Orchids, also known as Orchidaceae, are one of the most beautiful flowers around due to their large, long-lasting blooms and crisp colors. They can be found in white, pink, magenta, purple and yellow hues. Orchids symbolize fertility, elegance and love. For this reason, they are often given as gifts for new parents.
One of the most popular types of orchids is the moth orchid or phalaenopsis. This variety blooms one to two times a year and the flowers last from two to three months. Other popular types of orchids are dendrobium and oncidium, which bloom one to two times a year and have flowers that last a little over a month.
If you are an orchid owner or are looking to give an orchid as a gift, it’s important to know the unique care this variety of flower requires. Follow our orchid guide to learn how to care for orchids. From soil advice to watering tips, we have the recipe to keep your orchid alive and healthy.
- How to Grow Orchids
- How to Water Orchids
- How to Care for Orchids After They Bloom
- How Long Do Orchids Live?
- Cut the spike.
- What If I don’t cut the orchid spike?
- Post-bloom orchid care
- How to Make Orchids Rebloom
- How to Care for Your Orchid
- Eight Reasons Your Orchid is Not Blooming
- Basic Orchid Care In Six Easy Steps
- Basic Orchid Care
- How Often Do Orchids Bloom?
- How to Encourage Blooming
- How Long Do the Blooms Last?
- Best Orchids for Indoor Gardening
- Cut Back the Orchid Flower Spike
- Basic Care for Orchids
- Trick Orchids into Bloom with Cool Temperatures
- Recognizing an Orchid Flower Spike
- Orchids After Blooming: Learn About Orchid Care After Blooms Drop
- Caring for Orchids after They Bloom
- How to Care for Orchids after Flowering
- Frequently Asked Questions About Orchids
- Our current topics:
- How do I repot my orchid?
- Can I repot my orchid when it is in spike or blooming?
- Why do you recommend urea-free fertilizer?
- Why won’t my orchid plant bloom?
- How often should I water my orchids?
- Why are my orchid’s leaves wrinkled?
- What is this clear sticky substance I have on the spikes and leaves of my orchid?
- Why are my buds turning yellow and falling off?
- My Phalaenopsis has stopped blooming and gone dormant. Now what do I do?
- I’m doing the same things I’ve always done, but this year my orchid didn’t bloom. What’s wrong?
- Do I cut the spike back when my orchid is finished blooming?
- My orchid has dropped some leaves. It is ok?
- I’ve got black spots on my leaves, what could this be?
- How to Trigger Reblooming of Your Orchid
- To trigger orchid reblooming, follow these steps:
- When your orchid stops blooming, begin fertilizing it every other week with a balanced houseplant fertilizer (20-20-20) mixed at half strength. Do not water your Just Add Ice Orchid with 3 ice cubes on the weeks you fertilize your plant.
- Move your orchid to a cooler environment where nighttime temperatures are between 55 and 65 degree F. until a new flower spike emerges.
- Return your plant to its usual location and continue watering with 3 ice cubes once a week.
- To trigger orchid reblooming, follow these steps:
- How to Bring your Orchid Back to Life
- Growing your orchid
- Are you thinking of potting your orchid?
- Getting your orchid back to life
- Understand your orchid
- Orchid Care Instructions: How To Cut An Orchid Spike
- Cutting Your Orchid’s Spike
- Next Steps: Where do you go from here?
How to Grow Orchids
There are more than 20,000 types of orchids around the world, and their growth is dependant on a few factors. Proper potting, soil base, watering and lighting are all components that are vital to an orchid’s growth.
Your orchid should be planted in a pot that has plenty of drainage. There should be drainage holes in the bottom of your pot to ensure any excess water drains completely. If your orchid comes in a pot that does not have this feature, you’ll need to repot it into one that does.
Orchids should be planted in fast-draining soil. Using moss-based or bark-based potting mix is suggested. Depending on which you choose, the orchid care will vary. The bark-based mix allows the water to drain quickly, so you will need to water your orchid more frequently. The moss mix retains more water, so you can go longer between waterings.
Orchids grow best in environment that’s 60-75 degrees fahrenheit (16 to 24 degrees celsius). These moderate temperatures, in combination with a little air circulation, will allow your orchid to grow big, beautiful flowers.
Orchids should be kept near a south or east facing window if possible. They need a lot of light, but not direct light. If they are near a west-facing window, the light will be too strong, so you may need to put a sheer curtain on the window. North-facing windows will not provide enough light for your orchid.
How to Water Orchids
How often you water your orchid will depend on your climate, humidity levels and potting medium. Orchids usually need to be watered every few days. When it comes to watering orchids, the most common mistake is overwatering them. Root rot is a disease that is commonly found in this variety of plant.
To avoid overwatering, water your orchid based on how wet the soil feels. Gently push a few fingers into the soil and then remove them. If you feel moisture on them, you do not need to water your orchid. If you do not feel moisture, it needs a soak. Another way to help you keep track of if your plant needs water is by potting it in a clear pot. A clear pot will show the condensation, and when there is no condensation it’s time to water.
If you live in a dry climate or have an air conditioned home, you may need to give your orchid a mist on a daily basis. If your home has 40-60% humidity this is not needed. But for anything below 40% humidity, misting orchids daily with a spray bottle is recommended.
How to Care for Orchids After They Bloom
After you’ve enjoyed the orchid’s beautiful bloom, you’ll need to water, feed and prune it to allow it to stay healthy. It’s suggested that you repot your orchid in fresh growing medium (bark or moss soil). This will give the plant a fresh start with new nutrients.
