While many people are still hesitant to purchase orchids, they’ve became more popular than ever. These beautiful, exotic tropical flowers have a bad reputation for being hard to take care of. But, with a little extra care, almost anyone can keep orchids alive and flourishing.
The most important part of keeping an orchid healthy is to start out with a healthy plant. When shopping for an orchid make sure that the pseudo bulb is nice and firm. Check the plant to make sure that there are lot’s of new shoots and that the leaves don’t have brown spots. The more blooms a plant has the healthier it is.
Purchase orchids depending on where you plan to keep the flower, orchids are classified into several temperature ranges, there are warm, temperate and cool orchids. Older plants are more established and will also have a better chance at survival, although they are generally a little more expensive.
Orchids normally only need watering about every 4 to 7 days, but it will depend on the season, the temperature of your home and even the amount of sun that the plant receives. The best way to check the plant is to insert a pencil into the soil, if the pencil is dry when you remove it, the plant needs to be watered. But, it the pencil is damp, don’t water it and just keep checking the soil.
The best type of fertilizer is one that is made especially for orchids. You can fertilize them once a week with a diluted solution. Following the directions on the container, only use half of the recommended amount of fertilizer when mixing it with water.
Although, orchids seem to like to be root bound, they will eventually need to be repotted. When choosing a new pot, make sure that there is only about an inch between the pot and the root ball. Remove all of the old soil from the container very carefully so that none of the roots get damaged.
Rinse the roots thoroughly with water and trim off any of the roots that feel mushy. Gently press the soil around the plant, pushing to hard can damage the fragile roots. If the plant is too heavy, place a stick inside the pot and tie the plant to it for support. Orchids shouldn’t be watered for at least three days after you’ve repotted them.
To help provide the right amount of humidity for orchids, you mist them daily. Misting should be done early in the morning or afternoon, misting them too late in the evening won’t give them enough time to dry before the temperature cools down. And, the cooler air can damage wet leaves.
During the dryer winter months, the plant can be placed in an evaporation tray. Just fill the tray with stones and water and set it near the plant. As the water evaporates into the air, it will supply humidity to the plant. Make sure that you clean the stones every few months to remove any bacteria or algae that may be growing on them.
Most types of orchids do best if kept in areas with medium lighting. They should receive around four hours of bright sunlight every day. The best way to tell if your plant is getting enough light is by checking the leaves. If the plant is getting sufficient light, there will be some reddish colored spots on the leaves.
Too much light will cause the leaves to yellow and they’ll wither and die. It will also cause the leaves to fade and become covered with beige spots. Too little light and the leaves will be a dark green, although dark green is associated with being healthy, with orchids it means that it’s not getting the right amount of light to be able to bloom!
Written by Connie Corder, Copyright 2008 HousePlantsForYou.com