Ornery Orchids

There are a lot of misconceptions about orchids, including that they are super difficult to grow. Hopefully this article will help dispel those myths! 

Placement: It is not uncommon to find tags that read “put in light shade”, or “keep away from direct sun.” This can be easily misinterpreted. You may place your orchid in a beautiful location on your dining room table while in bloom, but it will not thrive there for long. Those instructional tags really should read, “Place in bright sunlight! Just keep out of the heat!”  Orchid leaves should be bright green. If new leaves appear dark and small compared to the original greenhouse grown leaves, your plant is not getting enough sunlight. East windows and large north windows are perfect for orchids. If west or south windows are what you have to work with, don’t fret. Use a curtain to defuse the light, or keep your orchid a bit back from the window during the hottest parts of the summer. The plant’s leaves should always feel cool to the touch. If they are hot, then they are burning. Sunburn may appear in the form of dry or blackened patches on the leaves, and flowers may prematurely wither and fall off. No worries! Orchids are very forgiving, and you’ll be surprised how well they can bounce back! Grow lights are also wonderful for those dark apartments. 

Over watering is by far the number one killer of orchids. Just because orchids are tropical house plants doesn’t mean they want a ton of water! While orchids do get the morning dew or even a shower nearly every day in the jungle, a brisk breeze has them nearly completely dry by the night. Mimic this by watering with luke-warm water only when the center of pot is dry. When in doubt, leave it out, is my motto. They are not cacti though, so don’t leave them dry. Generally, water once a week if planted in bark, and every ten days or so if planted in moss. Make sure that there is excellent drainage! Never let them sit in water!

Fertilizer: Orchids will bloom without, but flowers are small and few. Sometimes it is a couple years between blooms, but with fertilizer, you’ll get more bang for your buck! I recommend liquid fertilizer at ½ strength every other watering. You’ll get bigger blooms, more of them, and more consistently.

Humidity will keep flowers lasting longer and leaves from twisting and splitting. Simply place the plant onto an over turned bowl or a cookie cooling grid balanced over a tray of water. This is not to water the plant, just to provide humidity to the undersides of the leaves as the water evaporates.   

Follow these few steps and an orchid can be a re-blooming gift for you for years (and yes, I mean years!) to come!

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