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Orchid Growing for Beginners

Orchid Growing for Beginners

Even beginners can grow orchids successfully with a little guidance and attention to detail. Orchids may seem like challenging plants to grow, but they are actually no harder to grow than typical houseplants. Some types of orchids can be delicate and more difficult to grow, but the moth orchid is a surprisingly simple one to master, even for beginners. Moth orchids are also one of the most readily available orchids. Pay attention to the growing environment and you can help your orchid thrive.

Temperature and Humidity

Different types of orchids have different temperature and humidity needs. A moth orchid, for example, will grow well at typical home temperature and humidity levels, just as other houseplants will. If your home is exceptionally dry, an orchid plant may have trouble growing. Try increasing the humidity level in your plant's immediate environment for better growing success.

Light

Different types of orchids need different amounts of light, too. Moth orchids will thrive in lower lighting conditions. Try placing a moth orchid in a window with eastern exposure, where it will receive morning sunshine and afternoon shade. You can tell if your orchid isn't getting the correct amount of light by observing its leaves. If the light is too low, orchid leaves turn deeper green in color. If there's too much light, leaves look bleached out or yellowish. Sunburned orchid leaves may develop brown or black patches.

Fertilizing

Fertilize an orchid once per week with a weak fertilizer solution during the active growing season. An ideal fertilizer ratio is 20 nitrogen, 20 phosphorus, and 20 potassium. Mix the fertilizer solution at one-quarter of the recommended strength. Water the orchid first, and then apply the fertilizer over the moist media.

Water

Correct watering is crucial for an orchid's overall health. Insert your finger into the media in the pot to determine if it's dry or moist. Don't water until the media feels fully dry or you might overwater the orchid. Allow water to sit uncovered for 24 hours at room temperature before using it to water an orchid. Pour the water directly into the orchid pot until the water level comes up to the rim of the pot. Allow the orchid to soak for about 15 minutes, and then drain out the water completely. After the pot drains, return the orchid to its growing location.

Repotting

Examine your orchid in the spring to see if it needs to be repotted. When potting media decomposes or when the roots become crowded, it's time to repot to ensure that the orchid gets sufficient nutrients. You'll need fresh bark mix, a larger pot, pruning shears, scissors, a blunt knife, and gardening gloves. Remove the orchid from its current pot and loosen the roots. Use the blunt knife to loosen the root ball, if necessary. Soak the roots in water for a few minutes to soften them. After soaking, disentangle the roots and rinse away all potting material. Trim away dead roots with scissors or pruning shears. Hold the plant in one hand with the roots in the new pot. Add the fresh bark mix, pouring it around the roots and working it in gently with your other hand. Fill the pot completely, and water the orchid generously. Wait one or two weeks before watering again.

Pruning

Careful pruning helps encourage more flowers and reblooming. The best time for an overall pruning is after an orchid blooms and the flowers have dropped. Apply sterilizing solution to sharp scissors to prevent disease. When an orchid plant is approaching the dormant season, cut back full stalks to one inch above the plant base, removing all nodes. Nodes are located beneath the base of spikes where stems attach. Nodes are the locations of possible new flowers. Remove any dead or wilted leaves.

After-Bloom Care for Orchids

After your orchid blooms, allow it to fade completely. Then, when the stem begins to yellow, clip off the flower spike and the node to the base where the stem begins. Cutting the entire stem will encourage the orchid to direct plant energy into new root development. This helps make the orchid stronger and healthier, and you'll also increase new blooms.

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