Fertilizer is essential for promoting reblooming in your dormant orchid. You’ll need to feed the plant by fertilizing it with a balanced houseplant fertilizer (20-20-20) either weekly or monthly, depending on the variety.
Once a flower has dried, the stem should be pruned. You can cut the old flower spike near the base of the stem. It is rare for an orchid to rebloom on the same stem.
If you take care of your orchid as instructed, you should see a rebloom in six to nine months. If your orchid is not blooming, it’s probably because of one of these eight reasons:
- Not enough light
- Too much light
- Wrong temperature
- Too much or too little fertilizer
- Needs repotting
- It’s the wrong season
- Too little water
- Too much water
Knowing how to rebloom orchids is a skill that takes practice. You may have to test a few of these factors before finding the source of the problem.
How Long Do Orchids Live?
Orchids can live for years and even decades with the proper care. An orchid’s lifecycle consists of an initial bloom (usually in fall), a dormant period and a rebloom. If the orchid is cared, for it then repeats the dormant and rebloom stages every few months.
Now that you know how to properly care for orchids, check out our beautiful orchid plants and find one for your home.
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When it comes to orchid plants, it’s usually the exquisite flowers and buds that simply takes us away. They indulge us with their beauty for weeks, sometimes months. But what should you do after the last flowers fall off from your orchid plant? Don’t throw it away just yet. Here’s how to properly take care of your orchids after they bloom.
Cut the spike.
A typical orchid plant can bloom again and again as long as it has healthy flower spikes to bear it. An orchid spike is the long stalky part of the plant where the leaves and the flowers are attached to. Learn more about different orchid parts here.
Check if the stem is still green and plump. On the contrary, if you see that your spike has become yellow, brown, and withered, this means it’s time to give it a trim. Because of this, you are saving your orchid plant from wasting energy and nutrients and instead encouraging it to focus on thriving and blooming faster eventually.
When cutting an orchid spike, use a clean and sharp blade, preferably sterilized by alcohol or hot water previously. Make sure it’s free of rust or you’ll risk infecting your orchid plant. Create a clean cut on the nearest node where the first flower appeared. A new shoot should surprise you within 8 to 12 weeks.
What If I don’t cut the orchid spike?
While other orchid lovers may argue that it will still bloom even if you leave the plant be, the American Orchid Society says that only Phalaenopsis orchids can bloom from the same inflorescence, albeit smaller and fewer. The reason is that blooming from the same spike twice can be exhausting and harmful for your orchid plant.
Post-bloom orchid care
Post-bloom orchid care shouldn’t be a big of a deal. It’s no different from how you should maintain and look after your orchid plant all the time. This includes:
- Water copiously whenever the potting material is dry.
- Give it ample amount of bright, indirect light.
- Fertilize weakly, weekly with a high-quality urea-free orchid fertilizer after watering sessions.
Some types of orchids will go through a dormancy period and may take time before they bloom again. Dendrobium orchids, Cymbidium orchids, Catasetums, Clowesias, Habenaria, and their hybrids reportedly go through a regular period of dormancy during winter or when temperatures start to drop. On the other hand, Phalaenopsis and Lady slipper orchids do not. They may just take a breather.
If this happens, it’s just normal. There’s no need to freak out. Give it time and some tender, loving care and you’ll see it will bloom again.
How to Make Orchids Rebloom
Orchids are beautiful and exotic flowers that are associated with fertility, virility and sexuality. They look great in home decor adding elegance and grace to an area. However, many people struggle with how to rebloom orchids.
How long your orchid lasts greatly depends on how well you take care of it. The most beautiful part of the orchid is its blossom and unfortunately it can be difficult to maintain. Caring for orchids can be a tedious process that often ends in frustration. The key is to remain patient and attentive to the flower’s needs throughout its entire development.
The steps to rebloom an orchid for the first time can be difficult to implement without first knowing the general care tips for an orchid. So, we have broken up this guide into two sections for you. The first centers on how to care for your orchid. The second discusses how to make orchids rebloom. We have also included a visual guide at the bottom with the six most important care tips. Happy growing!
How to Care for Your Orchid
Orchids are some of the most commonly-grown houseplants, but they require specific growing conditions. It is important to remember that orchids are very different from most plant species and so the amount of time spent caring for them should reflect that.
Like humans, the manner in which orchids mature is dependent on their environment. So, using caution when maintaining your plant’s habitat is essential to its healthy development. Once you master the basics of orchid care, they become very easy to grow. Here are some quick and easy ways to help your orchid bloom to its full potential:
- One of the most difficult parts of growing an orchid is providing it with the correct amount of sunlight. Unlike most plants, orchids need indirect sunlight to bloom.
- The best way to give your orchid the correct amount of light is to put your plant by east and west-facing windows. If you do not have any windows nearby, a fluorescent light will work too.
- If your plant develops black tips on its leaves, then it may be getting sunburned. If this happens, you should put your plant in a space where there is less direct sunlight.
- Orchids grow their best in moderate room temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They can handle nighttime temperatures as low as 60 degrees and daytime temperatures as high as 85 degrees. However, this can vary depending on the type of orchid that you are nurturing.
- It is best to avoid extreme temperature changes or drafts, so we recommend keeping your orchid indoors.
- It is also important to keep your orchid away from any ripening fruits; they give off a gas that can be harmful to the plant.
- Most orchids should be watered every week or two. When your orchids soil begins to feel dry, that means it needs to be watered.
- The best way to water your orchid is to take it out of its container and put it in a plastic grower’s pot.
