Growing an orchid is not an easy task: caring for this tropical flower involves observing many conditions and nuances. And one of the most important conditions for the successful development of an orchid is feeding. How to correctly feed orchid flower at home, we learn from the article.
When to feed Orchid
We will find out in what periods of the growing season the orchid should be fed.
Within the next month after this procedure, feeding the orchid is not needed. It is necessary to wait until the plant is fully rooted and adapts in a new place, and only then carry out the first application.
Important: if the transplant was carried out in abundantly fertilized soil, do the next introduction of nutrients no earlier than 3-4 months later.
Whether it is worth feeding the orchid during this period – the flower growers have not yet come to a complete consensus. Some believe that feeding during flowering is necessary for an orchid, since it consumes nutrients very actively during this period.
There is also a considerable part of flower growers who believe that the plant does not need feeding during the flowering period. They explain their position by the fact that additional nutrition during this crucial period leads to too rapid withering away of the buds.
As in many other cases, in this it is important to adhere to the rule of the golden mean. This means that it is possible to fertilize an orchid during flowering, but not too zealous at the same time. It is recommended to apply top dressing no more than once a week, while observing the measure and the proportions of fertilizers recommended by the instructions.
Check out guide Why Are The Flowers Falling Off My Orchid?
During the period of active growth
When, after the next period of dormancy, the orchid wakes up and begins an active growing season, it is imperative to feed it. Competent feeding with a high nitrogen content during this period will help to quickly build up the fur green mass. However, it is important not to overdo it with nitrogen, since in this case the formation of peduncles will be inhibited.
In order for the orchid to bloom faster and more abundantly, it is recommended to fertilize it with potassium and phosphorus. At this time, it is recommended to make top dressing twice a month.
How to stimulate flowering
In order for the orchid to bloom magnificently and violently, it should be prepared for this process in advance. Around September, it is recommended to change the fertilization schedule and reduce watering. The period of artificially created drought is intended to “scare” the plant and thereby cause the rapid formation of its peduncles.
After the peduncles begin to form, reinforced fertilizing is needed: it is recommended to double the amount of nutrients. Under the influence of enhanced nutrition, the orchid will bloom vigorously and for a long time.
For most orchid species, there is a dormant period during the cool season. If feeding is carried out, then in a minimal amount and rarely, but it is better to forget about them altogether before the flower awakens.
Homemade Fertilizers to Feed Orchid
Let’s get acquainted with the most effective varieties of dressings for a home orchid.
We will find out what improvised means can be used to feed an orchid at home.
These “fragrant” fertilizers are not suitable for all types of orchids, but mainly for Cymbidiums and Cypripediums. But, since it is difficult to correctly determine the required proportions of these organic dressings, they are often replaced with mineral fertilizers of a similar effect.
Coffee and tea
Use these invigorating drinks without sugar. Tea and coffee naturally and mildly acidify the substrate, and also contain small amounts of beneficial trace elements.
The method of preparation of the infusion is as follows: you need to insist in a liter of water the peel of one medium banana. After infusion, the concentrate is diluted with water in a 1: 1 ratio. The resulting working solution is fertilized with an orchid.
See also Propagating Orchids From Aerial Roots.
Water from potatoes
After boiling potatoes, water remains saturated with useful potassium – it can be used to feed a flower. To use water, it must first be filtered and cooled.
Onion peel decoction
The broth in this case should be rather weak. Onion husks are rich in potassium – a very useful trace element for orchids. Also, thanks to this top dressing, you can protect the roots of the plant from putrefactive processes, fungal diseases.
To prepare the broth correctly, you need to brew a glass of dry onion peel with a three-liter volume of water. The container is wrapped in an insulating material, the liquid is infused for 8 hours. Before use, the infusion must be diluted in a 1: 3 ratio.
It is recommended to use ashes from coniferous trees for feeding orchids, since it is the richest in useful minerals. The working solution is prepared weak: a glass of ash per liter of water.
Best Minerals to feed orchids
For the normal development of an orchid and its long, abundant flowering, many minerals are needed. Next, we will consider those substances, the presence of which in the feeding is absolutely necessary.
This element is an indispensable component of all protein and other organic compounds in plant tissues. The main function of nitrogen is to launch an intensive process of photosynthesis, which affects all vital processes, first of all, the formation of a lush green mass.
If the orchid does not have enough nitrogen, it will react to this fact by crushing, blanching the foliage, losing a fair amount of decorativeness, drooping, weakening the stem, and stopping development.
This mineral is responsible for carbon exchange in plant tissues, and in general for the health of the flower. Potassium directly affects the formation of flower buds, so the use of the mineral is extremely important for lush flowering. Potassium is also required for cellular water exchange. This mineral increases the immunity of the orchid, its resistance to various diseases and misfortunes.
