Have you always wanted to own some orchids but just thought you would kill them or you did!
Well, don't give up. Sometimes it isn't your fault. The orchid could have had a disease, was root bound or rotting in the pot. Here
is an easy way to enjoy at least one orchid. And once you see how easy orchid growing is, you probably won't stop with one...especially if you attend an orchid show!
If you live in a cold climate, you will probably have to raise your
orchid inside near a window that has a lot of light. You don't need direct sunlight. In fact, that could make your plant unhappy. Orchids love indirect light.
If you live in a warmer climate and have a nice area outside,
like under a tree or on a porch, this could be ideal. You will have to see how much light there is and remember, no direct sunlight, especially because some orchids sunburn easily and go into shock.
I found a lovely area in my yard under the overhang
of my house and had friends help me build an orchid room. We used 2x4's, 1x4's, plastic lattice (small openings) and stainless steel screws. The floor is sand, which allows for good drainage. The small openings on the lattice allow
for breezes and small amounts of rain and light, but nothing severe on a daily basis.
I found that in my area, southern US, the temperature is close to being the same year round. There are a few days in January and February that are a bit cooler,
but so far, all is well.
POTS, POTTING MEDIUM, HANGERS, WATERING AND FERTILIZER
I prefer clay orchid pots. Usually Home Depot carries these in two sizes. An orchid pot has extra holes on the sides
for drainage and air circulation. Price is affordable. In fact, you can have all I speak of here for a very reasonable price, including the orchid!
Because I need a well-draining medium, once the plant has stopped blooming, I remove it from the
original pot being careful not to break any roots. I rinse excess soil and other debris from the roots. Then I spray the roots thoroughly with H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide).
Prepare your pot by adding some orchid bark.
I use the all purpose bark that works for most orchid plants. Since you might be a little unsure of yourself with the orchid, I recommend purchasing an inexpensive one (phalaenopsis are generally easy to care for) and buying a small bag of bark.
I also purchase a block or bag of spagnum moss that is for orchids. I place this on top of the bark and orchid roots. It helps to hold in moisture. It acts like a little blanket and also works great in cooler months to keep
the plant warm.
Partially fill your clay pot with bark and add your orchid being careful to spread out the roots. Add more bark as needed and be sure to get some between the roots. The roots will actually grow on this bark. Add your
spagnum moss to the top.
I like to help my phalaenopsis orchid by allowing it to droop over the pot a bit, like it was hanging from the tree. This keeps the plant from holding water in the crown. It is more of a natural
look as most orchids are tree dwellers. However, some do grow in soil on the ground, thus the name ground orchids.
I do not cut the empty bloom spike off unless it has turned brown and is dead. Many times
kaikis (baby orchid plants) will appear or the plant will rebloom on those green spikes.
If your plant had a wooden stick holding up the bloom spike, you can leave it, but I prefer to remove that. I like the natural
look better. I save these sticks in case I have a plant that wants to "hop out" of the pot. A stick or two strategically placed can hold it to the pot. Also, sometimes there are little plastic clips holding the bloom spike to the
wooden stick. I save them for all sorts of uses, small ones to larger ones. If you need extras, you can find these at many stores like the $ Store. They are in the hair section.
The next item is the orchid hanger.
I like to hang my pots so that they get good air circulation. Orchid hangers are inexpensive. I generally purchase the 17" as I find this to be a perfect size for my orchid room. The ones I use hook on both sides of the clay pot and if attached
correctly, they stay put. The hook also helps me to hang them on the lattice.
In my area, I water twice a week using the shower setting on my hose. I generally choose Wednesday and Sunday. I fertilize
the roots using all-purpose orchid fertilizer once a week from a spray bottle. If I had a plant inside, I would have to judge watching by the amount of humidity in the house. Generally once a week is fine and fertilizing the roots after watering.
If you only have one inside orchid, it's easy to carry the plant to the sink and allow the water to run through the bark and wet the roots. Be sure to use a drip tray so you don't ruin a nice piece of furniture with water from your now dripping orchid.
I also like to save eggshells, wash and air dry them and then grind them to a fine powder in an electric coffee mill. I save these in a small jar and once a month I lightly sprinkle this on the roots of my plants. This adds
calcium. Since I started this practice, I am getting more orchids on each stem.
I keep a small pair of snips in my orchid box for cutting off dead leaves, flowers, roots, etc. After I do this, I thoroughly spray the area I cut
and the snips with H2O2. This helps to prevent disease.
If you still feel you need more help in raising orchids, I have found several good videos on youtube. One of my favorites is Miss Orchid Girl. She is from the European
Union. She has an extensive audience and many photos under her youtube channel.
A note about watering with ice cubes. I have heard that this is not a good practice and I can agree. First, one or two ice cubes may not
be enough water to wet all the roots. They do need water. They just don't like to sit in it or stay that way for long periods of time. Also, this cold ice cube could shock the roots. For me, I don't think this is good and I do not follow