ORCHID CARE BASICS, one size does not fit all
One Size (pot, soil, water) Does NOT Fit All Orchids! Let's get back to basics...OK?
Hi, I'm Kate, a potter living in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest who makes 'homes' for orchids and their unique owners!
There are many similarities between all orchids...and yes, I'm including neofineitia and/or vandas in this most basic list. If there's something I missed (or is incorrect) please comment and I'll include it on the list.
1.) Orchids are air plants, they don't 'drink' water from the soil with roots. Their sponge-like roots take humidity and nutrients from the air. Many roots sticking out is often a sign of good health, not always a sign that it needs to be re-potted.
2.) Orchids don't do well in regular dirt, or potting soil. They thrive in potting medium made for orchids. When in doubt, use Miracle Grow Orchid Bark Medium, or an orchid potting medium designed for your specific variety.
3.) You can find the variety on the tag, it's usually the second name. It may be in Latin. When in doubt, look at the roots and the leaves. Are they narrow or wide, long or short? Are there bulbs at the surface of the medium? Google will have pictures and usually a Latin name nearby.
4.) Not all orchids need to be repotted right now. Check the medium. Is is musty, or powdery and finely degraded. Is there mildew or is is a fertilizer build-up, or 'salts'? If the medium includes moss, how does it smell?
Replace your moss often if you can, about 1x a month, and mix in just a pinch of horticultural charcoal to help keep it fresh.
Fungus loves damp moss!
A tall dendrobium with pseudobulbs and a network of fine, thin roots might use it's medium's resources faster than a vanda or a delicate mini orchid. These plants have different potting mediums and fertilizers available online. I like Gro More fertilizers made for specific orchids, and especially their bloom cycle fertilizer.
5.) All orchids like to be misted with filtered water. Most like a little mist every day. Consider the common moth orchid, or phaleanopsis. It will do well in an apartment in New York City, where the relative humidity is pretty high. It can do pretty well anywhere, even in the winter with the heat on!
Moth orchids can thrive in arid climates like Arizona, but will require extra mist, and a source of clean water under it. Hydration trays or 'drip trays' do more than stop overflow. A great hydration tray looks amazing, and supports the plant's air roots by adding humidity to the air.
A moth orchid in Arizona would do well with a large, deep tray that has 1" of aquarium gravel in the bottom. The gravel helps moth orchids have more even hydration, instead of wet/dry cycles. Remember to wash your trays and gravel often to avoid root rot or fungus!
6.) We reccomend the book: Orchids for Dummies. It's an excellent beginners guide to troubleshooting humidity, orchid variety identification, pests and diseases.
For more information find us online: www.spiritlinepottery.com