Orchid Maintenance - Keeping Your Orchids Healthy
Several things come to mind when talking about orchid maintenance and the proper way to care for them. Some of the things that do come to mind are how much light do they need, how much and when to water them, the correct temperature, when to fertilize and how often, the type of potting material to use, and ventilation. These are all important factors in good orchid maintenance.
The light requirements for orchids will depend on the type of plant you have. The proper type of light is perhaps one of the most important aspects to consider when it comes to orchid maintenance. Certain species prefer artificial light whereas other species prefer natural sunlight.
Dendrobium orchids do well in bright sunlight. Phalanopsis orchids do well without needing a lot of light. Miltonia orchids do great in bright diffused light. Another orchid maintenance tip is to place your orchid in an east facing window which is an ideal place for most orchids.
The amount of water and when to water your plants is another important factor to proper orchid maintenance. Over watering is a guaranteed way to kill an orchid plant. When watering your plants water thoroughly. Another orchid maintenance tip is to make sure all the medium in the pot is wet and allow it to drain thoroughly.
How often you water during is dependent on the type of orchid you have. While performing your orchid maintenance you can check to see if your orchid needs water by placing a sharpened #2 pencil about 1 inch into the medium for about 10 minutes, then take it out and check to see if the bare end of the pencil is wet. If so wait a few days to water again.
Temperature also plays an important part in proper orchid maintenance. You want to make sure that your plants do not get too cold or too hot. Orchids have a limit to how hot or cold they can get.
All orchids have a temperature range they prefer.
Dendrobium, Paphiopedilum, and Phalanopsis may not flower unless they go through what is called a “cool down period”. This is usually in the fall for about 2 to 3 weeks.
To meet their needs if you are growing indoors allow the temperature to drop down to about 50 degrees F to 60 degrees F at night.
If in areas where night time temperatures don’t get that cool you can use an air conditioner in your growing area or move them out doors in a cool covered area.
If your plants are subjected to freezing temperatures their leaves will turn dark and mushy. If they are subjected to too hot of temperature their leaves will wilt and start to turn yellow or blacken.
Fertilizers are an artificial way of providing your orchids with the nutrients they need and also good orchid maintenance. Be aware that adding too much fertilizer can be harmful to your plants.
Fertilizers are marked with a number for example 20-20-20. These numbers are the percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in that order. Nitrogen is for green leafy growth whereas phosphorus is necessary for flowering and potassium is critical for strong roots and increased nutrient intake.
Your plants should be fertilized about every other watering and then once a month just use water only to help rinse away the salts that build up in potting material. Use about ¼ to ½ tea spoon of fertilizer to a gallon of water. An important orchid maintenance thing to remember is to identify the type of fertilizer your orchids need.
Providing good ventilation to your orchids or any other plant in that matter helps evaporate stagnant water that gets trapped during rainy weather or during watering.
This trapped water is a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. If circulating fresh air or good ventilation is not provided to your plants they will ultimately die from rot, infections and lack of carbon dioxide.
Ventilation can be provided by fans, opening a window if growing indoors, and placing your plants on a slotted table or bench. Providing proper ventilation is another good orchid maintenance practice.
Orchid growing medium is unlike normal soils and compost that is used for other types of plants. The medium used for proper orchid maintenance is a mix of organic and non-organic materials and need to be a mix of aerating and water retaining materials.
Most mixes can be found in different grades, which are fine, medium and course grades. You can mix your own or use ready-mix materials which can be purchased at most garden center or nurseries and are easier and more convenient to use.
To practice good orchid maintenance you will want to use 70% to 85 % organic and the remainder non-organic materials. The type of medium that you will need to use will depend on what species of orchids you have and whether or not they prefer moist medium or a not so moist medium.
So by practicing good orchid maintenance you should have no problem growing healthy, thriving orchids that produce beautiful flowers.
To Discover more about orchids go to secretstoorchids.com