If you have you purchased (or been gifted) orchids with beautiful blooms, but the blooms are now gone, follow these easy steps to make them rebloom to their former glory.
The easiest way to kill your orchids, and most other houseplants, is to overwater them. The best way to water orchids is to take the pot to a sink, pour approximately 1/2 cup of water into the pot and then let ALL of the water drain out. Do this every 7 to 10 days, letting the soil dry out in between watering. Of course, this means your orchids should be in a pot that drains well.
Another important requirement of orchids is the amount of sunlight they receive. Direct sunlight is too harsh and will burn them, but too little sunlight will prevent them from flowering well. Orchids prefer sunlight (not directly) from a south-facing window in the winter months, and an east or northwest exposure in the summer months.
Preferred temperatures vary between types of orchids. Read the labels on the ones you have to ensure optimal temperatures for your orchids. None of them like temperatures below 60 degrees F though, and none like to be near cold air drafts. If you do not know whether your orchid is a cool, warm or intermediate type, keeping it between 65 and 80 degrees F should work.
Keep in mind that the rest periods in between blooms allow for the plants to restore their energy levels. After the blooms have faded and fallen off, wait until the stalk has completely turned brown before cutting it off at the point where it meets the plant.
Food is important though to keep your orchids blooming their best. There are commercial products available for orchid food which contains a higher phosphate (the middle number) level than nitrogen (first number) and potash (third number) for optimal blooms. Feed your orchids every second watering while in bloom, otherwise once a month.
Repotting and Air Roots
Orchids may need repotting after two years, depending on how compacted its roots are. Most orchids are grown in clear plastic pot liners (that sit in more decorative pots) with lots of drainage holes. This makes it very easy to determine if your orchid needs repotting. Simply lift the pot liner out of its outer pot and check for crowded roots.
If you have air roots forming, you may need to repot, although air roots are common and not necessarily a bad thing. They do indicate a low humidity level though. If the air roots are white or pale green and firm, they are healthy and of no concern. Leave them alone. They absorb nutrients and moisture from the air. The green colour is from the chlorophyll which is essential for photosynthesis.
You can tell a lot about the health of your orchid by the colour of its roots. Green roots mean your orchid is healthy and has recently been watered. As they dry out, the roots will become paler in colour. If your roots are yellow or brown and appear shriveled or mushy, they have been overwatered. If roots are brown and crispy, they are dehydrated. Neither are healthy and should be removed, but only when your orchid is not blooming.
I just finished repotting and reevaluating all of my houseplants, including one orchid I received as a birthday present a few years ago. This orchid was not doing much, so I followed my own (researched) advice and moved it to the bright, indirect light of a south facing window. I also repotted it as it was pot bound and exhibiting air roots.
It now has a new leaf emerging; I can’t wait for new flowers!
Hopefully the tips above will help you keep your orchids looking great. If you have put off buying them because you thought they were too difficult or fussy, give them a try. They cannot be beat for their spectacular blooms!
Let me know if you have any other tips, I have to admit I am new to this reblooming orchid experience.