How to care for orchids - COMPLETE GUIDE

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Orchids are actually a whole family of plants, so varied that they have more than 25,000 species. The great diversity that they present in their morphology has made them one of the most popular flowering plants among fans of gardening and decoration because, despite their enormous variety, all orchids have large and showy flowers.

However, caring for these plants may not be so simple a priori. This great diversity also differentiates them in their needs and it is essential to have a good knowledge of them to be able to take good care of the orchids. If you want to learn how to care for orchids, join us in this Green Ecologist article.

Types of orchids

Before telling you how to take care of an orchid at home, we want to make it clear that this is the first point and also the most important: correctly identify the species of your orchid. The most popular orchids among amateurs and in stores are the Phalaenopsis orchids, among which are the so-called white orchids and pink or fuchsia are also very popular.

Phalaenopsis are epiphytic orchids, that is to say, that in their natural habitat they grow by attaching themselves to the branches and trunks of trees, instead of burying their roots as terrestrial plants do. This characteristic greatly affects their needs and care, which differ in some points from those of most plants.

However, although most orchids are of this type, not all turn out to be epiphytic plants: there are also ground orchids, like the Calanthe or the Cymbidium, climbers or lithophytes, like the Laelia, which grow on rocks and not on trees.

If you have just been given or have bought an orchid, the first thing you need to do is identify its specific species to be able to provide tailored care. In this article we are going to focus on the care that epiphytic orchids need, since they are by far the most common and popular and they all share very similar needs.

If you want to discover more about the Types of orchids, we recommend you read this guide or watch the video below.

Light and location for orchids

When it comes to their light needs, you just have to look at the natural habitat of these plants to get an idea of what they need. Given that in their original environment they develop on the branches and trunks of trees, but always below the arboreal dome, it is not difficult to deduce that orchids need plenty of natural light, but always from indirect way.

Thus, outdoors it will be convenient to locate the orchid in some illuminated area, but especially covered from the hours of greatest incidence of the sun, which are usually midday. If it is, instead, how Caring for a Potted Orchid at Home, it is best to place it in a very bright room, near balconies or windows where the incidence is not direct or where curtains filter or filter the light.

In the same way, it is convenient to find an environment with adequate ventilation. Since epiphytic plants get a good part of their nutrients from the air, they need clean air that is as lightly charged as possible. Of course, this should not be confused with exposing it to drafts on a regular basis, which will dry out the plant, making it lose the flowers very easily.

Orchid pots

This is one of the most particular points in the care of orchids, especially if we refer to the epiphytic type, and it is that these plants are capable of perform photosynthesis with your roots and not only with its leaves and stems, hence they are green when the plant is healthy.

Thus, when choosing a pot for orchids it is convenient that this be of a translucent material, that allows light to penetrate so that the roots also absorb it. In addition, in this way we can also easily check the state of the roots of the plant, a good indicator of its health.

As in the vast majority of cases, it will also be necessary for the pot to have drainage holes, since, as we will see later, when it comes to the issue of how to water an orchid, it must be done by immersion.

Temperature and climate for orchids

Since orchids are tropical plants and do well in tropical and temperate climates, they do not grow well in temperatures that are neither too high, as in desert climates, nor very cold. These plants must always be kept within a temperature range of between 10ºC and 30ºC, being necessary to protect them inside the house if the temperatures fall or rise beyond those limits.

Taking into account that in places with very high or very low temperatures, air conditioners and radiators will be used, it must be taken into account that when putting these plants inside the house because they cannot be outside, we cannot place them next to these devices while they are they use, as this will harm them and they can dry out and die.

Irrigation for orchids

Traditional watering with a watering can tends not to be suitable for these plants, since it is likely that we end up providing the plant with either too little water, or too much water. In their natural environment, orchids get their water mainly from ambient humidity and tropical storms and the best way to replicate this is with a immersion irrigation. Immerse your orchid pot in water at room temperature and without lime. Tap water tends to be inappropriate depending on the area, so you can use rainwater or, if that is not possible, let the tap water sit for 24 hours before using it for watering, so that the minerals are deposited.

How much to water an orchid

Leave the pot submerged in a basin with enough water for between 10 and 20 minutes Then remove it and let the excess water drain completely through the holes in the container. After this, you can return it to its usual location.