- Next, put your orchid under a slow-running tap for 10 to 15 seconds. As you are watering, wet each side of the plant, but avoid the crown and leaves. You can also water your orchid using ice cubes.
- Before putting your orchid back in its original pot, let it drip-dry for five to 10 minutes so that the plant is not sitting in water.
- When your orchid’s soil begins to feel almost dry, it is time to repeat the process.
Once your orchid has stopped blooming, it will enter a stage called dormancy. It may seem like your plant is dead at first, but it is not. This dormancy stage is a resting period where the plant has time to replace nutrients that were dispensed during the blooming process. This dormancy stage usually lasts about six to nine months. After that, your orchid will have the energy to rebloom again.
However, sometimes orchids need help with this process and require even more attention than they did before. With the right amount of tender love and care, you can get your orchid to rebloom.
Here are three easy steps to make your orchid rebloom:
- Once your orchid enters the dormancy phase and stops blooming, begin fertilizing it. Most orchids will need a balanced houseplant fertilizer (20-20-20). This should be done monthly or weekly depending on the type of orchid that you have.
- Move your orchid to a cooler area where the temperatures are between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep your orchid in indirect sunlight at all times. Do this until a new flower spike emerges.
- Once a flower spike has emerged, give it a couple months for the plant to reach about 5’’. Once this happens, it is time to start supporting your spike! You can do this with a loose tie and a stake. If a couple months pass and you do not see a flower start to emerge, try moving your orchid to a different location. It might not be getting the right temperature or indirect sunlight that it needs.
Once your orchid has started to rebloom, your work is not done! Continue to water and care for your orchid like you normally would and its bloom should last between 30-45 days. If you are lucky, your orchid may be able to bloom twice a year!
Eight Reasons Your Orchid is Not Blooming
Sometimes, even when you give your orchid all the time and care that it needs, it still may not bloom. Here is a list of eight reasons your orchid may not be blooming:
1) Not enough light
Orchids should be placed in areas with indirect sunlight. If you plan on putting your orchid somewhere where this is not possible, such as a bedside table or home office, we recommend investing in a grow light.
2) Too much light
Unlike most plants, orchids will die when exposed to too much sun. Direct sunlight will result in the orchid’s leaves becoming sunburned. Make sure your orchid is placed in an area that receives indirect sunlight. If you are planning on using a grow light, set timers to replicate the natural night and daylight process.
Orchids need to be in temperatures between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and cannot handle drastic weather changes. For this reason, we recommend keeping your orchid indoors at all times.
If your orchid is in a sterile inorganic potting mix, it may not be getting all the nutrients that it needs. In order to give your orchid the nutrient boost that it requires, we recommend purchasing an urea-free fertilizer.
When orchids outgrow their containers, their roots can suffocate from lack of proper ventilation. In order to tell whether or not your orchid needs to be repotted, pay attention to your orchid’s roots rather than its foliage. If the roots look brown or are creeping out of the container, it is time to repot.
Unlike most garden flowers, orchids bloom their best in the fall. So, you are going to have to pay a lot more attention to your orchid when trying to bloom it in the summer.
7) Too much water
Over-watering your orchid is the number one reason why it may not be blooming. When you notice your orchid’s leaves wilting or its roots turning brown, this means that it is receiving too much water. If this happens, let the plant dry for about a week before watering again.
8) Too little water
In the same way that over-watering your orchid can negatively affect its growth, under-watering it can do the same. If your orchid’s leaves are looking dry, make sure to water the plant and give it the proper attention that it needs.
Basic Orchid Care In Six Easy Steps
Before you become too overwhelmed with the information we have given you, take a deep breath and review the basics. To make things easier we have created a visual guide of the six most important care tips for you to remember. Once you have these down, getting your orchid to bloom and rebloom should come at ease!
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Though not for the novice, orchids are very popular houseplants due to their unique look and the challenge of growing them. Unlike many plants that can give you a lovely green cascade of leaves, orchids are all about the flowers. In fact, many of them are quite sparse in terms of leaves, creating a more bold display of color.
Orchids come in a whole rainbow of possible colors, including many striking variegated varieties. Even though orchids are famous for their visual beauty, they are usually very fragrant as well.
Basic Orchid Care
Orchids aren’t actually all that difficult to care for (see my full care guide), you just need to have a very precise environment for them to thrive. You have to pay close attention to light, moisture levels and room temperature.
Let’s start off with light. Orchids aren’t that different from other houseplants in terms of their lighting needs. Bright light is good as long as you don’t allow the plants to get too hot. A south-facing window may suit if you don’t keep the orchids right up by the glass where the heat is highest. East-facing can be perfect.
When it comes to water, orchids need to be kept moist without getting soggy, which can be one of the biggest challenges with these plants. The trick is getting the right mix of well-draining materials for your specific type of orchid. A blend of shredded bark, sphagnum moss and some perlite is the usual place to start. In case you were curious, perlite is a natural mineral that looks like little white balls of styrofoam, often mixed into various types of potting mixes for drainage.
Once you have the right growing medium, you should water your orchids to give them a thorough soaking but then leave them alone until the soil is dry for about an inch down from the surface. That can mean you only water your plants once a week or even less.
Watering isn’t the only moisture issue with orchids. These plants need high humidity in the air as well, between 50 and 70%. An average house has humidity in this range so it may not be something you need to deal with. If your house is on the dry side, you have to dampen things up. A nearby humidifier can help, as can a shallow dish of water with pebbles. Giving your orchids a daily misting is another option.
