Orchid Growing Tips - The Basics


Give the most that the plant can take without damage or detriment. In the greenhouse or home, use the different micro-environments to your advantage. Healthy plants that don't bloom or don't bloom well almost always lack enough light.


The best quality water has less than 300 ppm TDS and a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Have your water tested. Your Orchid Society can help you get your water tested. Water management can become complicated so get help. Good water is critical for good orchids, nothing will substitute for it.


The orchid environment should feel "fresh", never stuffy or muggy. Working this out is important. Every growing situation is different. Poor air movement/quality will result in lots of problems.


Try different things to see what works for you. Your water and mix will dictate to some degree what kinds to use. I use low dose (1/4 tsp/gal) at every watering just like nature does. Orchids are very efficient at taking up small amounts of nutrients. Choose one that has a higher percentage of nitrate nitrogen as this is the only form of nitrogen that plants can use directly. Other forms must be converted by microbial action and these forms usually get leached out of the mix before that happens. People are finding that orchids don’t need as much phosphorus as once thought.


No single mix is going to work for everyone or for every plant. Experiment with small samples. NEVER change over your whole collection to something new at one time. Do some research as to what your plant's needs are for a mix or growing surface to be mounted on.


Pay attention to your plants and let them talk to you. Catch pest problems early before they become a major issue that is difficult to control. Get help if you need it. Always check new arrivals for pests or other problems.

Virus and Disease Prevention:

Sterilize everything that comes into contact with your plants, clippers, rhizome clips, pot hangers, pots, reused mix. Use a fresh newspaper to cover the area where you work on your plant. Keep pests at bay. Use BanRot, cinnamon, or similar on a fresh rhizome cut. Also, use a HOT clipper to make the cut as this will kill spores as it cuts through, where a cold sterile razor just pushes spores into the cut. If a plant is not rare or of high value and tests positive for virus, it is best to get rid of it. Agdia Inc. (1-800-622-4342) sells an excellent virus testing kit for orchids that you can use at home.