Having a strategy to grow orchids successfully is key to getting results that make you happy and ensure healthy plants. Here are nine habits, see how many you already are doing and create a few more for your routine.
1. Keep tools clean.
Avoid rust, reduce spread of disease, make your tools work and last longer. It’s good to invest in high quality tools and better if you can keep them clean and sharp. Storing them away from moisture reduces rust. A cleaning stone can help remove corrosion and refinishes the surface. Using alcohol, bleach or flame heat helps to disinfect tools between each use.
2. Water the right amount - not too much or too little.
If you have orchids in baskets or mounted with no media then you can water daily. Plants need to dry out after watering so just be sure they aren’t sitting in wet media or pooling water to cause crown rot. If you have orchids in different media such as bark and sphagnum moss then put similar media plants together and water them on schedules that match the media allowing them to dry before the next watering.
3. Fertilize on a schedule
A weak solution (1/4th to 1/2 strength) every two weeks is a good approach. Choose a certain week or date of the month so it is easier to remember. Some plants need a winter pause to go into dormancy and promote spring blooming. Heavy regular fertilizing may result in salt buildup or promote vegetative growth (less blooming).
4. Avoid overcrowding plants
Give them space on a tray using every other opening or place gaps between trays on a bench. Trays at slightly different heights or even hung vertically with plants attached can help with spacing. Good air flow allows plants to dry out and cool off in hot weather. Diseases easily spread when plants are touching or too close.
5. Clean up the ground and clear out weeds
Any dead leaf or flower liter should be cleaned up to avoid disease. Tiny weeds can be pulled out using long tweezers. Look for beetles, snails and slugs or damage to buds or flowers.
6. Write on your plant tags or keep a journal
Keep notes on your tags like when you got your plant, where you purchased it or any other notes like repotting or Keiki status. You can add a colored tag if it is extra special so it is easy to spot. A journal with even more details allows you to look back and see how each month progressed.
7. Go vertical
Make the most of limited space, hang plants and hook them one above another with shade loving plants on the lowest level. Make sure that the spacing between plants is enough for good air flow and that watering the top plants doesn’t overwater the lower ones.
8. Have a quarantine area
When you get new plants or if you find some that need spraying for problems it’s good to have a separate area where you can keep them away from the other plants. You can easily check on them together and look for recovery.
9. Learn from mistakes
Don’t give up if a plant doesn’t do well or dies. Growing orchids well isn’t easy when you consider the wide range of available orchids. If your microclimate isn’t favorable for optimal growth, the plant may struggle. Make note of what grows in your area more easily. Try out plants that cope
best with your conditions. Even the most experienced orchidist will admit not all orchids grow equally well for a given grower. Being patient, learning and adjusting is key for success.
Join us at our General Meeting on August 3. 2021 at 7PM via Zoom.