As orchid growers, we are often asked the question, “My orchid seems to be growing well and it looks healthy, but I have not been able to get it to bloom again. Why is this?”
The answer is often a simple modification to the amount of light and/or a change in temperature to kick start a blooming cycle.
Not all orchids have the same cultural requirements, so it is important to first identify the type of orchid you have – this is essential!
Refer to these web pages for care guidance for your specific type of orchid: Cattleya, Dendrobium, Oncidium, Paphiopedilum, Phalaenopsis, and Vanda. Here you will find light, temperature, humidity and feeding guidance.
In addition to making slight modifications to your orchids environment, it's important to note that all orchid growers need patience. Most orchids bloom seasonally or just annually. This is because there are certain temperature and/or light changes that occur during the year that trigger flowering. Plants need specific amounts of light each day to be able to convert food (fertilizer) and water into energy. This energy is then used to power the processes required for the plant to grow and bloom.
If your plant is receiving adequate water and food (the plant looks lush and healthy, leaves are a nice dark green) but does not flower or only produces a few flowers, then chances are it is not getting enough light. You should try to gradually increase the amount of light your plant is receiving (leaves should be a medium-green).
For simplicity sake, light requirements can be divided into four levels:
Don't Forget Night
Some Cattleyas initiate spikes in response to the longer, uninterrupted nights of winter. Therefore, all else being equal, they will only flower when they receive the adequate amount of night hours (although this can vary significantly between Cattleya species).
Temperature plays an important role in flowering. Most standard Phalaenopsis for example, require cooler nights and days (60-75 °F) to initiate spikes. These cooler temps not only initiate the Phalaenopsis spike, but can also influence the number of flowers produced on that spike. This is why in our area of the south Phalaenopsis plants bloom primarily from winter to spring. This may differ if you are located in the north. On the other hand, many Dendrobiums like it hot, so they will typically flower from mid-summer to fall.
We hope these tips bring about the ultimate reward of a re-blooming orchid. For more information visit EasyOrchidGrowing.com and be sure to watch our Orchid Care videos. Happy Blooming!
Orchids can be broadly classified into two categories: monopodial and sympodial plants. Whether an orchid is monopodial or sympodial depends on how many stems and root systems it has.
Monopodial Orchids Have One Root System
Monopodial orchids have one stem, or, technically speaking, one root system. “Mono” is Greek for “one,” and “podia” translates from Greek as “foot” or “leg.” Since plants don’t have feet, podia is used to describe their roots. “Monostemic” technically means “one stem,” but monopodial is often used to describe monostemic orchids because monopodial orchids usually only have one stem, and orchids with one stem always have one root system.
All of a monopodials’ leaves and flowers grow from its single stem, unless one of the nodes at the base of the stem sprouts a basal keiki. A basal keiki is a little stem, and can grow into a fully, beautiful stem, but it’s not a complete orchid in its own right. It lacks a root system, sharing the root system of the main stem. Thus, while monopodial orchids may develop basal keikis and eventually can have several stems, they always have only one root system.
Significantly, monopodial orchids don’t have pseudobulbs. Any water reserves they have are in their roots and leaves.
Many phalaenopsis, paphiopedilum and vanda orchids are monopodial.
Sympodial Orchids Have Multiple Root Systems
Sympodial orchids are characterized by their multiple root systems. “Sym” can be translated from Greek into English as “with,” “joint,” “together” and “sharing.”
A sympodial orchid has a stem that grows pretty close to the ground, although their flower spikes are sometimes mistaken for stems. From this low-growing stem, which is called a rhizome, sprout pseudobulbs, one growing from the base of the previous one. Each pseudobulb grows its own flower spike and root system, hence the name sympodial.
Pseudobulbs look like flower bulbs, but they aren’t bulbs. Their main purpose is to store water, providing a reserve supply should the growing medium around the flower dry out.
Cattleya, cymbidium, dendrobium and oncidium orchids are sympodial.
Caring for Monopodial and Sympodial Orchids
Monopodial and sympodial orchids have many similar needs, but there are two minor points where the care they need differs.
First, repotting sympodial orchids can be slightly more involved than repotting monopodial ones. Repotting monopodial orchids is pretty straight-forward. The plant should go in the center of the pot so it can grow out towards the edge of the potting medium in all directions. Because the pseudobulbs of sympodial orchids can grow in any matter of patterns, it can sometimes take a little more creativity to center a sympodial orchid in a pot. Additionally, some pseudobulbs, particularly new ones with young root systems, may need to be anchored with clips or other methods.
Second, monopodial orchids usually need more regular waterings than sympodial ones. Because monopodial orchids lack the pseudobulbs that sympodial orchids have, monopodials will dry out faster if they aren’t well watered. In general, monopodial orchids should be watered as their potting medium becomes dry. Sympodial orchids can often go a little while after their medium dries out before they need water.
Both monopodial and sympodial orchids are fun to grow and become beautiful plants. For more information on different types of orchids and orchid care, visit www.EasyOrchidGrowing. Happy Blooming!
