Frequently Asked Cultural Questions

Q? Is 3 ice cubes the best way to water an orchid?
A.

No, its the worst! Ice cubes are 32 degrees and when they come in contact with the roots they will freeze them. Eventually the leaves wilt because the roots have been damaged.

Here is the best way to water. About once a week, take the orchid to the kitchen sink, get the water luke warm and water it well. Be sure to keep water out of the crown or center. Mix a little Gro-More 6-30-30 in a pitcher and water about 1 cup of fertilizer water. If the plant in not in bloom, mix Gro-More 20-10-20 a water a cup of that fertilizer each week.

Q? What is the easiest orchid to grow for a beginner?
A.

Definitely the Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis), because it blooms the longest, 3-4 months,   likes the same temperatures as we do, and tolerates low light, east window is best. Purchase a healthy plant with some flowers and buds. If some of the buds are turning yellow or falling off, the plant may not have been treated well.

Q? When should I repot my orchid?
A.

Usually ever 2 years is about right. If the new roots are growing over the top of the pot, its telling you, the media is breaking down and the roots can’t breathe, so it’s time to repot. I prefer a bark mix that contains, charcoal, perlite and a little coconut husk. Some medias, consist of moss, soil or peat. Be aware of how the water will affect each type. I prefer to water only once a week.

Q? Where do I cut the spike on a Phalaenopsis (Moth Orchid) to make it rebloom?
A.

cut1When there are 2 flowers left on the spike, cut the spike just below where the first flower bloomed, or just above the top node.  I want to leave as many nodes as possible to increase the chance of reblooming on one or more secondary spikes.

Q? I have had a Moth Orchid for years and it never rebloomed. How do I make it produce flowers?
A.

That’s easy, you need to trick it into spike! In the fall, when the weather has cool nights and warm days, put the orchid outside in the shade or leave a window open for a month. The plant needs a 15-20 degree F, change in temperature from day to night for 3-4 weeks. When you bring the orchid in before frost, it will be in spike, and should produce the first flower around Valentine’s Day. Continue to chill in the fall until it initiates the spike.

Q? Why are the leaves of my Phalaenopsis (Moth Orchid) getting limp and wrinkled?
A.

Too much or too little water! Or ice cubes. Gently take the plant out of the pot. If the roots are brown and mushy, it received too much water or the media became soggy and rotted the roots. If the roots are white and papery, the plant received to little water. Repot the orchid in fresh bark mix, keep it warm and humid with low light until the plant show signs of new roots. Start feeding it when new growth begins.

Q? What’s the next easiest orchid to grow?
A.

All orchids are easy to grow. The key is to know what each genera likes and dislikes. I think the next orchid for beginners should be the Ladyslipper (Paphiopedilum). It likes the same lighting and watering as a Phalaenopsis. Feed only 2 times a month. The key to success is to know the plant has to be repotted in fresh media every year for it to be happy. Read the culture guides for each type, provided on this website. Contact me, when your ready for a new challenge.

Q? What’s the best type of pot to use for growing an orchid?
A.

One with a drainage hole! Seriously, I have seen plants sold without a hole in the bottom of the pot. Those stores need to give swimming lessons to their plants.  A regular clay pot is the best, it drains and breathes, to help prevent root rot. You have to water more often. I use plastic pots and am not concerned about seeing the roots. It is more important to use the right size pot. It’s better to use too small of pot than to large.  Don’t be afraid to repot when the plant has overgrown its pot.

Q? What do I do if I find bugs on my orchid?
A.

Kill them! First of all,   give the plant a bath. Use  a high pressure hose sprayer and wash the leaves, top and bottom to dislodge any critters. Next, mix 1 tablespoon of mineral oil and a little dish soap in a quart bottle with water. Spray the leaves top and bottom and wipe with a paper towel. Respray and keep an eye out for any survivors in a week or two.

Q? How often should I fertilize my orchid?
A.

Weekly, weakly! A little feed each week will keep your plant healthy and happy. Some people never feed and there plant blooms without it. I prefer to feed my orchids each week to encourage the most flowers possible with the healthiest plants. If the orchid loses an old leaf every time a new one develops, it’s because it’s not getting enough nutrition. I use Gro-More 6-30-30 (blue for blooming) from Sept. until blooming ends, and Gro-More 20-10-20 (green for growing) when the plant is wanting to grow new leaves, spring and summer.