The last element to good orchid care is the temperature. Generally, they are fine in rooms that are between 50 and 70F (or between 10 and 21C), which is a little cooler than usual room temperatures. Though they have a reputation for being tropical plants, they don’t really like the high heat all the time. Keeping a closer eye on the temperature is important when you are trying to get your orchids to bloom, which will will address more closely in a moment.
How Often Do Orchids Bloom?
Now that you’re taking great care of your orchid, when can you expect to start seeing new flowers? Chances are, you’ve purchased an orchid that already has blossoms on it so you won’t have to wait for new flowers until the current bloom has died. After that, you may have to wait another year as most orchids only bloom annually. Some newer hybrids may produce flowers twice a year if the conditions are excellent.
How to Encourage Blooming
Keeping an orchid alive is one thing, it’s another to have it healthy enough to produce blooms for you. Even an orchid that is doing fine may not put out any flowers unless the right environmental conditions are in place. They’re not all the same, but generally an orchid needs just the right light and some temperature changes before it will flower.
Orchids need lots of light to blossom, so if you can get bright or indirect light for your plants 8 to 12 hours a day, you’re a lot more likely to see new flowers. If nature doesn’t oblige, you’ll need to install an artificial light or two.
After light, the next issue is the temperature, and more specifically how the temperature changes from day to night. There has to be warmer daytime temperatures than usual, and a significant cooling off during the night. Generally speaking, you need to have your plants at 70-85F (21-29C) during the day and let it drop down to around 60F (16C) at night to trigger a flowering cycle. If you are growing Oncidium orchids, they definitely need it to be at the hotter end of that range.
This is the area where most people have trouble getting their orchids to bloom. Your average home doesn’t keep rooms that hot since it would be pretty uncomfortable for everyone but the flowers.
Normally orchids do not need fertilizer, though a little nutrient boost while you are trying to get them to flower doesn’t hurt. You’ll need a particular formula intended for orchids, and not your usual general-purpose houseplant mix.
Though these changes can be enough to get some flowers going on their own, doing these adjustments during the right time of year is another good idea. The natural blooming period for orchids is between May and October, so when you start raising (and dropping) the temperatures, this is when you should plan to do it.
After the flowers have died back, it’s best to snip off the now-dead flower spike. While you are at it, remove any dead leaves to clean up your plant. At this point, your orchid is going to go dormant until the next year’s blooming period. It’s the best time to repot your plant.
This step is often misunderstood, and doing it correctly will make a big difference in whether or not your flowers bloom next year. Gardeners tend to leave their orchids in the same pot year after year, waiting for it to outgrow the container.
The problem is that orchids do not grow very large and may never outgrow their pot. In fact, the reason you repot an orchid has nothing to do with size at all. Using a growing medium like coconut fiber, moss or bark means more decomposition and rotting than regular soil. After a year, you need to provide fresh rooting material as the old breaks down and changes the chemistry within the pot. So gently loosed the roots from the old media, and replant with fresh. You don’t necessarily need to find a new container, just new bark or moss.
How Long Do the Blooms Last?
Once your plants come into flower, how long can you expect them to last? That depends on what species of orchid you are growing. For all the work you put into keeping the plants happy, it’s nice to know that their lovely flowers should last several weeks at the minimum. Some varieties will keep their blossoms for a few months.
Best Orchids for Indoor Gardening
If you are thinking about getting into orchids, you are almost certainly to be overwhelmed when you start looking for the right varieties. This is one of the largest groups of flowering plants with more than 25,000 different species. With that kind of choice, how do you decide?
Not all are well-suited for indoor gardening, especially not for the novice orchid grower. If you are just getting started, you should choose one of these varieties, know for being easiest to grow:
This isn’t a comprehensive list of options, and many others are great for growing indoors (or even outside). Still can’t choose? Go with a moth orchid if its your first.
Hopefully, this has dispelled some of your fears about raising orchids and given you the right tools to make sure yours provide you with colorful flowers year after year.
118shares How Often Do Orchids Bloom? (And How to Make It Happen) was last modified: August 20th, 2019 by The Practical Planter
Although they may appear exotic, Phalaenopsis orchids are easy to care for and these days, easy to come by. Relatively inexpensive and available at your local grocery store, it’s apparent why Phalaenopsis orchids have become so popular.
Now, I’m a die-hard packrat who is reluctant to throw anything away — especially if it’s living — so I hang on to orchids after the blooms fade. I know that with a little TLC the plant will flower again and there is no such thing as having too many orchids.
Here’s how to care for Phalaenopsis orchids after they bloom.
Cut Back the Orchid Flower Spike
After the flowers drop from the orchid you have three choices: leave the flower spike (or stem) intact, cut it back to a node, or remove it entirely.
Remove the flower spike entirely by clipping it off at the base of the plant. This is definitely the route to take if the existing stem starts to turn brown or yellow. Withered stems won’t produce flowers. Removing the stem will direct the +plant’s energy toward root development, which makes for a healthier plant and increased chances for new bloom spikes.
Basic Care for Orchids
Place your Phalaenopsis orchid in an area that receives bright, indirect light with a daytime temperature of around 75°F and a night temperature of 65°F. (In your home works perfectly fine.) Water weekly and feed once a month with a liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength.
Trick Orchids into Bloom with Cool Temperatures
A trick you can use to try and force them into bloom is to move them to an area where the night temperature is slightly lower, about 55°F. Be sure the spot receives bright, indirect light during the day. Once a bloom spike appears, return your orchid to its normal setting.
Recognizing an Orchid Flower Spike
Phalaenopsis orchids typically flower once a year. To identify a new bloom spike, look for roots that are growing upwards with glossy green points, rather than round tips.
