How to Grow and Care for Orchids

Posted by in Home Improvement Tips, on February 26, 2016

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This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook visits a tropical botanic garden to learn how to care for orchids as houseplants. (See below for a shopping list, tools, and steps.)

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Shopping List for Growing and Caring for Orchids:
– Potted orchid
– Tray and pebbles, used to prevent overwatering
– Orchid fertilizer
– Electric fan, used to provide ventilation
– Plastic pot or clay pot with side vents, for repotting the orchid
– Growing media (such as sphagnum moss, perlite, coconut husk chips, phalaenopsis, or diatomite)

Tools List for Growing and Caring for Orchids:
– Hand pruners, used to trim plants

Steps for Growing and Caring for Orchids:
1. To prevent overwatering, fill a tray with pebbles, then add enough water to just barely cover the pebbles.
2. Set the potted orchid on top of the pebbles.
3. Another way to water an orchid is to hold the plant over a sink, then soak it until the water drains out the bottom of the pot. Wait until all excess water drains out of the pot.
4. Give an orchid a thorough watering no more than once a week.
5. Add orchid fertilizer the day after watering, once a week.
6. Orchids need ventilation. Use an electric fan to circulate the air and leave plenty of space in between and underneath plants. Don't bunch orchids too closely together.
7. If your orchid produces green foliage but no flowers, gradually move the plant to a brighter spot. However, avoid direct sunlight.
8. Orchids are more likely to bloom when there's only a 10 degree change between daytime and nighttime temperatures.
9. To encourage new blooms, wait until all the old blooms have died back, then count the nodes up from the bottom. Use hand pruners to cut the plant just above fourth node.
10. It's typically best to wait two years before repotting an orchid.
11. A plastic pot is useful because it retains moisture, but most orchids do well in a clay pot with side vents.
12. Orchids grow in growing media (not soil), such as sphagnum moss, perlite, coconut husk chips, phalaenopsis, diatomite, or any mixture of these organic materials.
13. When using sphagnum moss, be sure to first soak the moss in water before filling the pot.

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