How often is an orchid watered

In general, it will be sufficient to apply this process 1 time per week during your busiest months and every 15 days in its time of rest, that is to say, in the cold months. In any case, and when in doubt, it is worth knowing that orchids handle drought better than excess water. If you think you are watering it badly, try to space the waterings slightly and observe the changes.

Here we tell you more about How to water an orchid.

Moisture for orchids

As tropical plants, orchids also need high humidity. This can normally be achieved by two methods: using a tray with stones and water or, if you have it hanging, spray water on the leaves.

By cleaning the orchid leaves like this, we moisten them and also clean them of dust, improving their absorption of water and nutrients. In the case of the tray, it is enough to place a little water in a tray and cover it with stones, and then place the pot on top. This will keep the roots safe from waterlogging, but taking advantage of the moisture in the water as it evaporates.

Substrate and compost for orchids

These plants are not very demanding with their substrate, since their roots do not seek food in it. Thus, the most important thing is that the substrate is light and porous, so that it drains as well as possible and at the same time retains a certain level of humidity. There are many stores that have specialized substrate for orchids, although you can also prepare your own mixture using materials such as sphagnum moss or coconut fiber as a base. Here we explain more about How to make substrate for orchids.

As for the fertilizer, this is another of the key points in the orchid maintenance. Since epiphytic plants get their mineral nutrients from rainwater and what it carries through the bark of the tree to which they are subjected, they have quite different needs from common land plants. Do not use organic fertilizers or universal chemicals, as they could burn and damage its roots. Instead, it is best to resort to specific fertilizers and fertilizers for orchids or epiphytic plants.

Orchid pruning

You also have to think abouthow to care for orchids after flowering. This is when the orchid pruning, since it is the most important step on the care of these after their flowering.

When the flowers have already fallen, prepare pruning shears by sterilizing them and cut the stem just below the first bud or pseudobulb. You should also not be in a hurry to do this since, if you ask yourself how long do orchid flowers lastWe will tell you that this is one of the longest-lived flowering plants: no less than 12 weeks!

It is important to do this so that the plant does not waste energy trying to feed stalks that are drying and are not going to serve anymore. In form, it will be stronger and will be able to bloom again in the following season. Learn more about it with this other post on How to prune an orchid.

How to make orchids bloom

The first thing you should know is that orchids can take several years to bloom. If your plant is young, it is normal that it does not give flowers during the first years: some take up to 5 years to do so. After taking this into account, it is important to consider the following caring for orchids to bloom:

  • Pay attention that the humidity levels are adequate, checking that both its leaves and roots show a healthy green.
  • Make sure the plant receives plenty of non-direct light.
  • Check that it is not exposed to sudden changes in temperature or drafts.
  • Fertilize it properly with specific fertilizer for this type of plants.
  • Keep in mind that the most important care for orchids when the flowers fall is proper pruning, if your orchid does not bloom this year it may be due to poor pruning, or not having been directly pruned last season.

If you follow all these steps, your orchid will soon produce those beautiful flowers that characterize it.

How to care for a dying orchid

Since these plants are somewhat demanding in their care, it is possible that an oversight or a few days away from home have cost you an unpleasant surprise when you return. When you need to know how to revive an orchidIt is important to distinguish if the plant is at the limit due to drought or excessive watering.

Caring for an orchid that is dying from drought

If it's apparently dry, try soaking it for half an hour in room temperature water and then letting the excess water drain out, like a regular but longer soak watering. If this is the first time it happens, your orchid will most likely recover.

Caring for an orchid that dies from excess water

If what happens is that you have drowned it by excessive watering, it will be necessary to transplant the plant to free it of all that substrate with excess moisture. Prepare a new substrate and a new container, and prune any leaves or roots that look rotten or darkened with disinfected scissors. You can also help the roots by covering them with powdered activated charcoal, in a strengthening solution, for a full day. After that, move her to her new transplant recipient.

In this other article you can learn more about how to revive an orchid and in the video below we show you 7 common mistakes when caring for orchids so that you can learn and avoid or correct them in time.

If you want to read more articles similar to How to care for orchids, we recommend that you enter our category of Cultivation and care of plants.

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