Orchids sometimes sprout baby plants, or keikis, from their flower stems. Literally translated, “keiki” is Hawaiian for “the little one” -- and that’s just what keikis are. They’re little orchid plants.
Why are Keikis Produced?
Mature orchids may produce keikis for a variety of reasons. For instance, some genera, such as phalaenopsis and dendrobium orchids, are prone to create keikis. Many times, however, keikis are created when an orchid is stressed. If an orchid is dying, asexually producing a keiki may be its best chance at passing on its genes.
Because keikis are produced asexually, without pollination, each keiki is genetically identical to its mother plant. Once mature, they’ll have the same flowers as the mother plant.
How Do You Identify Keikis?
Keikis look like little plants growing on the stem of a parent plant. On phalaenopsis orchids, they usually occur on the nodes along the stem. On dendrobiums, they’re typically at the end of the cane, which is where the hormones necessary to produce a keiki accumulate.
What Do You Do with Keikis?
If you recognize a keiki growing on one of your orchids, the first thing you should do is check the health of the mother plant. Because keikis are often induced by stress, a new keiki may be a sign that your orchid isn’t doing well. You ought to check all of the plants conditions, but there are two specific things to pay attention to:
To remove a keiki, simply cut it off with a sharp, sterile blade. To prevent more keikis from forming, you may want to cut back the mother orchid’s spikes after they’re done blooming. Sprinkle cinnamon, which is a natural fungicide, on any open wounds after cutting.
If you’d like to keep the keiki and nurture it into a mature orchid, follow these steps:
Orchids are ancient flowers that have been enjoyed by many civilizations throughout history. Their significance has varied from culture to culture. Despite regional differences, their meaning and symbolism have always reflected their natural elegance and exoticism.
Ancient Greece and China: A Symbol of Vitality and Fertility
In both Ancient Greece and China, the orchid was seen as a symbol of vitality and fertility. The Chinese would give it as a gift that suggested many children, which was viewed as a blessing in ancient times. The Chinese also saw the orchid as a sign of innocence and refinement, although these were less prevalent than fertility.
The Greeks had a slightly more elaborate belief in connecting an orchid to fertility. They believed that if an unborn child’s father ate large (young) orchid tubers, then the child would be a boy. Alternatively, if the mother of the unborn child ate little tubers, the child was expected to be a girl.
Medieval Japan: A Trophy of Warriors
In Pre-Industrial Japan, Samurai would search for a specific type of orchid: Neofinetia falcata. Native to Japan, this vanda is rare -- especially in the wild. Prized for its foliage and fragrance, this orchid was more sought-after than most by Japan’s royalty. To please the nobles whom they served, Samurais would go on grand journeys in search of a Neofinetia falcata. If a Samurai found one and successfully brought it back, it’d be presented as a trophy of the warrior’s quest, a sign of his bravery.
Victorian England: A Sign of Luxury and Wealth
Orchids didn’t reach England until the Victorian era, and even then they were rare. They weren’t native to England, and transporting them across oceans was tenuous. Their delicacy made them uncommon, which only heightened interest in them.
They quickly became the flower of choice among gentry, not just because they were beautiful but also because they showed off one’s wealth. To own an Orchid in Victorian England was to indulge in luxury, something commoners could little afford to do.
Today: A Palette of Colors and Meanings
Today, orchids are available in more colors than ever before, and color is the primary determiner of an orchid’s meaning:
The orchid has a deep, rich history of meanings and symbols, but its message has never been as versatile as it is today. With so many colors to choose from, not to mention various varieties of orchids, you can find one that perfectly expresses your sentiments, whatever they may be.
For more about orchids and orchid care, visit EasyOrchidGrowing.com. Happy Blooming!
Orchid needs change with the seasons just like any other plant. While many orchids are dormant during the winter, they still need light, water, regular feedings and just the right temperatures. So, we've assembled some grow tips to help you care for your orchids during the colder, dryer winter months.
Many commonly grown orchids are from temperate, tropical regions, so it's important to keep a close eye on the temperatures. Most orchids prefer daytime temps between 70° and 90° F and nighttime temps between 55° and 75° F (similar to most people). For those of you that grow your orchids outdoors, you will need to relocate your plants indoors or to an insulated garage when the forecast calls for temperature drops below 55° F. Amateur greenhouse growers may want to consider investing in a space heater that is specifically designed for greenhouse use.
We recommend that you water your orchids less frequently during the winter season. Water your plants early in the morning after the sun has risen to allow excess moisture to evaporate during the day. Watering at night can increase the chances of fungal or bacterial infections which are more common during the winter. Additionally, you will want to allow your plants to dry out between waterings. The exception to this recommendation is when caring for Phalaenopsis and Paphiopedilum (Lady Slipper) orchids. These should be kept consistently moist even during the winter months.
Ensuring the right amount of light can be more difficult during the winter months with shorter days and less daylight. Orchids often need 12 to 14 hours of indirect light, depending on the variety. You may need to relocate your orchid throughout the day to follow the sunlight. Usually, a north- or east-facing window is best, but be sure the window has some type of covering like a sheer curtain to avoid direct sunlight on your plants.