If the orchid is deficient in potassium, it will manifest itself in the form of too small buds and a small number of them. In addition, the flowering time will be significantly shorter. Due to the lack of potassium, by the way, nitrogen will not be able to fully assimilate.
The orchid needs the mineral for the correct and active development of the roots, as well as for the complete transfer of all important varietal genetic traits to the offspring. Phosphorus is indispensable in the processes of flowering, plant reproduction. If the orchid is critically lacking in phosphorus, it may even die, in milder cases it weakens, fades.
Magnesium and boron
Trace elements necessary for normal energy metabolism. With their lack, the vegetation process slows down noticeably, which greatly affects the development and flowering of the orchid. Drying of buds is likely, cessation of flowering completely, even dying off of growth points.
Sulfur and iron
A lack of these minerals is likely to lead to yellowing of the foliage – the so-called chlorosis. Chlorosis-affected orchid leaves become much less decorative, take on a painful appearance, and wither. In severe cases, the foliage dries up and dies off.
In addition to the minerals already listed in smaller quantities, but, nevertheless, the following substances are also needed:
Make sure that they are necessarily present in the complex fertilizer.
Read also Best Growing Medium for orchids.
Rules for feeding orchids and fertilizing
Several important rules regarding fertilization for indoor orchids.
Do not feed the plant immediately after transplanting. It is necessary to give time for adaptation, which usually takes a month. Until the roots have taken root in the new soil, they are weakened and simply cannot “digest” the feeding. If you have purchased an already blooming orchid, apply top dressing only after the flowering period is over.
Don’t rely too much on the popular fertilizer sticks and pills. This method of application is convenient only if the orchid grows in a small pot. If the container is large, the stick will not be able to provide food for the entire plant.
It is best to use liquid feed with the most balanced composition. Also make sure that the acidity of the dressing is at 5-7 pH, not more. The fact is that if the soil is highly acidic, it is likely to lead to putrefactive processes in the roots.
If it is not possible to purchase a special top dressing for orchids, it is permissible to use ordinary universal ones, intended for all indoor plants. However, they need to be diluted with water in a much weaker concentration than the instructions recommend (about 3-4 times).
Always water your orchid before fertilizing. If feeding dry, the roots of the plant can get burned.
Remember that when it comes to orchids, it is better to under-feed them than to over-supply them. The roots of the plant are highly sensitive and the high concentration of trace elements often leads to burns. If the roots are affected, the flower is likely to die.
After the top dressing has been applied, let the plant dry out. It is unacceptable to expose it wet in the open air, under drafts. Such a mistake often leads to a cold, a disease of the plant.
methods of feeding orchid at home
The orchid can be fed both by the traditional root method and by foliar feeding. Further, we will consider both methods in more detail.
This method of introduction is traditional and you cannot do without it. In this case, fertilizing fertilizes the roots of the plant directly, directly.
Before applying, it is important to water the soil so that the roots do not get burned. All dry fertilizers are diluted in water at room temperature according to the instructions. Topdressing is carried out by the submerged method, like regular watering of an orchid. To fully saturate the roots, a 20-minute immersion is enough. Simultaneously with the immersion, you need to scoop up liquid top dressing from the container and water the soil from above. After the procedure, the pot must be placed on a pallet and the excess liquid must be allowed to drain.
It is also a common method of fertilizing, but less frequently used with root fertilization. More often foliar dressing is used when it is impossible to carry out root dressing: for example, when the roots of a plant are sick or there is chlorosis of the foliage.
This method of application must be used with caution and when preparing the working solution is weaker. Spraying is carried out from a spray bottle: it is necessary for the liquid to fall on the foliage, and not on the inflorescences. It is recommended to spray the orchid in the morning when there is still no bright sun that can leave burns on the leaves of the plant.
Tips & Tricks
If the orchid is sick, you need to postpone the feeding. Cure the flower first, then fertilize. Otherwise, the situation can be aggravated.
Be careful with fertilizing during the flowering period. It is better not to be too zealous, as large doses of minerals can negatively affect the splendor and duration of the blooming period.
During the rest period, it is better to minimize feeding, or even stop them altogether. Let the flower rest and prepare for the next stormy growing season.
It is optimal to choose liquid fertilizers for feeding, intended specifically for this type of flower.
To make orchid babies
In order to get high-quality orchid babies for its further reproduction, it is recommended to use a hormonal agent cytokinin paste. This dressing is able to wake up the buds that are in their embryonic, dormant state and activate the formation of new ones. Thanks to the use of the product, multiple children are formed, which after a while can be safely deposited.
We learned how, when and what exactly to feed orchids at home. As you can see, you can use both minerals and folk remedies, and application is possible both by root method and by spraying. Now you know which trace elements are especially important and prevent starvation of the orchid: and this is the key to good health and long flowering of an exotic plant.