Category Archives: How to take care of orchids

Orchid Not Blooming: Buds Not Opening

Hey guys,

Today’s question comes all the way from Scotland:

Dear Danny,

I am very happy I found your website, and could email as well.  I have a problem with my orchids here.  It was blooming ery nicely for two years, and this year, it even had more buds than last year.

But the trouble is – for two months already, the flowers were just buds and don’t seem to bloom, full bloom, I mean.  I thought I must have over-watered it, which I think I did because when I took it out of my pot, some of the roots were rotten.

And so I tried to remove those rotten ones, and put new mix of wood and broken clay which I found in our garden, plus some kind of moss.  But even with this, the buds do not seem to open up.  What shall I do?

Thank you very much for any advise you can give.  I am just a beginner and got so much satisfaction with my three pots of orchids.  Imagine, they kept on blooming from April to October last year.  And even this year, the two pots of orchids have still their flowers until now.

They have been there since April, and I think the flowers will last until October again.  Except, of course, for that other pot.  But you know, that pot of orchids buds were there since June, some have withered (three of them) but the other buds are still hanging around.  I just hope they will also open up.

God bless you, dear Danny.

Sister Mary

And here’s my answer:

Hi Sister Mary,

You’re spot-on with thinking that over-watering may have stopped the buds opening as this is the top cause of this particular problem.

Both cutting off the rotten roots and re-potting, as you have done, will usually help solve the problem. Ensure that the mix isn’t packed to tightly in the pot as orchids require good air circulation around the roots (in the wild, most orchids attach themselves to trees or rocks rather than growing in the ground like other types of flowers). A loose potting mix will also allow water to drain from the pot easily reducing the chance of root-rot.

A good fertilizer can also aid flower growth (check out my article on fertilizers here: http://blog.care-of-orchids.info/2011/08/22/orchid-fertilizers-how-to-fertilize-orchids/). I’ve heard that potash (ash from burned wood) can help with flowering because it contains potassium, which promotes flower growth but i haven’t tested it myself – if you try using potash, do please let me know how successful it is.

Other causes of buds that don’t flower can include insufficient light, low humidity or low temperatures, however as you have other orchids in the same locality that are doing fine, I would surmise that these factors would not be the cause.

On a side-note, the maintenance of the surrounding area when taking care of orchids is crucial to their success.  If you are in need of space or of quick maintenance, consider Raleigh tree removal as a great way to make this process an easy one.

Danny

If you have anything you’d like to share on this topic,please leave a comment below :)

How To Take Care of Orchids

Hey Guys,

In this post, I want to provide you with some general information on how to take care of orchids.

How you take care of your orchids will vary depending on the genus and species of orchid you are growing (check out some of the most popular types of orchid here) and your geographical location as well as smaller factors such as the type of mix your orchid is potted in.

Despite these differences, there are also many similarities in the field of orchid care and in this post I will be discussing general advice that can be applied to almost all orchids in almost all situations.

I’ve split the post into five categories that are perhaps the most important factors to successfully taking care of orchids; Light, Water, Fertilizer, Temperature and Humidity.

It is these environmental factors that decide whether or not an orchid will survive when growing in the wild – domestic orchids have the added advantage that their carer (you) can manipulate their surroundings to create the optimum environment for them to thrive.

Get these right and you will have beautiful blooming orchids that you can be proud of :)


Light

Sunlight is a requirement for all life in the Plant Kingdom.

The process of photosynthesis means orchids can convert carbon dioxide into sugars, using energy from sunlight.

Orchid leaves act like solar panels that collect the sun’s energy, so it is important tho make sure your orchid is situated somewhere where it is exposed to plenty of daylight or it will die.

Conversely, if an orchid is placed in direct sunlight, the sun’s rays can damage the leaves, so maintaining the optimum balance is vital.

Most indoor orchids should ideally be placed close to a window but not in direct sunlight. If you choose to place your orchid on a windowsill, ensure that it is not exposed to direct sunlight by using shades or blinds.