For those of you that live in snowy locations, don't forget that sunlight can reflect off the snowy ground to cause even more sunlight through your windows. In addition to checking for cold drafts, check the amount of direct sunlight coming in through your windows throughout the day to avoid "sun-burning" your plants. Plants need plenty of light during the winter, you just want to make sure they don't burn.
If you live in a part of the country where the sun doesn’t rise until 8:00 a.m. and sets as early as 4:00 p.m. during the winter months, an indoor grow light can help you ensure that your orchids are receiving the proper amount of light.
Although your orchid may not be growing as quickly as it does during the spring and summer months, it is very important to keep feeding your plants during their dormancy. We recommend diluting your plant food, but don't omit feeding entirely.
For more on information on how to care for orchids, visit easyorchidgrowing.com.
There are many different orchids that display a wide array of appearances within the Orchidaceae family. Some of the more exotic-looking orchids resemble animals. The monkey face orchid, flying duck orchid, hedgehog face orchid and bee orchid all bear a remarkable resemblance to the animals they’re named after. Mimicry isn’t a one-way street, though. While some orchids grow to look like animals, one insect matures to resemble orchids. Unless you look closely, you could even mistake the orchid mantis for a flower.
Looking Like an Orchid
The orchid mantis is a species of praying mantis that models itself after a flower, specifically a pink orchid. Its scientific name is Hymenopus coronatus.
The mantis is white with pink accents, which vary from soft to bright, and its legs have lobes that make them look like the petals of an orchid. Its size is even about that or an orchid flower, with females growing to be about 2.5 inches, and adult males measuring about 1 inch. Most impressive, the mantis can vary its color with certain environmental conditions, namely changes in light or temperature, so that it resembles not just an orchid in general but the specific orchids that it’s living near.
Living Like an Orchid
The orchid mantis doesn’t just look like an orchid, but, in many ways, it also lives like one. The insect is native to Malaysia, where plenty of orchid species (including pink ones) come from. In Malaysia, the mantis is found in bushes and on trees -- the same places where epiphytic orchids grow. (Epiphytes are plants that grow harmlessly on other plants.)
The mantis even likes the same weather as orchids, preferring daytime temperatures between 77 and 95° F, and needing nighttime temperatures to be at least 64° F. It also requires high humidity levels, ideally a relative humidity between 60 and 70 percent.
Staying Safe While Hunting Insects
By resembling an orchid and living in the same places where an orchid would, the orchid mantis is able to hide from predators and hunt its prey. Birds will overlook the sizeable insect, mistaking it for a flower. Smaller insects will too, coming too close to the predator. The mantis will eat small butterflies, hoverflies, houseflies, crickets and other, similar insects, which are all attracted to the pink orchid the mantis resembles.
Learning about orchids is a never-ending pursuit, and the field of study isn’t limited to the flowers themselves. To learn more about orchids, their relationships with insects and orchid care, visit EasyOrchidGrowing.com. Happy Blooming!
In our most recent blog post, we shared a few orchid home remedies that really work. Here a few more suggestions that you can easily find around the house that are safe for the environment and helpful for your plants.
A mild dishwashing detergent can serve as an effective treatment for aphids and other pests. Simply mix 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing detergent with a half gallon of water. Pour into a clean spray bottle. Generously spray the leaves and exposed orchid roots, taking extra care to spray the underside of each leaf where pests hide. Wait a few hours and spray again with fresh water to remove the soap and the pests.
This common spice has several beneficial properties for your orchids. There are times when you need to cut away fungus or bacteria from the leaves of your plants. Sprinkle ground cinnamon directly on the leaves where you made a clean cut to help heal the wound. You can also steep cinnamon sticks in hot water over night to make a mild fungicide. Use the “cinnamon tea” in a spray bottle to treat mild fungus issues. This simple treatment can also reduce fungi growth among your orchids such as mushrooms.
Don’t toss your banana peels; put them to work. Banana peels contain many important nutrients including potassium. You can make a natural fertilizer spray for your orchids by soaking leftover peels in water for a couple of days. Discard the peel and use the “banana water” in a spray bottle to feed your orchids. If you have orchids mounted to trees, you can hang the peel around your orchids for gradual fertilization over time. Your orchids will absorb nutrients from the banana as it deteriorates.
Mouthwash fights bacteria in your mouth, and it can do the same with your orchids. Spritz your orchid weekly with a dose of mouthwash to deter pests and bacteria. Avoid flavored mouthwashes because they contain additives.
Most gardeners with a green thumb have a few proven home remedies that truly work. There are countless tricks-of-the-trade, but here are a few things around the house that we know can help with your orchid collection.
Epsom Salts aren’t just for soaking in the tub. Epsom Salts contain magnesium which is an essential element in orchid nutrition. One teaspoon of Epsom Salts added to one gallon of water is all you need to incorporate into your watering routine. This extra boost can help remove the reddish-purple color from cattleya leaves and kick start flower bud formation in most orchid varities.
