Orchids, like other plants, have a blooming cycle and a quiet period. During the quiet period, the orchid grows new leaves and stores up energy for the blooming cycle. When it is ready, it will send up one or more spikes from which new blooms will sprout. For certain plants, the blooms may last up to eight weeks or more. Here are some good tips to help you nurture your orchids from the quiet period through the blooming cycle.
The following thoughts on orchid care have been gained from a number of years of experience as an amateur orchid enthusiast and talking with other enthusiasts.
- Every once in a while, give your orchid plant a good watering in the sink, letting the water flow through for a minute or so to flush out the media. Use room temperature water, perhaps from a gallon milk jug that has sat overnight.
- If you have had your orchid for over a year or two, it may need to be repotted. Pick up some media mix from your plant store, carefully remove the plant from the pot and shake out the old media potting mix, rinse the roots, cut off the dead roots, and replace the plant into the pot while filling in the new media around and under the roots. Water it generously when done.
- After your orchid has bloomed, you can do a couple of things with the spike(s). After the blooms have dropped off, you can leave the old spike alone for a while. Keep on feeding your orchid as usual. Sometimes a new spike will sprout from the old one and develop new blooms. If the old spike does not generate a new spike and blooms, in all likelihood it will turn brown and die. In this case, take a sharp knife or gardening scissors and cut the old spike off as near to the base as possible without nicking any leaves. Alternatively, you can remove the old spikes immediately after bloom drop and the plant will grow one or more new spikes in the next three to nine months, depending on growing conditions.
- Spray the leaves and exposed roots often, at least several times per week with a dilute fertilizer solution (or just plain water). It is fine for the roots to be growing above and over the edge of the pot.
- Fertilize your plant once per week with a dilute solution of fertilizer, such as our Orchid Thrive, at the rate of one teaspoon per gallon of water. Add enough solution so that a little drips out the bottom of the pot. Use plain water every fourth week to flush the media. In hot, dry weather, if your orchids are outside, you may need to water them twice per week.
- Make sure your orchid pot can drain well. Either hang it with a wire hanger, or put it in a saucer with gravel so any excess water can drain completely away from the bottom of the pot.
- Avoid direct sunlight that can overheat your orchid plant. Also, avoid direct air flow, such as from a furnace vent. Some indirect airflow such as from an overhead fan is helpful.
- In the summer, hang your orchid outside under a tree to give it humidity and indirect sunlight. Keep on watering and feeding it. In the fall, keep it outside until the night temperature reaches low 50’s°F or high 40’s°F. That will promote new spikes and blooms. When you bring your orchids inside for the winter, you probably should repot them with fresh media. There may be some ants, beetles, and other critters that have taken up residence over the summer.
With this advice on after-bloom care for orchids and orchid growing tips, you and your plants should enjoy many spikes and blooms throughout the year.