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How to Grow Orchids

Orchids are a perfect plant for your home or office because they don’t need a lot of light, water, or nutrients – just someone who knows how to deal with their delicate nature!

Okay, so orchids aren’t that delicate, but you have to know a few things about these unusual & beautiful epiphytes!

What is an Epiphyte? Epiphytes are plants that grow on other plants, but they are not parasitic. Plants in this group include air plants & orchids as well as some ferns and bromeliads.

Light – needs sufficient light. Leaves should be lighter green, almost yellowish tint – should not be dark green. Dark green foliage is an indication that your orchids are not getting enough light.

Air – select a growing site that has some air movement that mimics an orchid’s natural environment.

Media – orchids are epiphytes – that is the botanical term for “air plant”. This means that orchids don’t need soil to grow, but they grow on other plants or objects for physical support, they are not parasitic.

Water – watering orchids weekly should be enough to keep them healthy. Allow the media to dry out between watering – this will keep the orchid watered, while preventing fungus or disease to develop.

Fertilizer – orchids aren’t heavy feeders, so you won’t have to fertilize as often as you would other plants, like tomatoes, which are heavy feeders. When applying fertilizer, choose a balanced 20-20-20 or similar blend that contains NO urea. The reason for this is that orchids are not grown in soil with the soil-borne organisms necessary to breakdown the urea into a usable form (if you have media with mycorrhizae, you may be okay).

Those are the basics of orchid care – they aren’t delicate, they just need some love from someone who can deal with their strange growing habits and understand their needs. Overall, orchids are fairly low-maintenance, but there will be a time you may need to prune a flower stalk, or you may need to repot an orchid from time to time. Check out my other articles on those topics below – or watch my latest Plant Rant to see how it’s done!

How to Prune Orchids

How to Repot Orchids

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How to Prune Orchids

Now that your Orchids have dropped their flowers, you’re probably wondering, “what did I do wrong?”

This is a natural step in the growing process. The better question to ask is, “what am I supposed to do with this thing now?”

Once your Orchid has dropped its flowers, you have 3 options:

  1. Cut the main stem as close to the base of the plant as possible – This will direct the energy back into the plant & after a few weeks, another flower spike will begin to form.
  2. Cut a centimeter above a plant node – This will encourage the orchid to branch & you could end up with 2-3 branches that will flower.
  3. Leave it alone – I’ve left a spike after the flowers have dropped & have seen it re-bloom 3-5 more times! Depending on how much energy & nutrition the plant has, it could keep regenerating – but if it doesn’t after a few weeks, try option 1 or 2.

Orchids are certainly an unusual & special plant, but with a little knowledge, they can be tamed & easily taken care of.

For more info – check out my blog on How to Grow & Care for Orchids!

And if you find that your plants are blooming, or looking as healthy as they were when you first got them, maybe it is time to let them stretch their legs by repotting them!