If you’ve learned anything about me so far, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I am a reformed plant killer. In retrospect, this is also probably why my mom was worried when I brought home a puppy (don’t worry, Tucker is surprisingly easier to care for than a dang Tulip). Anyways, as someone who is always up for a challenge, I wanted to crack the code on successfully growing one of the most difficult plants, orchids! And what day would be more appropriate to talk about my mad experiments in healthy orchids than on National Orchid Day?
Orchids are beautiful plants that make a great addition to your home decor. While many people consider orchids to be finicky plants, with some care and attention, these showstoppers will happily grow in your home. Check out the list below for tips on having healthy orchids inside and out.
Orchids prefer a growing medium that is moist but drains well. Many people use bark like redwood or fir mixed with sphagnum moss and perlite. The bark grade best suited for your plants depends on what you have. Young orchid plants do best in fine bark, while cattleyas grow in medium bark and phalaenopsis grow in coarse bark. You can add charcoal, sand and potting soil to get the right consistency for your plants.
It’s just a fact of life that plants need sunlight to thrive, so finding an area that gets a good amount of sunlight is the perfect place to start when looking for a home for your orchids. Orchids prefer bright but indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight can cause leaf scorch on your plants, whereas too little sunlight can cause poor flowering. Temperature is another big deal for growing healthy orchids, so you’ll need a location that is about 15 degrees cooler at night than it is during the day.
Orchids like to be moist but not wet. Allowing them to dry a little between waterings is a great way to find the perfect balance for your plants. To see if your orchids need water, you can just poke your finger about an inch into the soil to see how moist the growing medium feels. If the mixture feels dry, you can go ahead and water, but if the soil still feels moist, leave them alone and check back later.
Orchids like a pretty high humidity level. Luckily, there’s several ways to keep your plants humid and happy. You can gently mist your plants regularly, or place a tray filled with pebbles and water beneath the plants. You can even use a humidifier to keep your plants healthy.
Orchids need more than water to survive. Fertilizing weekly or biweekly while they produce new growth will give your plants the extra boost they need to really show off. If you buy a premade fertilizer, you want to be sure you get something specifically for orchids. If you’re more of a DIY person, you can always make your own fertilizer. DIY fertilizers can be a combination of several items you most likely already have at home – items like egg shells, tea, milk and potatoes all make great orchid food.
If you notice white crust on your growing medium, blackened roots or damaged leaf tips, your orchids may be over-fertilized. To fix this problem, you should flush your growing medium and stop fertilizing for a while.
Since orchids grow in a different medium compared to many other plants, repotting occasionally is necessary. You’re probably wondering, “But how do I know when to repot?” Don’t worry. Even though orchids can’t talk, they’re pretty good at letting you know when it’s time for them to be moved to a new home.
Indoor orchids are great, but some people live in mild areas that are suited to outdoor orchids. Here’s some info on keeping your outdoor orchids thriving and beautiful.
Whether your orchids are indoors or out, they’re sure to bring color and beauty to your home. Don’t let their reputation as difficult to grow throw you off. With time and care, your orchids will thrive and repay your efforts.