and various gauge wires
Razor blades, clippers and/or a sharp knife
Rubber gloves. Sheets of newspaper
A good way to organize potting supplies is in an easy-to-clean plastic tub, with the bonus of being able to use the lid as a working surface that catches the crumbs of mix.
The mix one chooses should depend on the plant’s preferences -- usually, a fine mix for fine roots that prefer to stay moist, coarser mix for larger plants with larger roots that need to dry out a bit. Packaged mixtures often contain fir bark and/ or coconut husk (both water-retentive), tree fern, perlite and/or charcoal (keep the mix open and shed water quicker). If you have a large collection it may make sense to tailor your own mixes to your exact plants. Soaking mix before use is not necessary; just avoid using the dust at the bottom of the bag, and use a dust mask if you are sensitive. Long-fiber sphagnum moss is recommended for smaller plants, but breaks down quickly because it stays wet. It must be soaked before use; a small plastic container is fine for this.