Once a bloom spike appears, increase feeding to every other week with a liquid houseplant fertilizer that has been diluted to half the recommended strength and support the stem with a stake as it grows.
Orchids After Blooming: Learn About Orchid Care After Blooms Drop
Orchids are the largest family of plants in the world. Much of their variety and beauty are reflected in the different species cultivated as houseplants. The flowers are unparalleled in beauty, form and delicacy and blooms last for quite some time. However, when they are spent, we are left wondering what to do with the plant now. Read on to learn how to care for orchids after flowering.
Caring for Orchids after They Bloom
You don’t have to be a collector to love orchids. Even grocery stores carry a selection of orchids as gift plants. Usually, these are the easy to grow Phalaenopsis orchids, which produce a vigorous stalk with numerous flowers. This variety of orchid blooms may last up to 2 months with good care but, eventually, all good things must come to an end.
When the flowers have all fallen from the stalk, it is time to consider how to keep the plant in good condition and possibly encourage a rebloom. Post bloom orchid care is the same for any species but relies on sterility to prevent disease contagions.
Strangely enough, most orchids come already blooming at purchase. So post bloom orchid care is really just good care for the plant at any time. Provide light but not direct sunlight, consistent moisture, air circulation and temperatures of 75 F. (23 C.) during the day and 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 C.) at night.
Orchids thrive in cramped containers and are actually quite easy to grow if you keep the ambient conditions just right. Post bloom orchid care doesn’t differ from the care you give the plant year round. In fact, the only difference is in how you treat the spent flower stem. Orchid flower stems may still produce flowers if they are still green.
How to Care for Orchids after Flowering
A Phalaneopsis orchid that has finished flowering has the potential to produce another bloom or two. This is only if the stem is healthy and still green with no sign of rot. If the stem is brown or has begun to soften anywhere, cut it off with a sterile instrument to the base. This redirects the plant’s energy to the roots. Stems that are healthy on Phalaneopsis orchids after blooming can be cut back to the second or third node. These might actually produce a bloom from the growth node.
Removing only part of the stem is a part of orchid care after blooms drop recommended by collectors and growers. The American Orchid Society recommends using cinnamon powder or even melted wax to seal the cut and prevent infection on orchids after blooming.
Most other species of orchid need specialized conditions to form blooms and will not bloom from the spent flower stalk. Some even need a dormant period to form buds, such as Dendrobiums, which need 6 to 8 weeks with minimal water. Cattleya require cool nights with temperatures of 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 C.) but warm days to form buds.
Let the soil dry slightly between waterings but never allow your orchid to become completely dried out. Caring for orchids after they bloom may mean repotting. Orchids like to be in cramped quarters and really only need their soil changed when it begins to break down. Use a good orchid mix that will have bark, coconut fiber, sphagnum moss and perlite. Be very gentle when repotting. Damage to roots can be fatal and marring the new flower shoots can prevent bloom.
Frequently Asked Questions About Orchids
In our continuing efforts to provide education to our website visitors, we have created a list of what are some of the most commonly asked questions for beginners and experienced orchid growers alike. If there are any other orchid topics that you would like to see covered, contact us and we will try to oblige.
Our current topics:
How do I repot?
Can I repot when my orchid is in spike or bloom?
Why do you recommend urea-free fertilizer?
Why won’t my orchid plant bloom?
How often should I water?
Why are my plant’s leaves wrinkled?
What is this clear sticky substance I have on the spikes and leaves?
Why are my buds turning yellow and falling off?
My Phalaenopsis has stopped blooming and gone dormant. What do I do?
I’m doing the same things I’ve always done, but this year my plant didn’t bloom. What’s wrong?
Do I cut the spike back when my orchid is finished blooming?
My orchid has dropped some leaves. It is ok?
I’ve got black spots on my leaves, what could this be?
How do I repot my orchid?
There are several different ways to repot, and different orchid varieties can require different repotting techniques and potting materials. We recommend that you visit our Orchid Care section for more specific information on different genus of orchid.
In general, most orchid plants that are growing in pots will break down the medium within one to two years. When repotting, remove the old mix from the pot, being careful not to break or crush too many roots. Hollow or mushy roots to the touch are considered dead and can be trimmed off. Roots that feel solid are generally the living roots. Rinse the root system thoroughly as this makes them more flexible, and cleans off the old potting medium so you can have a clearer look at the roots. Put the plant in a new pot (plastic or clay, depending on what type of orchid you have) carefully bending the aerial roots into the pot.
All orchids enjoy being rather root-bound, so make certain that there is only an extra inch or so for the roots to expand to in order to become root-bound again. You will likely crack some roots when you tuck them into the new pot and fill in with new medium.
This is inevitable and the plant should recover within a couple of weeks. In the case of using a bark medium (We highly recommend Orchiata bark), tap on the sides of the pot to help the medium settle into the pot. This reduced how much you need to press down on the medium to stable the plant. Having the plant being stable in the pot is essential for healthy growth. If the plant is loose and/or wobbly, it will most likely not grow well and should be reset into the pot.
For those using sphagnum moss, we recommend using slightly damp moss and wrapping it around the roots lightly before placing it into the pot. This way you don’t have to worry about air pockets in the bottom of the pot. After repotting, the plant sometimes needs to adjust from shock. One tip we recommend is not to water the plant for about 3 to 5 days. This will give the roots a chance to recover.
Can I repot my orchid when it is in spike or blooming?
Yes and no. It really depends on the condition of the plant and if it is necessary or not. First of all, we must confirm the difference between the phrases “in spike”, “in bud” and “in bloom”.
