It is not as hard as many people think to grow orchids and keep them healthy. If you follow a few simple steps, you should have no trouble. Here are 7 ways to guarantee your orchids will be healthy and happy.
1. Provide Sufficient Lighting
Orchids should receive on average ten hours of medium light every day. If you’re growing them in your home, a window exposed to the south is an excellent choice. Windows facing north usually do not give or receive enough light and those to the east or west have too few hours of good light. In the summer, you may need to use drapes to defuse light that is too bright.
2. No Sudden Temperature Changes
Orchids don’t have very much flexibility at all for temperatures which have sudden fluctuations. If you are growing your orchids outside in the garden, temperature is going to be critical to whether you have healthy flowering orchids or not. If a front should come through and raise or drop the temperatures by ten degrees, the orchids may not survive. This sudden change in temperature can upset their cycle of growth, cause anemia and allow them to acquire diseases, such as rot. Make sure you only purchase orchids which can do well in your location and that you grow them inside if there is often rapidly changing weather.
3. Select Orchids Which do Best in the Temperatures you can Provide
Do some homework before purchasing orchids. Different species of orchids have very specific temperature ranges. Don’t try to grow an orchid that needs 80-to-90-degree daytime temperatures if you do not have that temperature range each day where you live. Orchids grow everywhere from the tropics to snow-covered peaks. Know in advance the requirements of the orchid you purchase and stick to these, whether inside or outdoors.
4. Keep Your Orchids Clean
If you are one of those people who can go weeks without cleaning your house, you may not have the right personality for growing orchids. To be healthy and thriving, orchids need to be clean. In their natural environment, which in most cases is tropical, orchids are cleaned daily by rain showers which get rid of dust and insects. You should wipe the dust and dirt off your orchids at least once a week.
Occasionally, you should combine several drops of vegetable oil emulsion insecticide (not mineral oil) with a pint of lukewarm water and sponge it onto the orchid foliage. It will give the plant a polished look and protect it from pest damage.
5. Fertilize Orchids Appropriately
Manures are the most dangerous orchid fertilizers to use and often the most used. If you are a beginner, you might want to try other fertilizers first. Overall, the best fertilizers to use are liquid: manure water, commercial concentrates, and nutrient solutions.
Manure water is made by putting two cups of ground manure into a gallon jug and then letting it sit for a week or so. Then you should dilute it even more by pouring one-fourth cup from the jug into a quart of water. This solution is to be carefully poured at the edge of the pot and should not come in contact with foliage, pseudo bulbs or rhizomes.
There are many synthetic fertilizers you can buy for orchids and you can also make nutrient mixes, the recipes of which have been handed down from gardener to gardener through the years.
6. Do Not Over-Water Orchids
An over-watered orchid is going to become sick and die. On the other hand, occasionally forgetting to water an orchid will rarely result in sickness or death. When an orchid’s roots are healthy and dry, they will be white. Check frequently to make sure your orchids do not have green roots, as that is an indication of over-watering. Other indications of over-watering are growing scum, moss, or weeds.
7. Repot your Orchids When Necessary
This is the scariest step of all for most new orchid gardeners, but orchids do need to be repotted if the plants are too large for the pot or if the compost is worn out or too alkaline. Leaving an orchid in old compost is worse for it than disturbing the roots. Repot with care and your orchids should suffer no ill effects.
Mary Ann Berdak is the publisher of OrchidCareZone.com an online destination for orchid growing tips and advice. For more information including a free report on The 5 Biggest Orchid Mistakes and How to Avoid Them visit OrchidCareZone.com.