Orchid care has come a long way from the old days. It has been refined and made easier. These plants can now be cultivated anywhere from greenhouses to the comfort of your own home. To make sure your orchids are always healthy and happy, follow these 6 laws of successful orchid care.
Orchids must be given no less than 40% humidity and no more than 70% during the day. Unlike most plants orchids lose moisture very quickly. When the weather is warmer, be sure to provide moisture in any way you can.
Humidity can be increased in many ways: watering the plants more than usual, misting or even relocating them to a more humid place in the house will do. The opposite must be done during cooler temperatures. Too much moisture can also kill the plant so be sure to provide adequate drainage. If you ignore this important requirement, after a few days, you will notice your plants will wilt.
You will know that you are not providing the correct amount of humidity for them through their appearance. Not enough moisture turns leaves yellowish while too much moisture makes the plant fragile.
Most orchids in the wild are found on branches and birch trees. They live there specifically to feed off of the moisture and nutrients surrounding them. Compared to many plants, orchids make use of carbon dioxide more efficiently. That is why proper ventilation is a must to any orchid. Not all types of air are good for orchids. You should avoid cold drafts and dry hot air.
The rule of thumb for orchids is that these plants must be given the maximum amount of sunlight they can stand without causing any injury to them. However, this is quite difficult to tell because sunlight requirements differ from species to species. One way to find out its requirements is through experimenting. You can check if the orchid is getting the proper amount of light by looking at its leaves. Yellow leaves mean it needs less light while dark green ones means it needs more light.
Since most orchids come from tropical countries, extreme cold can damage these plants. Although orchids also need cooler temperature at night to produce blooms, snow and frost can be detrimental to their growth.
Cold temperatures can slow the growth of orchids and can even make their leaves brittle. You can protect these plants through shelters or structures such as greenhouses. Some orchids can stand extreme cold but not for a long time. At the most, an orchid can stand a total of two weeks’ time in a really cold place; more than that will kill them.
Growing on trees, orchids also rely and feed on nutrients from dead leaves and animal droppings. In cultivation, these natural conditions are not available. Providing your orchids with the right kind of fertilizer will make up for this.
Once a month, feed the plant with either liquid fertilizer or ground manure. Be sure though that at the end of each month you wash off the salt residue that builds up due to fertilizers. Another thing to remember is to avoid overfeeding them. Too much fertilizer can burn the plants or can even kill them entirely.
Because there are so many types of orchids, no specific orchid care system can fit all of them. The requirements for the different types can vary hugely from each other.
You can ask the store where you bought them or do some research online. There is a lot of information available if you take a little time to look. In order to be successful in growing orchids you must never skip this important step.
Orchid care is not an exact science because orchids themselves have many species and each one has different needs. If you follow these 6 laws, then in no time you will have grown healthy orchids to last you for years.
Mary Ann Berdak is a Garden & Greenhouse contributing editor and the publisher of OrchidCareZone.com an online destination for orchid growing tips and advice. For more information on caring for your newly purchased plants, download her totally free report, “The 5 Biggest Orchid Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them!)”, at OrchidSecretsRevealed.com.