Care advice for orchidsA spot for your orchid
Pick a spot for your orchid that receives light but never direct sunshine. The ideal location for an orchid is in front of an east-facing window: this provides a lot of light in the morning, and, later in the day, shade when the sun is stronger.
The colour of your orchid leaves is one of the best indicators of orchid health. Leaves changing from bright green to yellow is a sign that the plant is receiving too much light. Conversely, dark green leaves and blooms falling off indicate that the plant's location is too dark.
An orchid will lose all of its blooms if its position is too cold and it's receiving too much or too little water. Make sure your orchid is never in a location colder than 15ºC.
Do not place your orchid near fruit or vegetables. These emit ethylene gas, which can cause sudden orchid flower loss.
Orchids prefer temperatures ranging from 20ºC to 22ºC. Take care that the temperature never drops below 15°C or exceeds 30°C. The hot summer sun can burn an orchid's leaves. During the summer, you can either use curtains for shade or reposition your orchid in the middle of the room. Leaves changing from green to yellow is a sign that an orchid is overexposed to light.
- How often you water your orchid depends on the time of year.
Every 5–7 days during the summer provides sufficient water.
During the winter, watering every 7–10 days should suffice.
In the spring, give the orchid more water as the daylight increases, and, in the autumn, less water as the daylight decreases.
- The best watering method is to dunk the orchid's base into lukewarm water. Leave the plant to soak up water, and then allow it to drain thoroughly before returning it to its pot. The soil should be dry before the orchid is watered again. Rough soil mixes dry out more quickly and, therefore, should receive more water.
- If your orchid is in an arrangement, making it difficult to dunk in water, follow this rule of thumb: use three ice cubes per plant every week. Just add ice! This will allow you to enjoy your beautiful orchid arrangement for the longest time.
- Never pour water into the centre of the orchid, but into the potting soil (where no leaves grow).
- You can give the plant special orchid fertiliser once per month (once every two months during winter). The best orchid fertiliser contains the following nutrient ratio: 5% nitrogen, 6% phosphorus and 7% potassium. This ratio can always be found on the fertilizer packaging. Dissolve the fertilizer in the water, and then dunk the plant into it.
- Always use potting soil composed of bark and peat block because it is specially developed for orchids. This special fertilizer can be purchased at garden centres and florists.
- There are two reasons for repotting an orchid:
1. When the plant outgrows its pot.
2. When your orchid has stopped growing new flower stems.
- Carefully remove the orchid from the pot, being careful not to damage its roots. Remove any dead or unhealthy roots. After repotting your orchid, water it moderately for the next 2–4 weeks. Once every 7-10 days is sufficient.
A keiki on your orchid
Mealybugs or other insects in your orchid
Sometimes a mini orchid will grow on a larger orchid. The small plantlet is called a keiki, which means 'baby' in Hawaiian. If the keiki has 3–4 aerial roots, you can remove it from the larger orchid and pot it with special soil. Make sure that the soil stays moist (but not wet!).
Getting an orchid to rebloom:
Mealybug-infested orchids can be treated with an organic, water-soluble herbicide.
A Phalaenopsis orchid can bloom for 3–6 months. If your orchid has stopped blooming, but its stem is still green, you can snip it off above the third 'eye' or node. How do you locate the third eye? Thick nodes (small bumps) can be found along the length of the stem. These are called 'eyes'. Starting from the bottom, count the number of eyes as you move up the stem.
If the stem is too dry, it is best to cut it back entirely. After doing this, place the orchid in a location that is about 7 degrees cooler, but continue to care for it as you did when it was in bloom. After a while, a shoot will emerge and a new stem will develop. It takes about a hundred days for an orchid to rebloom.