So many people love orchids but are afraid they could NEVER grow such an exotic plant. Not true! I’m here to tell you that growing an orchid can be easier than growing most foliage houseplants!
First, you have to pick the right orchid. Phalaenopsis orchids, also known as the moth orchid, are the easiest to grow and are available in a wide variety of colors and sizes. They bloom for several weeks at a time, are not finicky about indoor temperatures and do not require really bright light.
The best surprise is that once they have finished blooming, almost anyone can get them to bloom again! My orchids are in bloom 9-10 months out of the year. If you follow these simple steps you will be successful too.
• When you bring your orchid home from Hicks Nurseries, the flowers should last 1-2 months. Water your orchid once a week in the cooler months and every other day in the summer. The biggest killer of orchids is letting the orchid sit in water after you have watered it. Be sure to drain the water out of the container.
• Orchids are epiphytes, meaning they grow in rainforests with their roots wrapped around tree limbs for support. They are grown in bark or moss and do not need soil to grow. As long as the roots get water and fertilizer, they will thrive. When you see an orchid with its roots popping out of the pot, don’t get worried. That’s the sign of a happy orchid! As long as the roots look plump and greenish white, the plant is fine. If you see roots turning brown or shriveled, then your orchid is not happy and you need to look at watering.
• Once your orchid has finished blooming, cut back the stem to where the first flower bloomed. (Picture A shows an orchid that has finished blooming) When you cut the stem, make the cut between where the last flower bloomed and the first node below that. (Picture B shows what a node looks like. It is the bump on the stem right below the budding stem.)
• Place the orchid on a windowsill by a north or east facing window. The change in temperature at night by a window will make the orchid want to bloom. They need a 15-20 degree temperature drop at night.
• If the stem starts to brown up past the first good node then you will have to cut the stem again between the next 2 nodes. It’s a game you play trying to get the stem to re-flower.
• Fertilize your orchid with a specialized orchid fertilizer every 2 weeks until you see a flower stem starting to protrude from the node.
• Once you see the plant starting to get a flower stem, stop fertilizing! Giving an orchid fertilizer at this time will not only make the plant flower sooner but will also make the flowers go through their life cycle faster and die sooner. Only fertilize when the plant is not blooming.
After your orchid begins to bloom, you can move it anywhere you would like in your house. It only needs to be by the window when it is trying to bloom. If you follow these simple steps, you too will have a beautiful flowering orchid for most of the year!
As part of our Annual Houseplant Sale, Orchids are 30% off now through February 17th, 2015. Stop in to shop our fresh selection!
Attend our free orchid seminar on Saturday, January 17th at 1pm. You can also stop by our main greenhouse any time from 11am-4pm on Saturday & Sunday January 17th & 18th to watch our experts demonstrate how to re-pot an orchid.