How To: Take Care of an Orchid Plant
So, you’ve been the lucky recipient of an orchid plant–congratulations!
Once the gorgeous blooms start dying off, perhaps that feeling of joy has turned to one of panic. Questions pop into your head…along with the premonition that you surely cannot keep this thing alive.
What now? When the flowers die is the plant dead? Do I put it outside or inside? How often do I water it? Should I just throw it away since the flowers fell off?
Stop panicking…believe it or not, orchids aren’t as high maintenance as their reputation makes them out to be! That said, they definitely aren’t as low maintenance as that cactus on your desk! But, just follow a few general tips and you can enjoy your orchid plant for months, maybe years, to come. There’s a reason why ‘orchid people’ are an infatuated bunch of folks–they can’t resist the unique beauty of the breathtaking plants!
Read on for basic info–applicable to most orchid species–along with great orchid resources for detailed info.
Take it From the Top
Congrats–someone must really care for you to send you such a gorgeous plant! So, take good care of it!
-When you receive your new orchid, feel the ‘soil’ (orchids use a different potting mix than other plants and do not survive in plain old dirt/soil) to see if it is very dry. If it is, water it–lightly!–over a sink.
-Orchids need light! Don’t stick it in a dark corner, but don’t put it in direct light either. Filtered, indirect sunlight–like on a nice window sill–is best.
-Enjoy the show! Appreciate the flowers while your plant is still in bloom. Different species keep their blooms for different amounts of time. If your plant is blooming for quite some time, make sure to water it–lightly!–once every 7 days and to make sure it is getting enough light.
-Figure out what kind of orchid you’re dealing with. There are many different species, which require different care. Some of the most popular are Cattleya, Phalaenopsis, Dendrobium and Oncidium. Posted below are three popular species; see the resources section at the very bottom of this post for a more detailed list in order to identify what kind of orchid you’ve got and how to care for it.
So you’ve enjoyed your orchid in all its blooming splendor…now what? Well, it’s time to repot!
-Your orchid most likely came in a small, decorative flowerpot with minimal drainage. You must repot it so it has a bigger home to flourish in.
-Clay pots, shallow but wide are the best. If you cannot find a special orchid pot with holes for good drainage online or at a local nursery, then head to the Home Depot and grab a shallow terracotta ‘azalea pot‘.
-Orchids cannot survive in potting soil. They require a special mix. This is a great one; if you cannot find orchid mix at your local nursery/home improvement store, then look for fir bark at Home Depot or Lowe’s.
-Fill the pot about 1/3 of the way with the orchid mix.
-Carefully remove your orchid from the decorative pot it arrived in–taking care not to damage the plant or roots. You may have to use a screwdriver or knife–just be sure to clean it with alcohol first–to gently pry it out.
-Fill the rest of the pot with orchid mix.
-Water lightly and place it back in its favorite spot with plenty of light. Don’t water for another 6 days or so.
-Keep an eye on it and make sure not to over-water it! Water your plants over a sink and never let it sit in water. Always water in the morning!
-Fertilize with orchid fertilizer once a month. Make sure the fertilizer you buy is specially made for orchids.
Once you’ve repotted your orchid, you need to keep an eye on it to look for signs of sickness or distress.
-Your orchid leaves should be a medium green color. Very dark green leaves mean your orchid may not be receiving enough light; lighter green leaves means it is getting too much light. Adjust accordingly!
-If your orchid starts to get blotchy or damaged looking leaves, hold off on watering. It may be getting “root rot” from over-watering it. If the leaves and new growth turn black, then it is definitely getting root rot.
-If you see signs of distress, then seek help! Check out the orchid resources listed below for more in-depth help.
Orchid Help: Care, Identification and Shopping
Orchid Care Tips: Beautiful Orchids
Orchid Identification: My Orchid Care
Orchid Care for Specific Species: Aloha Orchids
Send Orchids: FromYouFlowers.com