So you’ve got an Orchid, Now what? Like many, you saw an orchid at the store, you were drawn into its beauty immediately, but when you got it home you realized that you may have bought the problem child of plants. Sure, orchids are finicky, and their care may seem a bit daunting, but you need not fear—we have some helpful tips that will keep your orchid alive and well.
There are nearly 30,000 species of orchids grown on six continents around the world. To say they are a diverse plant would be an understatement. But that’s part of its charm and beauty; they are all fabulous when in bloom.
As with any plant, the best way to care for it is to know exactly what plant you have. If you don’t already know which type of orchid you own consider checking out this handy chart from the Orchid Society: http://oregonorchidsociety.org/cultivation.
One of the most important parts of caring for your orchid is proper watering.
First let’s dispel a popular myth about watering orchids. You should not use ice cubes to water your orchid. Orchids are tropical plants and we want to imitate their natural habitat as closely as possible.
Watering You Orchid
Sadly, most orchids meet their fate due to overwatering. Constant wetness will cause the roots of the plant to rot. Root rot means that the plant can no longer collect the nutrients it needs from its soil. The leaves begin to droop, and eventually the plant will die. The best way to water an orchid is to water it the day before the soil dries out. If you aren’t sure about this then it is better to let the plant go completely dry before watering again.
Helpful Tip: Use a wooden skewer to help determine when an orchid needs watering. Simply stick the end of a wooden skewer into the soil. If the wood darkens from moisture then you don’t need to water the plant. However, if the skewer remains dry you know it’s time to water your orchid.
Feeding Your Orchid
Many people decide to feed their orchids. We recommend a using a fertilizer such as a 20-20-20. If you don’t know what that means then don’t worry about it. You can use almost any fertilizer that you would use on your other container plans. For best results orchids should be fed weekly. You can do this by diluting 1/4th strength fertilizer each time you water.
Repotting Your Orchid
It’s important to remember that your orchid will need to be repotted. Potting mix breaks down over time and for your plant to stay healthy it needs to have new soil introduced into the roots. This may not require you to move the plant into a larger container. If the roots of the plant haven’t outgrown the original container then you are fine to simply repot with fresh soil. However, if the roots have outgrown the container or they appear to be running out of space you may want to go ahead and transplant the orchid to a new, larger container.
Remember, just because your orchid is a tropical plant that doesn’t necessarily mean you can leave it in full sun all of the time. Too much direct sunlight can cause the leaves to sunburn.
We recommend keeping your orchid near a south-facing window. East- and west-facing windows are too cool for part of the day and too hot for the rest of the day. North-facing windows typically don’t get enough sun.
Helpful Tip: Leaf color can help you determine more about whether or not your plant is getting the correct amount of light. The dark green color of most of your other houseplants isn’t desirable for your orchid. A healthy orchid should have leaves that are the color of grass.
Many times the reason that your orchid plant won’t re-bloom is due to insufficient lighting. If your orchid hasn’t bloomed in awhile you may want to try giving it more sunlight.
Of course, our favorite way of displaying orchids is, by placing them inside of a terrarium. A few of the types of orchids that will do well in the humid environment of a terrarium are Paphiopedilum: miniature Phalaenopsis; Masdevallia and other Pleurothallids: Jewel orchids: and Miniature Angraecum species and hybrids.
Most likely you will want to pair your orchid with other plants—so consider small ferns, ivy, or begonias. Personally, we like small ferns as they make for a really great contrast to the tall and lanky Orchid.
For more tips on orchid care or anything to do with terrariums feel free to contact us.