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Fertilizing Orchids: How and When?

by Farmvina
Fertilizing Orchids

Fertilizing Orchids: Fertilizer Basics

It is important, when you grow orchids, to fertilize them correctly. A well fertilized orchid will not only keep their leaves longer, but will produce more flowers.

Knowing how and when to fertilize is something you will need to learn. You need to be careful because if you use too much fertilizer on your orchid, you could harm the plant and may even burn the roots.

Overfeeding your orchid can also cause the plant to grow too fast which will make the plant weak and more vulnerable to orchid disease. Not using enough fertilizer can also stunt the growth and flowering process.

How To Fertilize Orchids?

Fertilizing orchids is an essential aspect of their care to ensure healthy growth and vibrant blooms. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to fertilize orchids:

Choose the Right Fertilizer:

  • Use a balanced water-soluble orchid fertilizer, such as a 20-20-20 ratio, for regular feedings.
  • Opt for a high-phosphorus fertilizer, like 10-30-20, to encourage blooming and spike development.
  • Select a high-nitrogen fertilizer, like 30-10-10, to promote leaf and pseudobulb growth.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding dilution and application.

Dilute the Fertilizer:

  • Dilute the fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically, a 1/4 to 1/2 strength solution is suitable for orchids.

Pre-Water the Orchids:

  • Before applying fertilizer, water the orchids thoroughly. This helps prevent the roots from getting burned by the concentrated fertilizer.

Apply the Fertilizer:

  • Apply the diluted fertilizer to the orchids while watering. Pour the solution directly onto the growing medium, thoroughly saturating it.

Avoid Fertilizer on Leaves or Flowers:

  • Ensure that the fertilizer does not come into contact with the leaves, flowers, or pseudobulbs. Wipe off any spills promptly.

Frequency of Fertilization:

  • Fertilize orchids every 2-4 weeks during active growth periods, typically spring and summer.
  • Reduce the frequency to every 4-6 weeks during autumn and late winter.
  • Adjust the frequency based on the orchid species, growth stage, and fertilizer type.

Flush the Medium:

  • Periodically flush the growing medium with plain water to remove excess salts and prevent buildup.
  • Water the orchids with plain water every few months to ensure the growing medium remains healthy.

Monitor and Adjust:

  • Monitor the orchids for signs of over-fertilization (e.g., salt buildup, yellowing leaves).
  • Adjust the fertilization frequency and strength based on the orchid’s response and overall health.

When you grow orchids, there are a few things you should remember in terms of how to fertilize. The first thing is to never fertilize an orchid that is dry.

It is important to water your orchid first, because if your orchid is dry when you water, you could inflict damage to the roots in terms of burning. This will cause the roots to turn a dark brown or black color and could ultimately kill your orchid.

When Should I Fertilize?

Knowing when to fertilize is another very important aspect. Many orchid growers like to fertilize on either a weekly or a monthly basis. If you choose to get into this weekly fertilizing routine, you will need to be sure to use a weaker fertilizing solution (usually one-quarter of the strength) than suggested on the instructions.

To help you remember to use a weaker solution you can remember the saying “water weekly, weakly”. If you choose to water on a monthly basis then you will need to use the fertilizer solution at full strength according to the instructions on the package. It is extremely important that you follow the fertilizer’s guidelines when diluting the solution as to not over-fertilize.

The frequency and type of fertilizer can also vary based on the orchid type and growth stage. Here’s a general fertilizer schedule for orchids in a table:

Growth Stage / Frequency Fertilizer Type Dilution Application
Every 2-4 weeks (Active Growth) Balanced (e.g., 20-20-20) 1/2 to 1/4 strength Apply while watering, saturating the roots.
Every 4-6 weeks (Late Winter) High-Phosphorus (e.g., 10-30-20) 1/4 strength Encourage blooming and spike development.
Every 4-6 weeks (Early Spring) Balanced (e.g., 20-20-20) 1/2 to 1/4 strength Promote new growth and overall health.
Every 4-6 weeks (Summer) Balanced or High-Nitrogen (e.g., 30-10-10) 1/2 to 1/4 strength Support leaf and pseudobulb growth.
Every 6-8 weeks (Autumn) Balanced (e.g., 20-20-20) 1/2 to 1/4 strength Prepare orchids for winter and reduced light.
Note: Dilution and frequency may vary. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions.

Adjust the frequency and strength of fertilization based on the specific orchid species, growing medium, and local conditions. Always water the orchids before applying fertilizer to avoid root burn. Additionally, flush the pots with plain water periodically to prevent salt buildup.

Fertilizing Orchids

When to Fertilizing Orchids?

Once you’ve finished adding the fertilizer to the orchid, it is important that you remember to let the plant drain very well so that you don’t have extra water sitting at the bottom of the pot.

Once a month (regardless of which fertilizing routine you use) you should make sure to get rid of any built-up fertilizer and salts that weren’t absorbed by the plant. This is done by rinsing the potting medium thoroughly.

There are a few instances in which you should not fertilize your orchid. The first reason is if your orchid is sick from disease, has extensive damage to the roots, or if the plant is pest-ridden.

Also, many types of orchids slow down during the winter or even go dormant. Because it doesn’t make much sense to fertilize an orchid that is dormant, you can start the fertilization process again in the spring, once the plant starts its next growth period.

Conclusion on fertilizing orchids

When you grow orchids, you will want to observe them on a regular basis, so that you will be able to determine if there are any problems that have started to form. By catching problems early enough, you will be able to make modifications before they can turn in to something that is serious.

Originally posted 2021-03-03 11:25:22.

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