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Orchid Rules

Updated on May 23, 2014
phals | Source
phals | Source

Orchid Mama's guide to pretty happy orchids


Do you know what kind it is?
Are the blooms fading?
Is it out of bloom?
Still in the original pot?
Does it have roots hanging out?
What kind of water have you been using to keep it moist?

They need to be in bright, indirect light, sunlight will kill most orchids but not all.

OK there's the basic questions, orchids are picky and like consistency more than any other plant I've ever grown.


Do you know what kind it is and is it in bloom currently?

This will help you to identify what kind of orchid you have, this will help you to know about light and water requirements and how to get your plant to re-bloom. If it has large oval green leaves that are growing from the center of the plant, it may be a phalaenopsis. These are the most common sold at retail and fortunately the easiest to grow. When in doubt look on the web, my favorite site is, lots of great info and lots of pictures to help you identify your plant.

Are the blooms fading?

If the blooms are fading, pluck them off, where they attach to the stem. Reason being, the plant keeps sending energy to the spent bloom and it could use that energy to keep the other blooms vibrant.

Is it out of bloom?

If there are no blooms left on the stalk and no new buds waiting to open, you can cut the old bud stalk off. First wipe a pair of scissors with alcohol to sterilize them, then cut the stalk off near the dirt. This allows the plant to send all of its energy to the leaves and roots ensuring its survival to bloom again next year.

Still in the original pot?

If it's still in the original pot and the roots are hanging over the edge, it needs to be transplanted into a larger container. Don't be scared of this process, I do it on my desk at work, as orchids are tidy plants without long ungainly roots. Find orchid growing soil, miracle gro makes a good one and it has fertilizer pellets in the soil.

Find a pot a little bigger, wash it with hot water and dish soap, let it dry and you're ready. Flip the pot upside down over newspapers on the table, gently working all of the old potting medium from between the roots. This is a good time to make sure the roots are fat and healthy, (they'll look like fat little green fingers), check for any insects or eggs, no? Good.

Put a little bit of the new dirt in the bottom of the pot and tuck in the roots (be very gentle with this part) into the new pot and gently tuck the new dirt around the roots. Gently water the plant, enough to make the soil a little moist but not sopping wet. Insert chopstick to gauge future water needs. If it doesn't have moss on top, try using some, it helps to keep the soil from dehydrating and they look nicer. You can purchase moss at any garden store in small quantities.

Your orchid is now happy, healthy and ready to grow. Be patient about the re-blooming, some only bloom once a year, but keep misting and they'll reward you with a new bud stalk and a fresh set of flowers. I have one that has been in bloom for the past seven months, it just keeps setting new buds, its the one in the top picture.

What kind of water have you been using and how have you been watering?

You need purified water, they HATE chlorination, they don't need a lot of water, 4 oz per week is plenty. They also hate cold water, that ice cube thing is a myth, they're tropical plants and don't like ice. I use lukewarm water 1/3 warm and 2/3 cool is good. If it feels it feels warm but not hot it's perfect for the plant. You can de-chlorinate your own water by letting it sit out uncovered, a good part of the chlorine will evaporate.

Don't let water stand in the pot, their roots will get mushy and it will kill them quickly. Misting them is nice and a great way to check them on a regular basis. I mist mine, now 6 in total, every other day. Not a lot of water, just enough to turn any exposed roots back to a dark green and to moisten the soil evenly. Don't let water stand on the leaves, they'll get little icky yellow spots and the leaf will die. Put a bamboo chopstick in the pot, makes a great way to tell if the bottom of the plant is dry, just flip it over and let it dry out, I've been using the same chopsticks for a year or more and they're not decomposing because the plant is never that wet.

Please keep it out of direct sunlight, at a temperature between 65-85 degrees and out of drafts. During the dry winter months a humidifier can be used to help keep the plants happy (your skin and furniture will like it too), as they prefer a humidity of 20-30% and the average winter humidity level inside is around 8-15%.

That's basically it, let me know if you have other questions or any problems arise.

phals | Source


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