Many times you don’t need complex chemicals to rid your orchids of pesky pests. Simply soak a cotton ball with 70% isopropyl alcohol and wipe away scale, mealybugs, aphids and mites. The alcohol destroys an insect’s outer waxy covering, which will kill these bugs essentially on contact.
If you struggle with slugs, trying buying them a beer. Place shallow containers filled with beer around your plants. Slugs will be drawn to the yeast in the beer and drown in the container.
Hanging Upside Down
Hanging a Vanda upside down will get it to produce roots when you have a long bare stem.
Cutting Your Orchid
Cut through the rhizome of a cattleya about 3 to 4 bulbs from the front lead while still in the pot to force dormant eyes to break on the older bulbs. Blooms come from the new growths, so this should increase number of flowers and give multiple divisions with new shoots; should one decide to divide.
Dividing your orchids is an important step in expanding your collection as well as ensuring healthy growth for the future. There are a number of reasons why you may need to divide an orchid such as:
(1) out growing an existing pot and
(2) the deterioration of potting medium over time.
How Often Should You Divide?
Most orchid medium starts to deteriorate within two to three years. Refreshing the potting medium is important for the plant to absorb fresh nutrients and avoid root rot, fungus or bacteria. Depending on the orchid variety, most plants will be ready for splitting or a larger pot within two to three years of active growth.
There are two recommended times to divide your orchids:
Steps to Take When Dividing
As orchids have increased in popularity, so too has their availability at traditional nurseries, home improvement stores and grocery stores. So with more choices available, how do you know that you are selecting a healthy plant?
Whether you are just looking for an arrangement that will last longer than traditional cut flowers, or you plan to nurture the plant for years of enjoyment, it’s important to take a few extra minutes to pick the right plant.
What to Look For When Selecting Your Orchid
Buds and Flowers
Pots and Potting mix
Orchids provide the perfect environment for pests to live and thrive. Warm, humid air; plump, soft leaves; tender buds and blossoms; and plenty of crevices to hide under leaves and in potting media. If you aren't careful, a small bug infestation can quickly grow into a big and costly problem. Below are some photos and descriptions to help you identify what may be harming your plants as well some suggestions on how to get rid of pesky pests.
Scale are piercing, sucking insects that are difficult to control as the reproducing females are covered by a protective shell that also protects the pest's eggs. Scale is often resistant to many pesticides due to their hard outer shell.
Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that are generally pear-shaped and green or black in color. They reproduce rapidly and are most often seen on flower buds/spikes and new growth. They produce a sticky substance referred to as honeydew which can encourage the growth of a black fungus (sooty mold). If the leaves of your plants exhibit sooty mold, it's likely that you have an aphid infestation.
Sometimes confused with scale, mealybugs are a soft-bodied insect that are readily identified at the mature stage as white to greyish-white and cotton-like. They are often found in the same areas as scale and can do substantial damage if not dealt with immediately.
Removal of Scale, Aphids and Mealybugs: Use a small toothbrush or cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol (known as isopropyl alcohol) to remove the pests. Do not use other forms of alcohol as they may damage your plants. Be sure to get into the crevices of the leaves as bugs tend to hide there. This treatment is a tedious process and must be repeated often. However, if you catch and treat the infestation early, it will save your plants.
These are very small, elongated insects that are most prevalent on flowers and buds. Often times, their presence is not recognized until the damage from their feeding is obvious. These bugs suck the juice right out of your plants which can cause the deformation of buds, flowers, and new growth. You may also notice browning around the edges of your flowers.
To get rid of thrips, you will need to use a pesticide. Your plants should be inspected weekly, and the pesticide should be reapplied until the infestation has disappeared completely.
Mites are microscopic arthropods that are related to ticks. They attack the undersides of leaves. Their presence is often unnoticed until it's too late. They leave behind silvery, pitted, unsightly leaves.
It is important to note that mites are not insects. Most insecticides are not effective at killing mites. You must purchase a pesticide that is specifically labeled as a miticide for use against this pest. For small infestations in the home, wiping the infested areas with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol can also be effective.
Grasshoppers, especially Lubbers, can do significant damage to orchids in a very short period of time. Lubbers are usually 1” to 3” long and can vary in color from yellow to black depending on the species and stage of growth.
These are best controlled immediately by hand or pruners.
Orchids Deserve Treats, Too
Although the growing season is winding down as we head into fall, that doesn’t mean you should stop feeding your orchids. Routine, year-round feeding promotes healthy growth, bigger blooms and happier plants.
So how should you “treat” your orchids? There are several ways to go about feeding your plants and selecting one method over another really depends on how much time you have to spend with your orchids.
The weakly, weekly method is probably the most common method for gardeners who have multiple plants and time to fertilize. This approach is typically performed with a water soluble or liquid plant food whereby you reduce the concentration of the fertilizer by diluting it with additional water. With our Better-Gro® Orchid Plus plant food, we recommend one teaspoon per gallon of water when feeding with the weakly, weekly method.
First and Third Friday Feedings
Other growers prefer the less time-consuming method for providing plant food by picking a particular day to fertilize. One way to remember this may be to always feed on the first and third Friday of the month. Place a reminder on your calendar and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing your plant food. When usingBetter-Gro® Orchid Plus®, twice monthly, we recommend mixing a half of a tablespoon of plant food per gallon of water.
