How to care for orchids…
So, I am going to be honest here. I tend to kill plants. I don’t mean to, I really love them. But holy moly I’ve killed more than I’d really like to say. I am sure my husband is shaking his head right now as he reads this. Possibly even rubbing his face with exhaustion. But you love me hunny, remember that.
Anyway, the odd thing is that I have been able to keep orchids alive. Which I hear are ones that can feel close to impossible to keep alive. For whatever reason I have resonated with these delicate little plants and we are loving life together.
Orchids are a strange beautiful little plant.
Did you know that they are air plants that grow on the sides of trees?
Or that they do not require any soil to thrive?
And how about the fact that it could take a few years for your orchid to flower again?
Here is some more information on all that!
Orchids do not grow in soil…
…They need ample space to grow so by using “medium” such as bark, moss and/or perlite, it gives the orchids exactly what they need to thrive. Enough coverage to stay protected but enough space and air to grow.
Orchids grow in the air…
…Their seeds are made to float in the air. However, they need a fungus called mycorrhiza in order to actually germinate. Once germinated they eventually land on trees and continue to grow. Their long roots will grab much needed nutrients from the tree they attached themselves to.
They do not need to be watered often…
…They do not like to be wet constantly. This is why soil is not needed for them to thrive. They need air flow and room.
Most people think that these little plants are high maintenance but in reality they are quite simple to live with.
Here are some tips on how to care for your orchids.
Do not do the ice cube trick when it comes to watering.
I have had the pleasure of caring for orchids for over five years now and l gotta say, the ice cube stick to watering just left me scratching my head. I like to give my orchids a good soak in water for only a few minutes once every two weeks. After I soak them, I drain out all the water and they are happy little fellas.
When they are done flowering and the stem starts to die back and turn brown, cut it off at the very base of the plant.
I know it sucks, BUT DO IT ANYWAY. The only way I’d say to leave it is if you saw some new nodes starting to sprout on the stem.
When you start to see roots pouring out, it is time to transplant.
Or you can simply snip off the roots but I would suggest transplanting them instead.
When you see the bottom leaves start to turn brown, CUT THEM OFF.
By cutting the leaves off as close to the base as possible, you are allowing the plant to put more energy into the top good leaves and into flowering.
When the flowers start to die off, TAKE THEM OFF.
By leaving them on the stem dead, the plant is trying to keep them alive. So it is putting all its energy into those dead leaves rather than the leaves, roots and other flower shoots.
When you think your orchid is dead, IT’S NOT!
This one KILLS ME, when someone tells me that their orchid died and they threw it away. My first question is, “were the leaves still green?” Their response is usually, “yes, but the stem was all brown and hollow and there were no more flowers.” Listen my friend, orchid flowers do not last all year. They die back just like any other flowering plant. This does not mean that the whole plant is dead. As long as the leaves are green and plump, that bad boy is ALIVE and WELL! Keep it.
How to transplant your orchids
First thing to do is water your plant the day before so that all the roots are rehydrated but not soggy.
Then you want to build your “medium” which is essentially what protects the orchids root system, like what soil does for plants. I used a mixture of moss and tree mulch. Fill a bucket with however much needed and fill with water. Let the mixture soak for 15-30 minutes.
While your mixture is soaking, take your orchid out of its pot carefully. My roots were so overgrown that it took some massaging to get them loose. Once you have your orchid free, cut all roots that are black, hollow, or over grown. You want to use clean scissors or cutting shears, you do not want to transfer any diseases to the plant.
After you trim all the roots, sprinkle some cinnamon over the roots you cut. Cinnamon is a anti fungal. It will prohibit fungus or bacteria to enter the plant through the root system. After I put a little of my medium mixture on the bottom of the new pot, I sprinkled a little cinnamon on that to.
Place your orchid as high as the rim of the pot and fill the pot with your mixture. You want your plant to be stable. So if you think your are done filling it, take your pot and gently move the plant back and forth. If your plant does not move, then you are good to go. If it moves then pack more mixture in your pot.
There is no need to water your plant after repotting because your mixture had been soaking already. The plant will pull moisture from the bark, moss or perlite that you used. Over the next two weeks you will need to water a little more then usual but after that return to your normal watering schedule.
I have to admit, the thought of repotting my orchids scared me. The thought of taking a chance and possibly killing my little beauties was daunting. The process was nerve wracking until I actually did it. But I have to say, it was super easy and my plants are very happy in their new little homes.
So, if you have some orchids that have roots saying good morning to you everyday, get them into a bigger home yo!
Happy caring for your orchids!