We’re paying homage to Pantone’s color of the year, Radiant Orchid. We thought we’d do so by addressing some frequently asked questions about Orchids. So many of our customers ask us why their Orchids die or never bloom again. Thankfully, Freytag’s has a resident expert who is always on hand to offer orchid care guidance. Here are some of his very simple orchid care basics to help keep your plants healthy, happy and blooming:
Orchids are actually quite hardy. Growing and maintaining these exotic, tropical plants is simple once you understand where they came from and how they naturally thrive. Orchids are air plants with exposed roots that grow attached to trees or rocks in the wild. They come from warm, tropical climates and enjoy the warmth, humidity, and frequent rainfall.
1. Don’t over or under water. How you water is as important as how often. How: Use room temperature water. Subtle differences in temperature can be tolerated by healthy plants. Serious harm, not visible at first, can result from using water that is too cold. Thoroughly dampen the roots and let the water completely drain from the pot. Do not let the plant sit in water. When: Water when the plant’s potting medium is almost completely dry, but not quite. Even when the surface of your pot is dry, the root area remains moist. The potting medium should be kept damp, but not soggy—neither should it be allowed to get extremely dry. Based on this, most likely you will water once a week to every other week, depending on your local climate.
2. Use proper potting medium and pot. Orchid’s roots need good air flow. Without it, roots cannot breathe, and the plant quickly dies. Use Orchid Bark and Sphagnum Moss. Never use actual potting soil. Orchid pots are not necessary, but they do have holes that help with airflow.
3. Temperature and sun. Orchids like humidity and do best in brightly lit spots with indirect sunlight. South facing windows are ideal as they provide a full day of sunshine. Optimum daytime temp is around 85 degrees and a nighttime temp of 68 degrees. You can increase the humidity by setting the orchid pot on a tray of pebbles with pot resting on the pebbles just above the water, not sitting in it.
4. Feed your Orchids. Orchids need food as much as they need water. Orchids in a pot do not receive the same nutrients as they would in their natural habitat. Therefore, they need special food in between watering. There are different types of food for different cycles of the plants life. Flowering plants need Potassium (K) and more Nitrogen is needed to grow new shoots. We recommend fertilizing every week at one-quarter-strength. You can also put a few drops of fertilizer in a water bottle and mist the unopened buds once a week. This will encourage the last few unopened buds on the stalk to bloom.
Follow these simple steps, mimic the conditions of their natural habitat and enjoy beautiful orchid plants that will reward you with blooms year after year.
Quite possibly the most informative and entertaining Orchid enthusiast: www.Orchidkarma.com
American Orchid Society: www.aos.org
Orchid Species Photo encyclopedia (IOSPE): www.orchidspecies.com