Basics, Intermediate English, Listening, Pre-Intermediate Level English, Speaking, Writing

How to Care for Orchids ( Pre-Intermediate Level)

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English Teacher Chloe first came across Orchids when she and her student Neida, went to Rio de Janeiro’s Botanical Gardens. There was an Orchid Exhibition on at the time so both of them decided to have their English lesson there. Not only are Orchids a tropical plant and are a very popular house plant all over the world but they have the reputation of being notoriously (very) difficult to look after (take care of). So, to help you learn English and care for your Orchids, we’ve put this lesson together for you.

How To Care For Orchids

Key Information: Orchids are Epiphytes

An epiphyte is an organism that grows on the surface of a plant and derives its moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, water (in marine environments) or from debris accumulating around it.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Getting familiar with this vocabulary before watching the video really helps

  • Notoriously difficult – the difficulty of the task is of a very high level
  • To look after something is the same as to take care of something
  • Soil or earth is what plants and grass usually grow out of
  • Potting Media is what you put around the roots of a house plant in a pot to hold moisture
  • Roots are like legs that don’t walk for plants
  • To cling to or to stick to something


Watch the video as many times as you need to get the answer. Teacher Chloe suggests either using your phone’s voice recording app if you want to improve your speaking or writing the answers down if better written English is your goal. All the answers to this task are below the photo gallery!

  1. Why are Orchids not planted in soil (earth)? (0:40)
  2. What potting media is recommended for Orchids? (0:56)
  3. Why are clear plastic pots preferred? (1:25 & 1:50)
  4. What is the main problem with using ceramic pots with Orchids? (1:38)
  5. What are the 2 main causes of root rot? (2:40)
  6. When do you know an Orchid needs watering? (3:20)


What this video on how to make ventilation holes for orchids in plastic pots then describe how to do it using your own words. It’s always a good idea to record your answers using your phone’s voice recording app and listen back, you might be able to find a couple of mistakes yourself!


TIP: If you’re not very good with technology look for one of these icons on your smart phone – it will be your voice recording app



Writing Task

You are going on holiday and a friend has offered to look after your dog / cat / orchid while you are away. Write them a letter to tell them how to look after your pet or plant. When you are finished please be brave and post it in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

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Pictures from our trip to the Botanical Gardens in Rio de Janeiro


Don’t forget to leave us a quick comment or share your writing answers in the comments box below.


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Listening Answers

  1. Orchids grow attached to tree trunks so they need ventilation around their roots. Planting them in soil kills them.
  2. Bark chips with or without mixes of coconut husk, charcoal or sphagnum moss. Never use a mix containing Peat Moss as it suffocates the roots.
  3. Clear pots show root development, when they need more moisture and allow early detection of root rot. Clear pots also allow Orchid roots to photosynthesise.
  4. Orchid roots really cling to ceramic pots which leads to broken off roots when re-potting.
  5. Suffocation of the roots and the media staying too moist for too long.
  6. When it’s roots look silvery or grey in colour



  • Hi everyone, don’t be shy, post your writing task down here and I’ll have a look at it for you. Go ahead, give it a try!

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