care of Orchids
after Orchids on the window-sill
It should be challenge for everybody to look after these beautiful
plants and to see them flower. Orchids do not need any extra care
compared to other houseplants. Their optimum growing temperature depends
very much on the variety you want to grow. In most cases a regular
living room temperature is good enough for many varieties. New varieties
or hybrids of Orchids, especially for the windowsill are raised all
If you are a beginner grower you are advised to start with Phalaenopsis.
Within Phalaenopsis there are many hybrids (crossings), large flowers
and an abundance of colours. These are also the plants that can flower
all year round. Whenever a stem has finished flowering, that same
stem can produce flowers again. That is why we advise you to cut off
the stem above the 2nd or 3rd eye after flowering. This will give
you the biggest chance that the stem will flower again, or even grow
a fully new stem. You will have to be patient as most Orchids only
flower once a year.
In general all plants will have a rest period after flowering, depending
on the variety and type of Orchid. During the rest period the plant
requires less warmth and water. Important is the potting compost in
which the Orchids are grown, as one mixture is drier than the other.
The four most important growing impulses are: light,
warmth, water, and fertiliser.
Light is the most important source of life. Sun-energy
is absorbed and stored by the plant as sugars and other compounds.
The plant produces energy from carbonic acid, water and light by
means of its leaves (assimilation). In the summer the plant needs
to be protected by curtains or sunscreens. Never place the plant
in full sunlight. Too much light will cause burned leaves and the
shine of the leaves will disappear. In winter, on the other hand,
it is important to use all the sunlight that enters the house.
Warmth and moisture stimulate the plant's growth. By
insufficient temperature plant-growth will be slowed down. This can
mean a stunted growth. Daytime temperature should be 19 to 25 C°
and night-time temperature 16 to 19 C°.
Life without water is unthinkable. A healthy root system
can absorb sufficient water and distribute it to the leaves. Sugars
are transformed into energy with help of water and oxygen. This energy
is used by the plant to produce flowers and to stay alive. How much
water should be given? Not too much, but definitely not too little.
This is something you should develop a feeling for when taking care
of Orchids. Whenever the plant is in full growth it will need more
water. In winter it usually needs less water. It is better to give
the plant insufficient water than too much. Too much water will cause
rotting of the roots. It is best to let the soil dry out between watering.
In winter the orchids need watering once a week, in summer this could
be 2 to 3 times a week. Make sure you add the water from below (in
a saucer) so the plant does not absorb all the water in one day.
||Watering can be done on the
pot from above. By placing the pot in a bigger decorative pot (e.g.
stone) and a little raised, the water can seep away from the plant
and you will thus avoid root-damage through rotting. If you prefer
watering from below on the saucer, then only give as much as the plant
requires for one day, to avoid the plant being stood in water.
Orchids do need fertilisers. How much, again, depends
on the season of flowering and rest period of the plant. Advice is
to follow the following scheme: from half February until half October
add extra potassium+ once a month. From half October till half February
the plant doesn't need any extra fertiliser. All other elements such
as nitrogen, phosphor and normal potassium should be available in
the fertiliser too. General fertiliser for houseplants will do, but
even better is special fertiliser for Orchids, as this contains the
right balance between the elements.
In general orchids are transplanted once in the two or three
years. In spring you need to transplant the Orchids that flower in
autumn. In September/October you will have to transplant the spring
flowering Orchids. Orchids that grow with a fake tuber need to be
planted with the tuber against the inside of the pot, so the young
sprout will grow in the centre of the pot. Orchids, like Phalaenopsis,
should be planted in the middle of the pot. Only use airy potting
compost, with preference for special Orchid mix.
When the first flowers on the stem have died you are advised
to cut off the stem as low as possible. After this you give the plant
a rest period. This is a general rule for all Orchids, except the
most popular pot Orchid Phalaenopsis. This particular Orchid needs
to be cut above the second or third eye. The benefit is that a new
stem will appear within some weeks (to some months), while other orchids
need 4 to 8 months to produce a new stem. This particular trick with
Phalaenopsis can only be done once or twice, after that you need to
cut of the stem of this variety as low as possible too.
Some handy tips:
- Special fertilisers for Orchids are available from your local
garden centre. If you use general houseplant fertiliser, you are
advised to use half of the dose mentioned on the packaging.
- If you use fertiliser regularly it is best to rinse the soil
now and then with clean water, to prevent the soil from absorbing
too much salt and to avoid the plant from suffocating.
- When you transplant the Orchid, make sure to take off the old.
Leave the plant to dry out for a day, only then plant the Orchid
in new potting compost. Of course the best soil is special Orchid
- Many Orchids originate from countries where it is warm and humid.
The best way to create a similar condition at home is to use a
bigger decorative pot. This pot should be filled with a layer
of gravel of approx. 1 cm. The gravel should be moisture. Put
the plastic pot with the Orchid on top of the gravel. The water
between the gravel will evaporate, providing optimum conditions
for the Orchid.