If you’re wondering how to fertilize your orchid collection, then you have come to the right place. Like any other plant, orchids require fertilizer to thrive. However, they do not need much—and too much fertilizer can burn sensitive orchid roots. Feeding your orchids properly will help them grow and produce beautiful blooms. Here are some tips on how to fertilize orchids.
Watering Orchids Weekly
You’ve probably heard of the saying “Water weekly, weakly,” which is an old rule of thumb among orchid growers. Off and on over the course of the week, it’s good practice to turn the watering can on its side and pour water directly onto the roots of your orchids. Water only with pure water. Use demineralized water for tender species of orchids that grow in an acidic or alkaline environment.
Every week, with your second watering, mix in a small amount of fertilizer. Use a standard 20-20-20 fertilizer at 1/4 strength and a 10-10-10 fertilizer at 1/2 strength, following the label directions on specialty orchid fertilizers.
Too Much of a Good Thing
You have to remember that overfeeding orchids can happen. This is because synthetic fertilizers, such as ammonium phosphate and potassium nitrate contain mineral salts. These build up over time and can harm plants. Additionally, plants that are overfed often grow too quickly and become weak and susceptible to disease. Finally, many kinds of plants don’t produce as many flowers when fed excess fertilizer. Find the balance and stick with it.
Use Fertilizers Only During Growing Season
Many orchids—for example, dendrobium orchids—grow only in the spring and summer. On the other hand, Cattleya orchids grow much more slowly in the winter months. Knowing when your orchids grow is a crucial skill to learn as it will greatly influence when and how you feed your plants. This is because there’s really no benefit in feeding a plant that has stopped growing, which means you should only feed your orchids with fertilizer during the growing season. Start feeding an orchid again once you see fresh buds forming.
Fertilize with the Right Kind of Orchid Fertilizer
Orchid fertilizers are available in several different forms, including granulated, liquid, and tablet forms. However, each type of fertilizer differs slightly, and some work better with certain orchids.
Granulated orchid fertilizers should be mixed into water. They contain a high nitrogen content, which helps plants form roots and leaves, along with a touch of micronutrients to aid the plant’s growth.
Liquid orchid fertilizers come in a variety of different formulations, but the most common forms for orchids are those with high nitrogen content, along with micronutrients. The idea is to give the plant the minerals it needs up front, rather than feed it minerals constantly.
Tablets are often used for orchids with delicate roots. The tablets are placed inside a water-soluble covering, which dissolves the tablet once the water touches it. The nutrient-dense solution then spreads into the roots of the orchid.
Fertilizing orchids can be a tricky part of orchid care. You should think of your orchid collection as a garden, and it will grow well if you fertilize it properly. These tips will help your orchids reach their full beauty.
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