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How to care for orchids

How to care for orchids

Orchids are actually a large 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 lovers of gardening and decoration because, despite their enormous variety, all orchids have large and striking flowers.

However, caring for these plants may not be so simple at first. This great diversity also differentiates them in their needs and it is essential to have a good knowledge of them in order to be able to take good care of orchids. if you want to learn how to care for orchidsjoin us in this EcologíaVerde 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 fans and in stores are the Phalaenopsis orchids, among which are the so-called white orchids and pink or fuchsia orchids are also very popular.

Phalaenopsis are epiphytic orchids, that is to say, that in their natural habitat they grow holding on to the branches and trunks of trees, instead of burying their roots as land 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 terrestrial orchidssuch as Calanthe or Cymbidium, climbers or lithophytes, such as Laelia, which grow on rocks and not on trees.

If you have just received or bought an orchid, the first thing you need to do is identify its specific species in order to provide it with 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

As far as their light needs are concerned, you only 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 tree canopy, 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 a lighted area, but especially sheltered from the hours of greatest incidence of the sun, which are usually midday. If it is, instead, how caring for a potted orchid at homeit is best to place it in a very bright roomnear balconies or windows where the incidence is not direct or where curtains filter or sift the light.

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

How To Care For Orchids - Light And Location For Orchids

orchid pots

This is one of the most particular points in the care of orchids, especially if we refer to the epiphytic type, and that is that these plants are capable of carry out photosynthesis with their 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 holessince, as we will see later, when it comes to the subject of how to water an orchid, it must be done by immersion.

How to care for orchids - Pots for orchids

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 hot, such as in desert climates, nor too cold. These plants should always be kept in a temperature range of between 10ºC and 30ºCbeing 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, we must bear in mind that when we put these plants inside the house because they cannot be outside, we cannot place them next to these devices while they are use, as this will harm them and they can dry out and die.

irrigation for orchids

Traditional irrigation with a watering can tends not to be suitable for these plants, since it is likely that we will end up giving the plant 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 the pot of your orchid in water at room temperature and without lime. Tap water tends to be unsuitable depending on the area, so you can use rainwater, or if that’s not possible, let tap water sit for 24 hours before using it for irrigation so minerals can settle.

How much to water an orchid

Leave the pot submerged in a basin with enough water for between 10 and 20 minutes and 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 do you water an orchid?

In general, it will be enough to apply this process 1 time per week during their busiest months and every 15 days in its resting season, that is, in the cold months. In any case, and when in doubt, it should be known that orchids take drought better than excess water. If you think you’re watering it wrong, try slightly spacing out your waterings and observe the changes.

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

How to take care of orchids - Irrigation for orchids

humidity for orchids

As tropical plants, orchids also need high environmental 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 leaves of the orchids in this way, 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 fertilizer for orchids

These plants are not very demanding with their substrate, since their roots do not look for food in it. So 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.

Regarding the payment, 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 attached, they have quite different needs from common terrestrial plants. Do not use organic fertilizers or universal chemicals, as they could burn and damage their roots. Instead, it is best to use fertilizers and specific fertilizers for orchids or epiphytic plants.

orchid pruning

You also have to think abouthow to care for orchids after flowering. This is when it becomes important orchid pruningsince it is the most important step in the care of these after flowering.

When the flowers have already fallenPrepare sterilized pruning shears 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 stems that are drying up and will not serve anymore. In this way, 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 care for orchids - Pruning orchids

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 for it not to flower during the first few years: some take up to 5 years to do so. After taking this into account, it is important to take into account the following orchid care to flourish:

  • Pay attention that the humidity levels are adequate, checking that both its leaves and roots show a healthy green.
  • Make sure that 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 pruned it directly last season.

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

How to take care of 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 whether the plant is at the limit due to drought or excessive irrigation.

Caring for an orchid that is dying of drought

If it is apparently dry, try submerging it for half an hour in water at room temperature and then let the excess water drain off, as in a common immersion irrigation but longer. If this is the first time this has happened, your orchid will most likely recover.

Caring for an orchid that dies from excess water

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

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 you can learn and avoid or correct them in time.

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