The color of your orchids foliage is a great indication of whether it is getting too much or too little light. If your orchid has vibrant bright green leaves, it is getting an optimum amount of sunlight.

Cool, dark green leaves indicate that your orchid is getting insufficient light, whilst warm yellow or red foliage indicates too much light.

Black spots or white areas with a black rim are signs that your orchid has been sunburned.

Water

The next factor vital to an orchid’s survival (and all terrestrial life) is water.

Water is required for many of the biochemical reactions that occur within the plant as well as performing many other essential functions for life.

The frequency of watering will depend on your geographical location and the temperature and the humidity of your orchid’s environment so advising to water it once a week or once every ten days would not be very good advice.

Therefore, orchids should be watered as soon as the medium they are potted in is almost dry to the touch. A useful technique is to poke your pinky finger into the potting media to see how moist it is. If it feels dry or nearly dry, it is time to water your orchid. If it is moist, your orchid doesn’t need watering.

Most orchids should be watered by thoroughly rinsing the potting media with collected rainwater at room temperature (and a little fertilizer – see below) and then allowing the excess water to drain out of the bottom of the pot. This process should be performed twice.

The video below is a great tutorial on how you should water your orchid.



Allowing excess water to drain is very important as most orchids require a good circulation of air around the roots, which pockets of water can prevent. If this happens the roots will become soft, squidgy and pungent and start to rot (learn more about root rot here).

Fertilizer

Fertilizer provides your orchid with needed nutrients that help it to grow and remain healthy.

In the wild, orchids will get their nutrients from surrounding debris such as rotting leaves. Domestic orchids will receive traces of nutrition from rainwater you give to them (see above).

You should also supply your orchids with nutrients every time you water them by diluting a little fertilizer in the water.

Three of the most important nutrients an orchid needs are Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium and many orchid fertilizers are labelled using what is known as the NPK ratio; N for Nitrogen, P for Phosphorous and K for Potassium.

A good balanced orchid fertilizer, such as this one, has an NPK of 20-20-20, which basically means that the fertilizer contains 20% Nitrogen, 20% Phosphorous and 20% Potassium. The other 40% is made up of other elements, molecules and minerals.

A balanced fertilizer is ideal for most orchids, however a notable exception are orchids growing in fir bark potting media. These orchids will need a higher concentration of Nitrogen because the Nitrogen is also used by the bacteria that is decaying the bark. Therefore a 30-10-10 fertilizer is a better choice in this situation.

Only a very small amount of fertilizer needs to added to your water, so don’t go overboard – orchids have adapted to scavenging for whatever nutrients come their way.


Temperature

Most orchids will be live happily in normal household temperatures that are comfortable for humans, so don’t assume that you need to provide your orchids with the sub-tropical temperature it may have in the wild.

The only problems you might experience is if your orchid gets too cold during the winter nights (when the heating has been turned off). If you notice your orchid weakening at this time of year, you may have to increase the temperature of your home by leaving the heating on a little in the evening.

Temperatures that are too high can also damage your orchid although this is really only a problem if you live in a region with a particularly high climate. An average temperature of between 60 degees Fahrenheit and 80 degrees Fahrenheit will cater for the needs of almost all orchids.

Humidity

The final factor to consider is humidity of the environment around your orchid.

Orchids take in water from the air through their leaves for the same reasons that water is needed to be sucked up through the roots.

Similar to the advice given above in the ‘Temperature’ section, most orchids will be fine in the average household, without the need for any additional humidity. Your orchid should be getting enough water from their roots.

Saying that, some orchid growers have had success by increasing the humidity levels around their orchid.

Humidity can be increased artificially by misting your orchid with a spray bottle or using a humidity tray.

Misting should be performed early in the day so that the majority of the water will have evaporated by night time. Droplets that remain on the orchid’s foliage for extended periods can result in rotting.

A humidity tray is simply a tray of water that sits below your orchid pot, increasing the humidity around your orchid as the water evaporates and rises. You can buy them from Amazon or other retailers or check out this page to learn how to construct your own humidity tray.