If an orchid is “in spike”, it has produced a stem that will eventually form buds and flower.
If an orchid is “in bud”, flower buds have emerged from the spike and could be anywhere from a few days to a month to bloom. Some orchids form the spike with buds emerging almost simultaneously.
If an orchid is “in bloom”, the flowers have emerged and are blooming.
Make sure to remember to browse our beautiful In-Spike/Bud/Bloom orchids.
If your orchid is in spike, you can repot as long as you are careful not to damage roots while repotting. There may be a couple of reasons that you want to repot while your orchid is in spike. These same reasons can apply to plants in bud or bloom.
The plant could be in drastic need of repotting. If this is the case, carefully clean away the old medium and try to avoid damaging roots. If the plant has a very poor root system to start out with and it is clearly suffering from stress, it is best recommended that you remove the flower spike as it is draining energy from the plant that could be used to help it recover.
You might want to repot it into a decorative pot before the plant blooms. If this is the case, to avoid shocking the plant, simply remove the plant and set it into the new pot without removing the old potting medium. This way you will avoid shocking the plant and it will continue its flowering schedule as usual.
If your orchid is in bud, you can repot it for the same reasons as if it was in spike. However, the risk of some (or all) buds being shocked and falling off is high. Orchids are much more forgiving if you repot when the buds have just formed and are “tight”. For the most part, you should avoid repotting when in bud if it is not necessary.
If you repot when your plant is actually blooming, it is normal for the flowers to drop faster than normal, sometimes almost immediately. Only repot when blooming if you feel it is absolutely necessary.
Why do you recommend urea-free fertilizer?
Urea requires microorganisms to break it down and convert it tonitrogen. Orchids are in soilless mixes so there are not enough microorganisms to do the job. Ammoniac and nitrate nitrogen are immediately available to the plant. Depending on what part of the country you’re in, how much sunlight you receive and what your temperatures are, you may be able to get by with a urea based fertilizer. However, people we know who have switched to urea-free have all said they get much better results. (Urea has been linked to pseudomonas disease in Phalaenopsis orchids.)
These days, we recommend our very own fertilizer called Green Jungle™, which has been giving fantastic results and blooms to hundreds of our hobbyist customers!
Why won’t my orchid plant bloom?
The most common factors are as follows:
– Not enough light
– Poor root system due to old potting medium or over watering
– Not enough temperature fluctuation
– Using a poor water source
Generally speaking, if you are not providing sufficient artificial light (see our L.E.D. Grow Lights selection or read about LED lighting technology), plants need to be close to a window, no more than 3′ away at most. Plants see light from above, not sideways, and if you grow your plants too far from a window you will notice new growths becoming smaller and the leaves much narrower. They will not be able to store the energy they need to bloom.
Poor root systems are caused by over-watering, or forgetting to repot when the medium is broken down. If this happens you will have to repot is as soon as possible in order to re-establish the root system.
Temperatures should fluctuate below 65° Fahrenheit at night (preferable 60°) to above 65-75° during the day. Generally a 7-10° temperature fluctuation is needed to initiate decent flowering for most orchids.
Water should be clean. We always recommend using rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water. Soften water has too many minerals and will most likely slow down, damage, or kill root growth in orchids.
How often should I water my orchids?
Orchids need to dry out somewhat between watering. In general, most orchids in a 5″ or larger pot size will require to be thoroughly watered once per week. Smaller pots often dry out faster, and can require water two to three times per week. Do not attempt to put your plants on a watering schedule. Check your plants every 2-3 days. Are they dry down in the mix and well as on top? If so, you should water. Every grower’s plant environment is different, and you will become familiar with your plants watering needs over time.
One trick to help measure moisture is to take a sharpened wooden pencil and jam it down into the mix. Pull it out, and if the color of the wood exposed at the tip turns dark, you can be assured that there is moisture in the mix. You can also use a plastic label. The weight of the pot becomes lighter as the mix dries out. If in doubt, don’t water. Wait a day or two.
If you happen to have an epiphytic plant that is being grown on a slab, you should be watering on a daily basis or have very high humidity in order for it to grow.
Why are my orchid’s leaves wrinkled?
Wrinkled or pleated leaves are caused by a lack of moisture reaching the vegetative part of the plant. This can be caused by not watering enough, or watering too much. If you can’t figure out what you’ve done, tip the plant out of the pot and examine the roots. If they are white or tan, firm, and spread throughout the mix, you need to increase the frequency of watering. If the roots appear brown and mushy, trim them off, repot into a new mix, and decrease the frequency of watering. Always remember, orchids should never stand in water!
What is this clear sticky substance I have on the spikes and leaves of my orchid?
This is normal for most orchid flower spikes. It is simply a sugary secretion. You can mist it with lukewarm water to dissolve it off.
Why are my buds turning yellow and falling off?
This is referred to as bud blast, and can be caused by the following conditions:
The plant has been too dry between watering, causing it to withdraw moisture from the buds.
There may be some wide swings in temperature, where it may be too hot in direct sun, or the plant may be too close to an air conditioning or heating vent.
There may be some fumes in the air caused by paint, natural gas leaks, or other chemicals. Flowers naturally create their own methane and collapse after pollination to save energy for seed production. Certain forms of methane or ethylene may trigger bud or flower collapse.
Cattleyas in particular are sensitive while in bud to overwatering, causing the buds to actually turn black in the sheath.
