Worldwide Orchids :
For those that want a quick primer on orchid care here is the "Best of Grower Ron":
You can fertilize with your watering. A balanced formula works fine. Many others will work well too. If your fertilizer has a 20 as its first number, you can then mix it with a ratio of 1 teaspoon to a gallon of water. If the first number is a 10, mix 1 1/2 teaspoons to a gallon. If the first number is a 30 mix only a 1/2 teaspoon to a gallon of water to adjust for the difference in nitrogen. At least once a month, flush the plant from the top with plain water to rinse away the salt buildups. This is particularly necessary if the plant is potted in clay.
A good rule of thumb is this, if you are comfortable, so is the plant. Day temperatures in the seventy’s and eighty’s are generally ideal. However, each variety has its own ideal range, check the guidelines in this site or the Grower Ron Orchid Growing Kit for details about the specific orchid you are interested in. The warmer the temperature, the more water your plant will need. Generally temperatures under 50 will do damage to your orchid. Some, like Cymbidiums without flower spikes, can accept temperatures into the 30’s.
Orchids generally like as much indirect light as you can give them. Do not expose them to direct light. One good way to test whether an orchid is getting the right light is to feel the leaves. If they are hot, move the plant to a shadier spot. Another way is to look at leaf color. If the plant is a rich dark green, it is probably not getting enough light. Orchid leaves should be a light green color if they are getting enough light. Remember, the more heat and light, the more often you will need to water the plant, and the more air movement the plant will require.
See references to watering above. The key is drainage. If you wish to use a decorative pot, let the orchid grow in a pot with good drainage, and only place the plant in the decorative pot when it will be shown. When guests leave, take it back out of the decorative pot. Note, a clay pot dries out faster than a plastic one. Orchids in clay should be watered more often. Moreover, clay has a tendency to promote the buildup of salts because of more evaporation. To compensate, flush the plant with plain water more often than in a plastic pot.
When your plant arrives from Worldwide Orchids, it does not need to be immediately repotted. Plants need repotting for two main reasons. Either the media has begun to break down, or the plant has grown too big for the pot. With phalaenopsis, the plant should probably be repotted no more than once a year. With cattleyas, it may be once every 2 to 3 years. Pot after blooming, when growing stage is active. Make sure you do not use too large a pot. Orchids prefer to be under potted rather than over potted. With monopodial plants like phalaenopsis, the plant should be centered in the pot. With sympodial plants like Cattleya or Oncidiums, the oldest growth should be placed along the edge of the pot with the newest growth toward the center of the pot. Trim off all brown dead roots before repotting. Remove the dried paper like covering from pseudobulbs where applicable because insects like to hide under this material. Moisten the media before potting. Do not tamp down the media too hard. You want to maintain drainage.
Each variety of orchid has its own flowering frequency and time. Different varieties have different flowering triggers. Some orchids, like phalaenopsis, are primarily triggered by temperature. They will naturally initiate spikes (given enough light) when the nights start to get cooler. Other varieties, like Cattleya, are primarily triggered by light. With plants like these, it is important not to locate them where there will be artificial light on at night, as it will confuse the plant and prevent flowering. Some varieties have internal blooming clocks, and will only bloom on their own schedule.
Periodically, wipe down the top and bottom of the plant leaves with warm, dish type, soapy water. Wipe with the grain of the leaf. This will keep the plant looking good, and will also help remove any insects that may be hiding on the plant. Try to avoid leaf shine. It closes the pores on the leaves.
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