If you are always on the go and have limited time, don’t worry. You don’t have to deprive your plants. We suggest a continuous release formula like our Better-Gro® Houseplant, Bromeliad & Orchid Food because it that will feed your plants with one application for up to 12 months. Specially-formulated pellets release nutrients over time, so you don’t have to worry about over- or under-feeding your plants.
Extra Treat for You and Your Plants
If you really want to treat your plants and treat yourself to bigger, better blooms, try including Better-Gro® Orchid Better-Bloom® into your feeding routine. This plant food formula includes a high content phosphorous that serves as a powerful blooming agent. Your plants will produce more blooms, deeper colors and larger blossoms. We recommend giving your plants Better-Bloom every fourth watering.
Don’t forget your orchids this Halloween. They like “treats” too! Boo-Yah!
Happy Blooming and Happy Halloween from Better-Gro!
To Center or Not to Center?
Knowing if your plant is monopodial or sympodial will help you determine where to place your plant in the new pot. Monopodials such as Phalaenopsis and Vandas grow upwards from the center of the plant whereas sympodial plants like Cattleyas, Oncidiums and Dendrobiums grow sideways. Plant your mono plants in the middle of your pot. For sympodials, determine the direction of your plant’s new growth and place the old growth at the back edge of your pot. This simple trick will prevent tipsy, one-sided plants and will allow your plant to grow bigger and fuller before you repot again.
A Good Soaking
Repotting can be stressful for your plants, so give them a boost with a good soak. If your plant is in healthy condition, mix a small amount of plant foodwith water according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Soak your bare-rooted orchid in this solution for approximately 15 minutes before you repot to help generate new root growth.
If your orchid is sickly, you may want to try soaking your bare-rooted plant in a fungicide before repotting. This extra step will help give your sick plant a chance at survival.
If you are repotting multiple plants, use fresh soaking baths between plants to avoid possible cross-contamination.
Bring some color, interest and unique accents to your yard by mounting orchids to trees near your entryway, by the pool or where you spend your time outdoors. Orchids are epiphytes and grow naturally in the wild in tree canopies.
They derive their moisture and nutrients directly from the air and from surrounding debris. In most cases, host trees are not harmed by orchids which makes tree mounting a great option for your yard.
Mounted orchids grow best in temperate zones and the tropics. Be sure to check the temperature tolerance of your specific orchid before relocating it to an outdoor location. Virtually every type of orchid including Vandas, Phalenopsis, Oncidiums, Dendrobiums and Cattleyas will perform well when mounted to a tree.
Orchids can be attached to trees using a variety of different methods.
Option 1: Simply attach the orchid to a tree limb and secure with biodegradable twine. You may want to wrap the root ball in sphagnum moss to initially keep the roots from drying out.
Option 2: Create a burlap pocket filled with your orchid plant and Better-Gro® potting mix. Attach the pocket to the tree with twine.
Over time, the twine and burlap will degrade, however, your orchid will have grown roots into and around the tree bark. Orchids attach best to trees with textured bark rather than smooth surfaces like certain palm species.
The best time of year to mount orchids to trees is (1) when your orchid is heading into the growing season (2) during the wet time of year, typically the summer. With minimal effort, expense and care, your orchids will quickly adapt to their new surroundings. You will be rewarded with fresh blooms and a new look in your yard.
A few months back, we talked about orchid leaves turning purple which can commonly occur during the winter. Now that we are in the final weeks of summer with plenty of heat still lingering, let’s talk about yellow leaves.
There are a number of reasons why orchid leaves turn yellow, some of which should cause concern while others are just part of your plant’s natural life cycle.
If you have recently repotted an otherwise healthy plant, yellowing leaves may be a sign of stress. It is completely natural for a repotted orchid to shed leaves. The first stage of this shedding process will be the yellowing of select leaves. There is nothing to worry about if the rest of the plant looks strong.
Too Much Sun
If you grow your orchid outside, summer is the time when you need to take extra care to ensure that your plants aren’t getting burned. If the pseudobulbs and roots of your plant look healthy, but the you notice yellowing leaves, it’s likely that your orchids are simply getting too much sun. “Sunburn” will start on the highest point of the leaf. Leaves will turn from a nice healthy looking green to a lime-ish green then to yellow. If nothing is done to protect your plant, you will eventually find unsightly, round, papery spots that will permanently scar your plant.
Too Little Water or Too Much Water
If your leaves are beginning to turn yellow and are also floppy, wrinkled and/or leathery it is likely that your plant needs more water. Water your plant thoroughly and allow the water to completely drain.
On the flipside, overwatering can cause your plant to yellow. If your leaves look droopy, sickly and even slimy, you may be watering too much. Overwatering can kill a plant literally from the roots up. The roots of an overwatered plant will turn black and begin to rot before your leaves alert you that there is a problem. If you think you have overwatered your orchid, place your plant in a well ventilated location to allow more air flow to stave off bacterial or fungal infections. Wait until the potting media has dried out, then begin watering your plant again with less frequency than before.