All plants need an adequate amount of light in order to flower correctly. Placing a plant in the center of a room, on a coffee table for example, is fine for display during an evening of entertaining, but to maintain proper growth and flower development it is best to keep the plant in its growing area (near a window or under lights).
My Phalaenopsis has stopped blooming and gone dormant. Now what do I do?
Phalaenopsis orchids never really go “dormant”. When they aren’t blooming, they put energy into making new leaves and roots. Continue to provide good light, water, and fertilizer.
I’m doing the same things I’ve always done, but this year my orchid didn’t bloom. What’s wrong?
Things to consider:
Is it time to repot? We recommend repotting every 1-2 years as the mix breaks down, usually in the spring or early fall. See our potting mix and orchid repotting video. Weather conditions? Long periods of cloudy days, cooler or hotter temperatures than normal can change when blooming will occur.
Has the plant been moved to a different location?
Do I cut the spike back when my orchid is finished blooming?
This is a very common question that really depends on what type of orchid you have. In general, once orchids are finished blooming you can remove the spike with a scissors. If you do not remove the spike, the flower spike will dry up and turn brown over time. There are some orchids that can re-bloom off of the same flower spike more than once.
Certain species of Oncidium such as the papilio can bloom off of a broken or cut back spike. The most commonly re-blooming flower spike is that of the Phalaenopsis (moth orchid). If your Phalaenopsis is of mature size such as 12″ or more in leaf-span, cut it half way back just above one of the nodes (the little notches on the flower spike). It should branch out in 90-120 days with a new spike. Generally we recommend trying this only once per flower spike. Trying it a second or third time will result in less flowers. Cutting the flower spike completely off will give the plant more energy in order to produce a new flower spike with more flowers.
My orchid has dropped some leaves. It is ok?
Almost all orchids drop leaves as they grow. Phalaenopsis orchids bottom leaves will turn yellow and fall off when it starts to produce new growth. Common white and purple Dendrobiums often drop all their leaves on each cane after they have finished blooming. With most orchids, old leaf growth naturally drops once new growth starts to emerge. The only time you should be concerned about leaves dropping is when the new growth or large and mature leaves turn yellow or fall off. This usually indicates a bacteria or fungus problem (you may want to try a bactericide/fungicide spray). We have a few different Pest and Disease Control products to choose from. Unless you have a deciduous orchid that has resting periods where it may drop all of its leaves, if an orchid has no leaves it is most likely dead. Examine the plant carefully if the largest leaves or new growth are changing colors.
I’ve got black spots on my leaves, what could this be?
This is generally a leaf rot caused by types of fungi that are commonly classified as Cercospora or Colletotrichum. Many times this rot will start out as yellow spots, gradually turning to a brown or black color. Note that certain plants such as most Oncidium hybrids often get several small black spots on the leaves due to the sun. In this case it is natural spotting and will not harm the plant.
The best kind of treatment for this problem is to use a bactericide/fungicide spray such as Phyton 27. After treatment, examine to see if the spots are increasing in size or number within a week to 10 days. If you have successfully rid of the problem, the spots should dry up and turn brown. If there are still signs of new rot, repeat treatment. Leaves that are heavily covered in rot should be completely removed. Make sure you sterilize whatever tool you may use to remove the infected leaves with as it can spread the disease to other plants.
How to Trigger Reblooming of Your Orchid
When your orchid stops blooming and enters dormancy, don’t worry, it is not dead. You can encourage your orchid to bloom again with just a little TLC. Phalaenopsis orchids rebloom on old spikes with a new stalk emerging from a triangular node along the stalk. To trigger reblooming, your orchid will need a little more attention than what you usually give it. The thrill when your orchid blooms for a second time, however, makes the small investment in time and effort required to trigger orchid reblooming well worth the effort.
Phalaenopsis orchids expend a lot of energy to create the large, beautiful flowers for which they are prized. Under normal circumstances, your orchid will enter a resting period called dormancy once it has finished blooming. Dormancy allows the plant time to rest and replace the nutrients expended during blooming. Nutrients and water are stored in the plant’s leaves until they are needed for growth and blooming. Dormancy typically lasts from 6 to 9 months and your orchid may rebloom on its own. But sometimes orchids need a little help activating the natural rhythm that leads to blooming.
To trigger orchid reblooming, follow these steps:
Return your plant to its usual location and continue watering with 3 ice cubes once a week.
How to Bring your Orchid Back to Life
Did you know there are over 250,000 different species of orchids around the world?
And that the number is continuously increasing because of our everlasting love for them?
Due to the popularity of orchids, these beautiful flowers are taking root in homes and gardens up and down the country and while they are known for being a relatively low maintenance plant there are occasions when they seem to be languishing.
When our orchid starts to decline we are all guilty of feeling at a loss over what to do. Surely there’s no way to bring it back to life?
Well, actually, there is! To know what to do to bring your orchid back from the brink you need to understand the plant’s life cycle and follow these simple tips.
Growing your orchid
If you have chosen to grow your own orchid, it’s essential that you take care of some of their very basic needs.
To begin with, they need a lot of sunlight – normally around 12 hours – but they hate direct sunlight which can cause some obvious problems.
They grow most successfully when sat in north and south facing windows and of course under artificial UV lights but they also need to be in temperatures of between 60 and 80 degrees and more often than not prefer dry, humid heat.
Contrary to what many believe, orchids actually don’t need to be watered that much – they thrive on only being watered once a week when their soil is dry.
Are you thinking of potting your orchid?
If you’ve decided to pot your orchid, it is essential that you understand that orchids require a large amount of circulation around their roots and therefore require certain potting soil.
