Orchids are fascinating flowers that are fun to nurture but do need some special care. These slow growing plants are best grown indoors and will need to be repotted every other year. In addition to repotting, you will need to provide the plant with enough light, water and fertilization as well as prune it properly to keep it in the best of health.
Orchids should be repotted in a pot that is larger then the current, but not too much larger – go just one size up. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can repot into a really huge pot and then not have to worry about it for the next 5 years! Fill the pot about 2/3rds of the way with soil that is formulated for orchids and set the plant with the growing tip in the center and it’s roots spread out in the soil. Fill the pot with the rest of the soil and pack it gently around the plant. Water thoroughly.
Tropical orchids thrive in organic material. Fir bark and osumda fiber mixed with peat are great for growing orchids. You need soil that has good drainage but will also hold some moisture. You can buy special orchid mix soil to plant your orchids in.
Orchids like light and your plant will do best in a bright sunny window. A south window, where the plant can get indirect light in the morning and afternoon is best. Make sure the window is not drafty. In the winter you must be sure that your plant is getting enough sunlight and you may want to use fluorescent lighting to supplement the natural sunlight. Fluorescent lights work quite well for growing orchids and you can use them in even the darkest corner and have wonderful plants.
All plants need water but many people do not know how to provide it properly. Some water too much leaving standing water in the pot all day and contributing to root rot. Others don’t water the plant for weeks and wonder why it can not survive. The first consideration is to make sure you use a pot with good drainage – either one of those with a hole in the bottom and a saucer or at least put pebbles under the soil. Water the plant thoroughly but not so much that a pool of water is sitting on the soil – water once a week or when you feel the soil has dried out. If your orchid is planted in bark, then it will probably need to be watered every 5 days or so.
You can also moisten your orchid with a spray bottle to give it a more humid environment. Some people like to gently wrap the plant in a floral paper or wax paper cone and spray inside. The cone helps to keep the moistness in. If you do spray your plant, use distilled water as tap and spring water can leave deposits on the leaves.
Although orchids are tropical plants, they prefer cool temperatures at night. Most orchids will do best in temps that would be to cold for you in your house. When grown in professional greenhouses, they are kept between 55 and 65 degrees at night. The cool temperatures help to keep the soil more moist.
Orchids growing in bark or peat and bark mixes do best with a liquid fertilizer that has a 20-20-20 analysis or, better yet, a specialized orchid fertilizer (30-10-10). Try using a water soluble urea free fertilizer for best results. When fertilizing, simply add it in your regular watering schedule following the instructions on the fertilizer package.
Pruning is important for orchids to remove dead parts and shape your plant. You can prune your orchids periodically throughout the year, or reserve the pruning for once a year typically in the fall or early winter. When the blooms have died and the stalk is dried up and yellow or brown, use sharp shears to cut it back to an inch from where it comes out of the soil. A new bloom will appear during the next blooming season.
In some cases, you may want to just remove the end of the bloom stalk which may cause it to bloom again. If you do this, you may find a new shoot or baby plant to spring up. If this does happen, you can remove the baby and plant it in a separate pot for an additional orchid plant to enjoy!
Lee Dobbins writes for http://orchids.garden-corner.com where you can learn more about caring for orchids
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