Caring for Orchids

Caring for Orchids

Grow beautiful orchids by providing indirect light, proper fertilizer, humidity and moisture.

 

Elegant and captivating, orchids (Orchidaceae) are a pure delight to have in the home and indoor garden. The many varieties produce a myriad of colors, shapes and patterns that amaze and delight. However, this special perennial plant does require some special care. Orchids bloom best inside and require repotting, fertilization and pruning in order to continue flowering over the years. With a little careful consideration, enjoying the beauty of the orchid is a very achievable dream.

Orchids are tropical plants and, therefore prefer lots of water, humidity and warm temperatures. If your home is not very humid, misting the leaves and keeping the soil moist, but not soggy, will help the orchid to thrive. Grouping orchids in with other house plants will also increase humidity. Proper light is also essential: too much will cause leaves to yellow and wilt; too little will prevent blooms from appearing. Place the orchid near a sunny window so that it gets plenty of indirect light and warmth.

You can fertilize with orchid-specific plant food and follow the package directions, which will give the orchid the proper balance of the major nutrients to keep it healthy and growing. A basic plant food can also be used, in smaller quantities than you would for other plants. Generally speaking, fertilize orchids once a month for optimum growth and flowering.

It is important to repot orchids from time to time, for continued growth and bloom. To repot, gently remove the entire plant from its former home, carefully removing any dead root material that may be present. Place the orchid in a pot just one size larger than its previous one; a large, new pot would be a difficult adjustment. Orchid potting mix is mostly bark so be sure to fill in the new pot with the proper mix, pressing firmly on the top to secure the roots.

The main attraction with orchids is their delicate, lovely blooms. The number one concern is how to get more flowers, for a longer time. Light plays a vital role in getting orchids to bloom. Strong, indirect light is needed. If a window is not sufficient, an overhead grow-light is a great option. Remove dead flowers, as they fade, and cut the dead stalk back to just a few inches above the base of the stalk, when the plant has dried up and yellowed. It will come back, even stronger, the next year. Cooler night temperatures (45-55°) will aid in flowering. However, that may be a little cold for most homes. Keeping the orchid near the window will cool it, if the night is chilly.

Phalaenopsis orchids are pruned differently than all other orchids in order for them to re-bloom. Mature plants can bloom twice in one year by cutting the stem off one inch above the top node. This will leave the lower portion of the stem and encourage a new flower shoot to bloom from one of the nodes below the cut.

With a little knowledge and careful attention, anyone can grow beautiful orchids in their home. Orchids just need what we all need: water, food and room to grow!