Natural Life Cycle
If the lowest leaves of your otherwise healthy looking Phalaenopsis plant begin to yellow, don’t worry and do nothing. Your orchid is just going through a normal growth cycle to shed older leaves. We recommend that you avoid the temptation to cut the yellow leaf. Doing so could introduce fungus through the open cut wound. Your plant will seal the cut area if you allow the leaf to naturally die and fall off.
Bacteria, Fungus and Viruses
Yellow leaves can often be a sign of a bacterial, fungal or viral infection. Check the underside of your leaves as well as your roots for signs of infection and treat with a Bactercide, Fungicide, or Virucide. Use as directed by the manufacturer.
The key to happy, healthy orchids is to listen to your plants. We hope next time you spot a yellow leaf, you will have a better idea of what your orchid is trying to tell you.
Happy Blooming from Better-Gro!
We love ferns but don't let them get mixed up with your orchids. Ferns are orchid foes not friends!
This may sound counterintuitive in that ferns and orchids are both epiphytes. So, by definition, they derive their nutrition from air, rain and their surroundings. Neither harm their host plant, but when grown side-by-side, ferns and orchids can act like young siblings fighting for attention. If you want your orchids to thrive, it’s best to remove the foe before it can do any damage.
These simple steps will help ensure that your collection remains an orchid collection rather than a fern collection.
Happy Blooming from Better-Gro!
We’re often asked: (1) How do I know when to repot my orchid and (2) What is the best time to repot my orchid. Whether you are a first-time orchid owner or a long-time collector, follow these simple suggestions for repotting success.
After you've stocked up on hurricane supplies and prepped your home in advance of a storm, you will likely want to turn your attention to your orchids and other plants if there is time. After all, some collectors have invested a significant amount of time and money into their orchid collections.
Tips for Your Orchids
Relocate and Secure Your Pots
In addition to structural damage, hurricanes can do a doozy on your landscape --- especially your orchids. We’ve assembled a few quick tips to help avoid further damage after a hurricane.
Too Much / Too Little Sunlight
If a storm causes you to lose trees and branches that previously provided filtered light for your orchids, be sure to relocate your orchids to a shadier spot as soon as possible to avoid orchid sunburn.
If you took your orchids indoors before the storm, make sure they are still receiving plenty of filtered sunlight. Often times, growers will move their orchids into a garage or bathroom to keep them protected but end up leaving them "in the dark" for too long while tending to other post-storm tasks.
If your orchids were exposed to saltwater associated with storm surge, it’s really important to flush your pots with fresh water. Saltwater can be very damaging to orchids. Salt, in a concentrated form, is a type of herbicide. The sooner you can clear the saltwater from your plants, the better your chances of saving them.
Too Much / Too Little Water
If your area received a lot of rain, check your outdoor pots to look to see if they are draining properly to avoid root rot. Drain holes may be clogged with debris and plant saucers may need to be drained. These efforts will also help to reduce breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
If you relocated your orchids indoors before the storm, don't forget to keep them hydrated. The air in your home is less humid than outdoors. Try misting them often until you can move your plants outdoors again.
Hurricane stress isn’t just for humans, orchids can experience it, too. Watch for signs of fungus and bacteria. When a plant is weakened from changes in the environment, they are more susceptible. Treat at the first sign of fungus or bacteria and keep your sick orchids isolated from your healthy ones.
Understanding the natural growing habitats of orchids helps us to understand where they should be happiest in our home. In nature, most orchids grow in tropical climates with lots of humidity, ventilation, and filtered light. Here are a few tips for growing orchids indoors and outdoors.
Finding the Perfect Indoor Spot
Find a window that provides good filtered light throughout the entire day. In nature, most orchids grow in trees or within the landscape under trees and get filtered light from daylight until dark. Make sure the light your orchid receives is filtered with a sheer or screen. Don’t place a plant in a window with direct light as glass can actually intensify the light and cause burn.
Orchids do well in bathrooms as they provide plenty of humidity. However, not all bathrooms have a window which is needed to ensure proper lighting. If you don't have a sunny window, grow lights are an alternative option.
Also remember that humidity levels are important when growing indoors. Your air conditioner and heater are designed to remove humidity from the air. So you will need to provide additional humidity by misting your plants daily. Another alternative is to create a water reservoir with pebbles and a shallow dish filled with water to the top of the pebbles. By setting your orchids on top of the pebbles, your plants won't sit directly in the water - but humid air will rise around the plant to provide the humidity your plants need.
Outdoors with a view
Back porches, lanais or pool areas provide a great growing environment for your orchids. Just remember to place your orchid where it won’t receive direct sunlight. Be sure to check the light levels throughout the day as shadows and light patterns may change from the morning to the afternoon.
Typically, an outdoor environment provides natural humidity, but it’s still a good idea to keep an eye on the weather. During certain times of the year, the humidity can be very low and you may need to mist your plants. Also pay close attention to the type of orchids that you are growing. For example, vandas often require daily waterings.
