- Author: Andrea Peck
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Andrea Peck UCCE Master Gardener
There is nothing like an orchid in bloom. The lanky stem that reaches into infinity, the perfect row of flowers, often delicately scented, the lush green of the leaves, and even the gnarled gray-green roots that reach outward from beneath the bark.
But, it isn't always lush and scented and floral. Sometimes getting the darn thing to bloom turns into a series of maddening decisions that end in a bloomless houseplant relegated to a dusty corner.
Following a few simple orchid commandments should have your plant flowering for months---if you're lucky, you may even see blooms more than once a year.
There is often a misconception that because the orchid is a tropical plant, it will grow well in low-light and high moisture---like the bathroom. But, orchids demand light to bloom. If your orchid is in a low-light locale, move it to an east or west facing window---one that gets direct light for a few hours a day. During the hotter season, make sure the orchid does not develop burning of the leaves---if you see this on your plant, move it to a slightly less sunny spot, or pull a curtain on those really hot days.
Your orchid often comes from the store in a plastic or solid container. Over time this setup has a tendency to hold in excess moisture and lead to rot. The orchid needs sufficient air circulation and drainage. It is worth it to get an orchid-specific container that has holes along the sides. Wait until after your plant has finished blooming and then carefully replant it using an orchid planting mix.
Watering and Fertilizing
Overwatering means certain death for most orchid plants. Water once weekly and allow the water to drain thoroughly. Rinse off the leaves gently to remove dust buildup. If the weather is particularly hot and dry, you can leave a dish of water near your plant to humidify the air. Fertilize monthly using a 20-20-20---or use the ''weak-weekly'' method preferred by growers. That means diluting the monthly recommended amount of fertilizer and using 1/4th the solution during your weekly watering.
With your orchid in the right place, the right pot, and on the right watering and feeding schedule, you'll soon see blooms---keep your eyes peeled, the camouflaged stalk will sneak up on you.
Growing Orchids, The Farmers Almanac: https://www.almanac.com/plant/orchids
The Orchid Society: https://www.aos.org/
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