Gardening · Orchid

Orchids

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The Orchid – a plant widely believed to be a very difficult plant to grow. I find with a little research on what you are actually growing this is untrue.

The orchid has approximately 30,000 species and is from the largest flowering plant family. Orchids can be found on all continents outside of Antarctica. Orchids, despite what is widely believed, are not only from tropical places and can be discovered in a wide variety of ecosystems.
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I have two orchids; one I have approximately three years old and the second I have had for a month. The new one is still in bloom and has perfect leaves.  The older orchid however has had a few issues, mainly due to planting errors and placing it in the wrong light.

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I re-potted the plant a year ago and while it initially continued to grow successfully, a few months after I noticed that there was no new leave growth and the current leaves were going a yellow and black colour. It took me some time to realise what the issue was, I had placed the orchid on a window which had full direct sunlight. The leaves had gotten sunburn – this accounted for the black colouring. The yellow was due to over-watering and an incorrect planting pot.

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Discoloured and sunburnt leaf

I re-potted the orchid and cut of any roots which were going black and only left the healthy green roots. I re-potted it in a clear pot and replaced the old potting mix.  I also reduced the watering to once a week and placed the plant in sunlight but not on the window so it isn’t receiving as much direct sunlight. While the old leaves are still slightly discoloured, a new leave has begun to grow after two days of changing the pot and the planting mix. Previously no leaf had grown for a year.

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Sunburnt Leaf

I have provided some tips for caring for orchids which I feel helped me.

Watering

Orchids need to be allowed to dry out between watering. I have found that watering every seven days is sufficient for the Phalaenopsis ordchid type which I own. Orchids need humidity, the easiest way to create this environment is by lightly mist the orchid with a spray bottle.

As I have highlighted above, over-watering will cause leave discolouration and cause the roots to rot. The leaves will start to droop once over-watering occurs.

Fertilising

I normally use a fertiliser once a month on my orchids.

Repotting

Most orchids, particularly the Phalaenopsis variety, require a moist, well training conditions, therefore I would recommend using an ordchid specific potting mix. It relation to potting mix and watering, I found it useful to remember that in the wild these plants can grow on trees with very little soil, therefore a loose soil is very important. Orchids need to be re-potted once the potting mix breaks down or they are outgrowing their container.

Once an orchid has been re-potted it should stay in the same pot for two years before re-potting. Obviously in my case, I didn’t wait for two years as I could see that the mix has become too wet and was destroying the orchid, as the roots were rotting and therefore needed to have the soil changed.

It is recommended to re-pot the plant which it is not in bloom if possible. Dead roots should be removed during the re-potting process.

Blooming

For the first year that I had my orchid, it bloomed with me having to do very little. However after I over watered it and it got sunburned, no new stalks have grown so when the current bloom dies that will end of flowering until a new stalk grows. This I found the most frustrating but I do believe it will show a new stalk once it has recovered from the sunburn and over-watering.

Phalaenopsis will re-bloom from the old spike. In order for the flower to rebloom, the need strong indirect light. Some recommend that in order to stimulate growth a change in temperature can be successful. The orchid should be moved for one month to 12 degrees celsius and then moved back to 18 degrees celsius.

I hope that the above has been helpful!

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