Homemade Fertilizer Recipes That Will Skyrocket Your Orchid Growth

Growing Orchids for Beginners

Orchids for Dummies

Discover how to:
* Select orchids that will thrive in your home
* Water, fertilize, repot, and propagate orchids
* Decipher complicated orchid names
* Get familiar with favorite orchid varieties
* Create spectacular orchid displays

In this article, I will try to give an outline of the process of growing orchids for beginners. It is split into seven sections, each highlighting an important part of caring for orchids. They are; choosing your orchid, potting media, light, water, temperature, humidity and fertilizer.

Choosing your orchid
With over 20'000 species of orchid (not including hybrids and cultivars), choosing one for your home can seem quite daunting.

Some can be quite difficult to grow whilst others (despite popular misconception) are relatively easy. Phalaenopsis and paphiopedilums are good recommendations for beginners as they are suited to survive in the home environment.

Whichever species of orchid you decide to buy, it is important to check out a few things before handing over your money. Firstly make sure that the plant is in proportion to the pot and the roots are in the potting media. Check that the leaves are light green and unblemished and that there are some unopened buds. Also, ensure that it is free of pests and fungal spotting.

Useful Links
How to Take Care of Orchids Part 1: Choosing Your Orchid
Buying Orchids Online
Choosing Your Orchid by Don Leming of Eddon Orchids
Choosing Orchid Plants
How To Choose An Orchid

Potting media
Orchids do not grow in regular potting soil - in fact planting your orchid in soil is a great way of killing it. In the wild, orchids attach themselves to other structures such as trees or rocks. In the home, the potting media should allow water to drain quite quickly and give the orchid's roots pace to breathe. Good examples are tree bark, wood chips, fern, charcoal and moss.

Useful Links
How to Take Care of Orchids Part 2: Potting Media
Orchidmania - Potting Media
Orchid Potting Material
The Significance of Orchid Potting Mix
Repotting Orchids

Light
Giving your orchid too much or too little light is one of the easiest ways to damage and one of the most common causes of unhealthy orchids.

You can tell if your orchid is receiving the right amount of light by looking at it's leaves. Healthy orchid leaves will have a light green colouration whereas an orchid that has been getting too little light will have dark green leaves and an orchid that has been getting too much light will have yellow/red/brown/ leaf colourations.

Useful Links
How to Take Care of Orchids Part 3: Light
Orchid Care Tips: Light
Light for Orchids - For Dummies

Water
Generally orchids should be watered around once a week or every 5 days if it is particularly warm. Never over-water your orchid as this can lead the roots to rot - when in doubt, under-water rather than over-water.

Useful Links
How to Take Care of Orchids Part 4: Water
Watering Orchids
Orchid Care & Maintenance: How to water your indoor orchid

Temperature
A temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal as the daytime temperature for most orchids and around 60 degrees F at night. Despite this, orchids are quite tough and can withstand moderate variations from this. It is important to make sure that there is a nocturnal drop in temperature of around 10 degrees F to ensure that your orchids bloom.

Useful Links
How to Take Care of Orchids Part 6: Temperature & Humidity
Orchid Care Tips - Temperature
Orchid Plant Care: Temperature

Humidity
Orchids require at least a 50% level of humidity to remain healthy. In areas of low humidity, humidity trays can be used to ensure there is enough water in the air for your orchid. These trays sit under your orchid and contain water which will evaporate and rise increasing the humidity level around your orchid.

Useful Links
How to Take Care of Orchids Part 6: Temperature & Humidity
Orchid Plant Care: Humidity Levels
Create your own humidity tray discussuion at Orchid Geeks
How to make your own humidity tray.

Fertilizer
It is important to regularly feed your orchid with fertilizer to ensure that it is getting enough nutrients. A 20-20-20 fertilizer is best (the numbers refer to 20% nitrogen, 20% phosphorous and 20% potassium respectively). If you have potted your orchid in tree bark, a fertilizer with a higher nitrogen content is preferable because bacteria in the bark will also use it, potentially starving the plant.

John Perez, a professional gardener and orchid grower has developed a number of specialist orchid fertilizers. You can get his recipes here.

Useful Links
How to Take Care of Orchids Part 5: Fertilizer
Homemade vs Manufactured Orchid Ferilizers
Choosing your Orchid Fertilizer
The Orchid Fertilizer Bible
How to Use Fertilizer in a Potted Orchid Plant
Orchid Fertilizer

Summary
By reading this article, you will have gained a foundation of knowledge in caring for orchids. I hope you go on to find success in this rewarding hobby and develop from beginner to expert quickly.

To get a more in-depth knowledge of the orchid, we recommend Carl Harrison's Ebook. This tome contains just about everything you need to know about growing orchids for beginners and experts alike.

Good luck and have fun :)

Orchids: Everything You Need to Know - one of the best orchid resources on the Internet.