The soil you choose must be able to both retain moisture and support the orchid, so choose carefully. The ideal orchid potting materials are wood chips, peat moss or ferns.
When potting the orchid, you should fill your pot with 3 to 6 inches of your chosen potting material and then lay the roots of the orchid over the soil. You should be extremely careful not to break or damage the roots otherwise it really is game over.
Put a little more of your potting material over the top of the roots to fill the pot. Do not under any circumstances pat down the potting soil, the orchid needs little pockets to allow it to breathe.
Getting your orchid back to life
If you see your orchid begin to struggle with the blooms falling off, don’t panic, orchids go through a bloom cycle so this doesn’t necessarily mean the death of your beloved plant. Providing you keep watering it as needed and caring for it, it should bloom again and keep growing.
Begin the process of bringing your orchid back to life by bringing it inside the house (if it isn’t already) and keep watering it once a week. Be sure not to let the roots dry out completely between each watering and remember these plants love a bit of humidity so consider buying a humidity grid or placing it more humid rooms – like the bathroom.
It is also recommended that you fertilize your orchid on a regular basis; once a month is enough and you can buy fertilizers and feeds which slowly drip into the plant over a few weeks to give them consistent nurturing.
You’ll also find that orchids begin to bloom again quite quickly in England because of our cool nights – they enjoy a sudden drop in temperature as this spurs on the cycle – so you’ll hopefully see a difference in your plant quite quickly.
Our main tip is to keep your orchid in your window as this will provide them with the ideal temperature and the right amount of sunlight, guaranteed to bring it back to its original state of health.
Understand your orchid
Orchids are complex plants and their process of bloom and no bloom will continue in some cases for many years. It is extremely normal and absolutely nothing to worry about so don’t throw yours out when the flowers die and keep an eye out for new shoots or stem between the leaves – you can take these as a cutting for a new plant or secure against support to allow to grow.
Follow these tips and you’ll be able to say that you are the master or resurrecting orchids.
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Orchid Care Instructions: How To Cut An Orchid Spike
Cutting Your Orchid’s Spike
After your orchid has finished blooming and all of the flowers have fallen off, there are a few orchid care instructions that you should follow. Although, if you see that the spike has begun to turn brown this is an indicator that it will not bloom again, and using a sterile cutting tool you should cut the spike about one inch above its base because if you don’t then it will just dry out and begin to rot.
One of the great things about Phalaenopsis orchids, the most popular type, are that they have the ability to rebloom over and over again. If you have a Phalaenopsis orchid, there are a few different options of what you can do regarding the spike. After the spike is done blooming, if it is still a healthy green color, the first option you have is to choose to do nothing and you can leave the spike as is.
The second option you have is to cut the spike with a sterile blade back to the first node where the first flower bloomed. By doing this, a new side shoot should emerge from this node. Many orchid growers do not recommend trying to bloom a Phalaenopsis orchid more than once from the same spike, because blooming your orchid repeatedly can exhaust the plant and may result in damaged leaves or flowers.
To avoid exhausting your orchid, after the side shoot’s flowers have fallen off, and to help your orchid redirect its energy into producing new leaves and roots, your third option is to simply cut the spike about one inch above its base using a sterile cutting tool. This can be done regardless of whether or not the spike had turned brown.
Whichever option you choose, you should always remember to use a sterile cutting instrument. You can sterilize the tool by using rubbing alcohol or heating the blade with fire. Once you have cut the spike you should always care for the cut surface with an antifungal treatment. This is something that you can pick up at the store or ground cinnamon can even be used.
Cutting an orchid’s spike for the first time can seem like a very scary task. By following these simple orchid care instructions you should expect, if all other care requirements are adequately being met, you can expect that your orchid will produce beautiful flowers its next blooming cycle.
Next Steps: Where do you go from here?
A couple options:
#1 – More Free Orchid Tips!
At a minimum, I strongly recommending signing up for our orchid tips newsletter (it’s free!). That’ll give you some additional (more detailed) step-by-step tips you can start using with your orchids right away…
#2 – Get Access to ALL My Articles on Orchids…
If you’d like to learn everything you need to know about caring for ALL types of orchids we also have something called the Orchids Made Easy Green Thumb Club.
The Green Thumb Club includes a number of different benefits – including weekly lessons on all different orchid care topics delivered to you in a special, password-protected members area. You also get the opportunity to get YOUR actual questions answered in my weekly “Ask The Orchid Guy” column, which you can check out here.
The Green Thumb Club costs less than a meal at McDonald’s – and ALSO includes all sorts of ADDITIONAL benefits, including exclusive discounts at orchid suppliers from 20-40% off as well access to our “orchid diagnosis tool” which helps you identify what problem might be plaguing your plant.
Because the club is backed by a full 100% money-back guarantee for a full 30 days, if after checking it out you decide that it’s not for you or that you didn’t get value you out of what you learned – no problem! Simply send us an email to let me know, and you’ll receive a fast and courteous refund. Put it this way: If you’re not happy, I’m not happy!
(By the way, this here will give you access to 50% off the cost of membership. A little “gift” for reading this article all the way to the end :-))
All my best,
Ryan “The Orchid Guy” 🙂
IMPORTANT: To learn everything you need to know about caring for your orchids, if you haven’t already I strongly recommend signing up for the “Orchid Care Tips & Secrets Newsletter” my wife and I publish by clicking here.
It’s completely free – and the best part? You can even choose the type of information you’d like to receive (reblooming tips, basics of orchid care, etc.) Join over 20,000 fellow orchid enthusiasts young and old and sign up for our free orchid care newsletter today! 🙂
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