Orchids are exotic and beautiful, but they require you to care for them differently than any other plant in the house. Freshly bought from the store, flowers are in full bloom and come in a variety of gorgeous colours. What this guide hopes to teach people is basic indoor care for orchids, to help them continue to bloom after the first set of flowering.
What is important to first understand about orchids is that they do not grow in soil. In nature, orchids wrap their roots to trees and branches, absorbing rain drops and nutrients off of trees. They are well adapted to dry conditions, and store water in their thick stems, roots, and leaves.
Place the orchid in a pot that drains easily. Clay pots are the best choice, although plastic containers, with holes for draining, can also be used. Make sure that it is big enough to accommodate all the roots, with a bit of room for a year’s worth of growth. For potting, use material such wood bark chips, stones, or treefern. This makes sure that the roots are allowed to breathe and the pot can be easily drained. A pot that cannot be drained, where the roots of the orchid sit in the water, will very quickly kill the plant. Orchid roots need to be able to breathe, and sitting in water will suffocate them.
Most orchids require watering once a week. Ensure that the plant is completely dry before watering. The most effective watering method is to take the pot to a sink and completely soak the pot until the water begins draining from the bottom. Allow all the water to drain out – this is crucial – before returning the orchid to its original place in your home.
In terms of humidity, orchids prefer a humidity level of 50% or higher. If your house is dry, you can mist them, or use a humidifier in the room the orchid sits.
Light and temperature
Orchids enjoy plenty of light, although it is important to keep them out of direct sunlight, which can burn them. Aim for around 6 hours of light every day. A good way to see if they are receiving enough light is to check the color of the leaves. If leaves are dark green, it means they are not receiving enough light. Optimal light conditions for re-flowering will cause leaves to grow lighter, and almost slightly yellowish.
In nature, orchids are used to significant diurnal temperature variations. That is, they grow best when there is a large change in temperature during day and night. It is difficult to achieve this swing indoors, although it is possible. Committed orchid lovers can try setting thermostats to 10 degrees lower at night to mimic this effect. Although different types of orchids prefer different temperature ranges, it is a good rule of thumb to ensure that orchids are kept in a room with a temperature within the range of 50-90 degrees for optimal growth.
In general, orchids do not require large amounts of fertilizer. However, to encourage them to flower regularly, a 20-10-20 solution once a week, diluted to ¼ its recommended strength will suffice. Once a month, it is beneficial to use water to flush out any accumulated fertilizer particles that have not been absorbed.
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