Orchids are beautiful plants that make great gifts for any occasion. If you have been given an orchid but are not sure how to care for it, follow these simple steps to ensure a long lasting plant with bountiful, gorgeous flowers:
Watering orchids is when most people make the classic first mistake, they over water. Wait until your orchids are almost completely dry before watering. The root must have a chance to dry out in between watering. If the roots stay wet or are submersed in water they will rot and the plant will eventually die. Resist the urge to overwater and keep it to just once every week.
Since orchids are tropical plants, they do not do well in the cold. They thrive in temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, but this doesn’t mean you have to turn your house into a sweat box – they will do just fine as long as it stays a comfortable temperature. If your orchids are in an excessively cold environment the leaves will begin to yellow and will eventually fall off.
Equally as important as watering and temperature is the humidity level. An orchid’s natural environment is tropical and humid, so to care for an orchid we must provide proper humidity. This doesn’t mean that you have to keep an entire room or home at a high humidity level. Instead, simply set the orchid pot in a water tray. Put 1-2 inches of water in the tray and then fill it with stones, or find a small grate to go on top, on which you can set the orchid pot. It is crucial that the bottom of the orchid pot is above the water and never gets wet. The water in the bottom will help to increase the humidity around the orchid. Grouping many potted orchids together and misting them on a regular basis will also help to keep the humidity level where it needs to be.
Fertilizing orchids is a bit of a debate when it comes to true orchid enthusiasts. There are many different opinions, but it seems like most people agree on the following – use Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus in a 3:1:1 ratio, the best time to fertilize is in the spring, and you may or may not have to fertilize during the dormant months. The best thing that you can do is fertilize in the spring and then go from there. Try a little more later in the year if you want to – but watch your orchids closely to see how they react and then adjust your fertilizing accordingly.
Where you place your orchids and how much light they receive is also important. They enjoy lots of sunlight but shouldn’t be in direct sunlight all day. Start off with a south facing window and adjust from there. There is nothing wrong with moving a plant around until you find the perfect spot for it. Once your orchids bloom, make sure you keep them moist. In the mornings and afternoons mist them using a spray bottle.