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Orchid 101: Buying and Caring for Your Orchid

  • Written by Submitted by Molbak’s

With unusual colors and foliage, orchids have captured the hearts and imaginations of people for hundreds of years. Known for their long-lasting, gorgeous blooms, they make terrific gifts and are an exotic, elegant addition to indoor décor. By choosing a healthy plant, and giving it the care it needs, you can enjoy orchids for months on end. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

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Tips for buying:

1. Buy your orchid from a reputable nursery.

2. Look for a plant that is in proportion to its container. Make sure the plant’s roots are established in the media, and its foliage is clean, unblemished, medium green and free of pests.

3. Look for lustrous blooms held well above the foliage on a strong, well-supported spike.

4. Choose a plant that has some unopened buds at the top of the spike so that you can enjoy the flowering for as long as possible.

Tips for growing:

Orchids, like all plants, need the right balance of light, air, water and food to grow and flower well.

Light: Orchids love bright light. How much is too much? Look to the foliage for the answer. If the foliage is yellow-green and has strong upright growth, it is getting adequate light. If the foliage is dark green, it is getting too much light and won’t flower.

Air: From root to bud, orchids need plenty of air to thrive, though they dislike drafts.  Make sure your orchid is planted in a potting media that offers exceptionally good drainage, and is capable of holding sufficient moisture to support the plant’s needs.  It’s best to grow this plant in orchid containers that are designed to increase air circulation throughout the roots.

Water:  Orchids should be watered just as they dry out. To see if it’s time to water, insert a finger into the potting mix. If the mix is dry, water the plant until the water drains freely from the drainage holes. This soaks the potting medium and flushes out salts that naturally accumulate. At a minimum, try to thoroughly water your plants at least every four to seven days, depending on the season and dryness of the home. Plants may require more frequent watering when blooming, and while growing, generally during the spring and summer months.

Fertilizer: Orchids will grow and flower beautifully without fertilizer, but you’ll get better results with some level of feeding. Typically plants are fertilized every two weeks in the fall and winter, and once a week during the summer. Choose a well-balanced fertilizer and follow label instructions on the packaging. Be sure and water the plant thoroughly before applying fertilizer.

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