Orchid Love 101
How to care for your Phalaenopsis Orchid
If you're reading this, I'm guessing you're lucky enough to call yourself a proud owner of an orchid..but probably not lucky enough to know how to keep it alive and blooming! Congrats anyway! Hopefully this post will give you a basic idea on how to keep your baby strong.
Orchids are one of my favourite plants. Despite their reputation for being finicky and difficult, with the right knowledge and proper care, they can give you flowers for years to come.
We get heaps of questions from friends and family asking what to do with their plant? "How much water should I give it?", "How often should I water it?", "How much light does it need?"
The internet is great for answering these questions - but the information given is usually a one size fits all response. In reality, it all comes down to the environment of your home: how much light you get, how hot or cold your home is, what the humidity is like. So we've pull together some of our own tips and tricks so you can get the best out of your orchid.
Its all about location! Remember that Orchids are rain-forest dwellers, they naturally grow under vast canopies of shaded light. They love light, but absolutely hate direct sunlight. Direct sunlight may cause plants to burn, and too little light will prevent plants from flowering. An ideal location is next to a window where the light is bright, behind sheer curtains or blinds so that the plant is still protected from direct sunlight.
Keep it damp, but not saturated! Most websites will tell you to water your orchid every 7-10 days. This is generally pretty good advice, but again depends on how your plant is reacting to its environment. Our orchids come potted in glass vessels, with sphagnum moss and charcoal as their growing medium. I like to gently dig my finger 3-4 centimetres into the moss (very gently - try to avoid touching the roots) and feel how dry it is. My trick is to try and water the orchid just before the moss has dried out completely. Looking at the bottom of the glass vessel for any moisture is also a good indicator for whether your little guy needs any more water. We recommend watering your orchid with 1 shot glass (30ml) of water when the time is right. This method of watering is only recommended while the plant is potted in a vase with no drainage holes. Too much water will drown the plant and you will end up with a sad plant.
Don't give up! Once all the blooms on your orchid have fallen off or died, your plant will now enter its dormant state. It may appear lifeless, but its just knackered from spending all its energy on those beautiful flowers. Here it will rest for 6-9 months building up energy to flower again. Now is the perfect time to re-pot your orchid.
Movin' on up! We recommend re-potting in a clear plastic container with drainage holes. The reason I recommend clear pots is simple: it lets me see how the roots are looking without disturbing the plant. The drainage holes will help you with the watering method needed for the coming months. Here is a pretty good method for watering your orchid once its in its dormant state. You will also want to cut your orchid spike on a angle around the 2nd or 3rd node, this will promote the growth of a new spike were you've made the cut - here's a great photo to give you a better idea of exactly where to cut.
Now is the time to feed! Grab some orchid fertiliser and follow the directions on the back of the bottle, but only use half of the recommended strength - less is always more, you don't want to burn your plants with too many nutrients. I fertilise my orchid once a month with half strength solution.
Finally, remember to check on your plants daily - you should gently wipe off any dust or grime from the leaves with a damp cloth or paper towel and also look out for signs of disease.