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How to grow and care for charming orchids

An orchid can live happily for a long time in a pot, blooming season after season, but every few years you have to replant the plant. The growing medium breaks down over time and will not anchor the plant properly or provide it with the necessary nutrients. An orchid may also grow out of its pot, or the cachepot the orchid came in may not be the optimal vessel for the plant.

Know how to care for the orchid plant and when and how to repot it to keep your orchid happy and healthy.

These plants thrive in bright light, but not direct sunlight in the late afternoon (although dendrobiums can handle more sun). They also need high humidity and air flow around the roots. They need regular periods of drying alternating with heavy watering. Orchids do best in temperatures above 50 degrees but below 85 degrees.

The closer you can get to creating these conditions, the more success and better blooms you will have.

Most store-bought orchids come packaged in cheap plastic pots with the roots packed in wet moss. Obviously, this violates two of the main rules of successful growth. There is no airflow around the roots, and the roots never get a chance to dry out completely. Thus the plant cannot breathe and root rot is inevitable.1

Orchid roots are highly specialized organs designed to absorb water very quickly and respire. They do not extract nutrients from the soil

The first step with any shop orchid is to enjoy the bloom. Do not attempt to repot a flowering plant.

After flowering is complete, go ahead and cut off the dead flower spike with sterile snippers and replant the plant. Orchids should be potted in specialized orchid pots in an orchid mix. Orchid pots have wide drainage slots so that the water literally flows through the pot. They are generally available. Orchid mix usually consists of several thick ingredients, including pine bark, charcoal and even styrofoam.

Set the plant in the pot and fill around it with potting mix. The plant should stand firmly, but it will not be fully anchored. Eventually, new roots will grow through the potting mix and attach to the pot itself, anchoring your plant.

replant the orchid with new potting mix
Once repotted, find a good spot. An east-facing window with a few hours of mild morning sun is perfect. To provide the necessary humidity and catch runoff, place the plant in a wide, deep tray and fill the tray with gravel.

Caring for your orchid is quite simple. During the summer months, water it weekly and heavily. Let the water submerge the roots and fill up the stone tray. It doesn’t hurt every now and then to put the plant in the sink and really soak it. Don’t worry, you won’t kill it as long as it is allowed to dry out afterwards.

During the growing season, feed it weekly with a weak solution of a powder or liquid fertilizer.

In winter, keep your plant warm and reduce watering to once a month or so. Mist it every now and then to make sure it stays hydrated. Do not fertilize it.

If you see signs of distress, such as yellowing leaves, wrinkled leaves or no flowers,1 move the plant and continue to adjust your conditions. Once an orchid finds a happy spot and falls into a routine, the plant should regularly put out new roots and leaves or canes and reward you annually with a beautiful bloom.