Another benefit to outdoor growing is natural ventilation. However, during certain times of the year, the wind may be stagnant. Most plant diseases and insects thrive in hot, stagnant areas. A simple box fan can provide the circulation needed to keep diseases and insects at bay.
While the information above offers good rules of thumb (a green thumb!), keep in mind that different types of orchids have different requirements. To learn how to care for specific orchid varieties, visit our common orchid varieties page for more details.
What potting mix is best for growing orchids? Bark, moss, lava rock? Well, the answer depends on the type of orchids you are growing, the location of your orchids, and how you care for them.
For example, if you're in an area with a very dry climate, you should select a mix that retains moisture. If you grow your orchids indoors and tend to over water your plants, you will want potting mix that drains well. So how do you know which mix retains moisture and which ones do not?
First, let’s look at the ingredients found in orchid potting mixes and their specific traits:
Of course, we don't expect you to find these individual ingredients and make your own orchid mix. Thankfully, our head grower applied his many years of research and experience to develop our line of Better-Gro Orchid Potting Mixes. The following products are the exact same mixes that we use in our greenhouses to grow thousands of plants each year.
Summer is a time when fungal infections can quickly spread through your orchids. Fungi thrive in warm, humid conditions which coincidentally are the same conditions that most orchids need to survive. So, whether you are a greenhouse grower or your orchids are grown outside, you need to be vigilant about watching for the first signs of an infection. If left untreated, a fungus can kill your plants. But don’t worry, follow these instructions below to help detect, treat and prevent to bring your plants back to good health.
Let’s talk about the most common types of fungi that may impact your orchids:
Botrytis causes small brown spots on your flowers, ruining an otherwise beautiful flower. As the fungus spreads, you will notice more spots that are larger in size.
Use a fungicide such as Physan 20, Daconil, Thiphanate Methyl according to the product directions. For a less toxic option, you may also use Hydrogen Peroxide in a spray bottle. You should know that spraying a fungicide will help control the fungal problem, but may also spot a flower or brown the edges.
Improve the air circulation around your plants and remove dead plant materials (expired blooms, old pseudobulbs and dead leaves). Avoid watering flowers, and water early in the morning to allow plenty of time for excess water to be absorbed or evaporated. Also, monitor night temperatures and avoid dips below 60 degrees when possible.
We hope you never find evidence of these fungal infections among your orchids. However, know that if you do catch it early, you can save your plant before it is too late.
Remember to keep a clean growing environment, remove dead plant debris, allow for proper air circulation and water plants early in the morning. These simple suggestions will help keep the fungi away.
Happy Blooming from Better-Gro!
If you keep your orchids outdoors during the summer to take advantage of the rainy season and warm weather, be careful that your plants aren’t receiving too much of a good thing. Orchids are natural epiphytes that derive water and nutrients from tree canopies. Their native settings allow plants to soak up just the right amount of rain, shed unnecessary water and allow roots to dry out between rain showers.
Despite our attempts to mimic an orchid’s natural setting, an outdoor potted orchid needs extra care and attention to avoid receiving too much water.
All orchids are not the same. Some varieties prefer to dry out completely between waterings such as vandas and phalenopsis (moth orchids). Other orchids such as paphiopedliums (lady slippers), miltonias (pansy orchids) and cymbidiums like to stay evenly moist but not soggy. Orchids that like something in the middle - evenly moist during high growth periods but dry outs between waterings - include cattleyas, dendrobiums and oncidiums.
What Is the Harm in Too Much Water?
There is such as thing as “too much of a good thing” as it relates to rainwater and your outdoor orchids. Without proper drainage, too much water can literally kill your plant. Overwatering can deprive your orchid roots of oxygen. In a short period of time, your healthy green or brown roots will turn black and begin to rot. This wet environment is ideal environment for bacteria or fungus. If you aren’t careful, the damage caused to your roots will eventually show in the leaves of your plants. By then, unfortunately, it may be too late to save the plant. So take the time this summer to routinely check your outdoor orchids to be sure they aren’t getting too much of a good thing with these summer rains.
No, we aren’t keiki-ing or kidding! Nature really can provide two for the price of one. A keiki is an offshoot that forms on a mother plant. The word keiki is derived from the Hawaiian word for baby. So if you are lucky, from time to time, your orchid plants may produce a baby that can grow into a full-sized, flowering orchid. A keiki is just one way that orchids propagate and most commonly occur with dendrobiums, phalaenopsis and epidendrums. This particular type of propagation produces a new plant that will have the same characteristics as the parent plant. So flower color, size and fragrance will be identical.
Where Do Keikis Grow?
Dendrobium and epidendrum keikis typically develop along the cane. You will notice roots sprouting from the side or tip of the cane, and a new independent cane will form from these roots. On a phalaenopsis, keikis sprout from nodes along a healthy, green flower spike.
What Do You Do with Keikis?
If you want to replicate the mother plant, allow the keiki to grow until the new plant develops a healthy root system and produces a new cane or multiple leaves. Be patient though, this growth process will take between six months to a year. If you prematurely remove the keiki, it will die.
