It is imperative to begin by following all the basic care for orchid stated below. They are essential for the successful culture of your orchids. These advices stay identical, whether you cultivate orchids in the house or apartment, the conservatory or greenhouse.
Water: avoid all excess.
- Take care to don’t leave the water in the saucer.
- Use water that is not too hard (without high calcium and magnesium impurities) if possible (except for the Paphios), though be sure to avoid water that has undergone a softening process. The water can, however, be softened by Hydrochloric acid dilution (1/1000: always add the acid to the water following all the required precautions).
Be careful to avoid city-polluted rain water, or that which has come from roofing with pigeon frequentation (bacteria).
- The temperature of the water should be the same as the room, and preferably watered in the morning.
- Never water after a re-potting: for 3 weeks, only moisten the leaves and spray lightly the top soil layer.
During the growth period, 1 to 2 times per week maximum depending on the season, the substrate, and the ambient temperature, but during resting periods, after flowering, reduce watering.
Excessive watering is the principal cause of death to cultivated orchids.
If in doubt, delay watering by a few days.
Temperature: ideally between 64 F to 68 F (18°c to 20°c)
Though at night a lower temperature of at least 9° F (5°c) is necessary to promote the flowering of the orchids!!!
The colder it is, the less watering and ambient humidity is required (in order to avoid rotting and death).
Light: no direct sunlight.
The proximity of a window is obligatory (no further than 3” (1m)).
In summer, filter the sun by fitting a translucent veil or a blind, and in winter, allow direct light by opening the curtains.
Increase light exposure if possible during flowering.
Humidity: the more the merrier!
Relative recommended humidity: minimum 60%.
A hygrometer is very useful.
Here is how to manage things:
- The most important item : a humidifier tray:
- Simply place your orchids on a bed of gravel or on balls of clay that you keep permanently wet without water touching the bottom of the pots.
- Air humidifiers fitted on radiators (to be refilled every day).
- Necessary during hot periods: drenching (spray on the underside of the leaves but never on the heart of the leaves) or spray the top of the soil.
Aeration: avoid air currents.
Nevertheless, a fan is always beneficial and especially placing the plant outdoors in partial shade under a tree from May to early October (with the exception of Phalaenopsis).
The substrate: no soil!!!
Always a mixture of your own composition or a substrate from a store that can guarantee its quality as there are many garden centers that sell a substrate that is too compact.
- If you water frequently: be sure not to use a substrate that is mainly based on fibrous peat as the water retention can be very long and can increase the risk of root rot.
Rather use a substrate made from bark or pieces of coconut, for example.
- If you do not have much time to water: instead use a substrate of peat-based fiber or horticultural rockwool. Please note, however that in cases of complete drying out, these two components are difficult to humidify (due to the long soaking period required).
Fertilizer: to be used wisely.
When using professional fertilizers for orchids, you must accurately respect the recommended proportions, or even dilute them by half or thirds as they are up to 5 times more concentrated than commercial fertilizers.
Rather too little than too much, in order to avoid burning the roots.
If you insist on watering the leaves, here’s a little tip: to help your liquid spray product stick better to the plant, add a few drops of washing up liquid (as it is a wetting agent).
Repotting: in case of absolute necessity
Generally done every 2 to 3 years according to the plant, when it out grows the pot or when the substrate mix has decomposed.
Choosing a pot for the orchid
Preferably a transparent pot: you will find in all respectable garden centers, or you can buy one on the internet most likely for a reduced price.
You can also put your orchids in opaque pots, but you will find it difficult to ascertain the level of moisture inside. Perhaps, it is an economical solution in the short term, but may prove disastrous in the long term if it results in you watering at the wrong time.
Certainly, a good compromise is to use a cachepot which enables you to always check that the roots of your orchid are healthy so that you know immediately whether to irrigate or not. This compromise between a transparent flower pot and cover pot orchid is probably one of the keys to success!