Removing a Keiki
Simply use a sterilized cutting tool to remove the keiki taking care not to damage the new roots or the mother plant. Spray or swab the cut location with fungicide to protect the keiki and the mother plant from developing a fungus. If you don’t have fungicide readily available, sprinkle cinnamon from your spice cabinet on the wound. Cinnamon is a natural fungicide.
For step-by-step instructions, refer to this American Orchid Society: Removing a Keiki Video.
Caring for Your Keiki
Plant the baby orchid in fresh potting medium. Stabilize the young plant with a stake and clip. Mist as needed and over time, your plant will grow into an adult-sized orchid.
For tips on potting your baby orchid, view this American Orchid Society: Potting a Keiki Video.
Happy Blooming with Better-Gro!
So you’ve had good luck with Moth Orchids (Phalaenopsis), and you’ve added color to your collection with a few showy Cattleyas. Now you may be looking to expand your collection but are worried that other varieties may be too difficult to grow. After all, most stores primarily sell Dendrobiums, Phalaenopsis and Cattleyas, so they must be the only easy orchids to grow, right? Wrong.
The orchid family includes nearly 900 genera, and among those hundreds, there are lots of plants that are quite simple to grow under the same conditions as the most commonly available orchids. Let’s take a look at some additional varieties to add to your collection.
Commonly Known as "Lady of the Night"
Not only is the white flower on this orchid quite unique, this hardy plant features a distinctive gardenia-like fragrance that peaks at night fall. Another reason we like this orchid is that when grown under the right conditions, Brassavola nodosa will bloom multiple times throughout the year.
Temperature: Grows best in warmer temperatures ranging from 70º to 85º F and likes a slight drop in evening temps.
Light: Prefers medium to high filtered light, similar to a Cattleya.
Watering: Likes a well-drained potting media, such as Better-Gro ® Special Orchid Mix, or even a cork/driftwood mount so that the roots can air out between waterings. The Brassavola prefers a humid environment, so if you happen to live in a temperate zone, this plant will thrive outdoors.
Feeding: Because this orchid will bloom throughout the year, it is recommended that you feed by alternating between our Better-Gro ® Orchid Plus ® and Better-Gro ® Better-Bloom ® plant foods using the recommendations on the label.
Oncidium 'Sweet Sugar'
This orchid has been nicknamed the "Dancing Lady" due to its striking resemblance to a full-skirted silhouette that closely mimics a dancing lady when the flowers flutter in a gentle breeze. Some even say the flowers look like angels.
Although the blossoms are typically just 1" or less in size, don’t be fooled by the tiny size of this plant’s flora. The sprays on this plant easily rival other larger-sized orchid blooms.
Temperature: Thrives in day time temperatures ranging from 70º to 85º F.
Light: Grows best with bright filtered light.
Watering: Oncidiums are equipped to store water in their pseudobulbs which makes them more draught tolerant. Be sure to use a well-drained potting media, such as Better-Gro ® Special Orchid Mix, to allow the plant to dry between waterings and watch for the tell-tale sign that your orchid needs water when you see the pseudobulb start to shrivel.
Feeding: We recommend the same plant food routine as listed above for both Oncidiums and Brassavola. Alternate between our Better-Gro ® Orchid Plus ®and Better-Gro ® Better-Bloom ® plant foods using the amounts shown on the label.
In addition to this bright yellow color, Oncidiums are available in a variety of colors including red, pink, green, white and brown. Some varieties even have a scent including the 'Sharry Baby' variety that smells like chocolate.
Makuli-Curtisii-Maudiae x Paph. Maudiae 'Napa Valley' HCC/AOS x Sib
Don’t be fooled by this exotic looking orchid. Paphiopedilum maudiaes are one of the easiest orchid varieties to grow. Commonly referred to as the "Lady Slipper Orchid" because of the pouch-like lip that resembles the toe of a slipper, flowers on this plant will last up to two months and often bloom one to two times a year. The mottled foliage of the Paphiopedilum maudiae is prettier than most orchid varieties and rivals many indoor houseplants.
Temperature: This orchid prefers cooler temperatures than the orchids listed above. The Paphiopedilum maudiae grows best between 65º to 85º F and needs cooler night temperatures to form buds.
Light: In a natural setting, this orchid grows on the forest floor. In a greenhouse or outdoor environment, provide filtered light and avoid direct sunlight.
Watering: Although the lip of this orchid looks like the ideal vessel to hold water, you should avoid getting water in the pouch as this will cause the flower to rot. Paphiopedilums don't have pseudobulbs like other orchid varieties, so it is important to water regularly. Potting media should remain cool to the touch, but water should flow completely through the pot to avoid root rot.
Feeding: Paphiopedilums do not need as much plant food as other orchid varieties. We recommend cutting the strength of your plant food to a quarter or half strength of what is shown on the label.
In addition to the white and light green flower shown above, the Paphiopedilum maudiae is also available in a deep eggplant purple.
We hope you enjoy experimenting with these additional orchid varieties. They are sure to bring fresh blooms, interesting foliage and diversity to your collection.
Happy Blooming from Better-Gro!