It’s December, and most of us are looking for our green thumbs to get their gardening fix with a variety of indoor growing activities. If you have not previously picked up the hobby of orchid cultivation, we think it’s a perfect way to while away the winter.
Why Grow Orchids?
Impressing family and friends with your orchid-growing abilities is a valid reason to grow orchids, but there’s so much more pleasure in cultivating these beauties than just for an ego boost.
They are beautiful! Orchid flowers just drip with gorgeousness—literally. They mimic pollinators and throw off showy blooms. The curving arch of the phalaenopsis flower stalk, for example, is studded with those classic blooms. Which, by the way, can keep flowering for a month or more.
Pops of color. Orchids come not only in a wide range of varieties, they’re also available in a ton of colors. And as much as we love our foliage plants adding a tropical feel inside our homes, orchids’ colors add that all-important pop of color. And if you have multiple orchids, you can swap in plants that are just blooming and swap out those that finished until they flower again.
Orchids are easy. They may have an air of complicatedness, but orchids truly are easier than you think. You just need to find the growing conditions that work for them. Once you figure that out, it’s really just a plug-and-play growing procedure.
Affordable. Orchids have come down in price over the last few decades and can now be found in pretty much any garden center, grocery store or home improvement superstore. Considering their length of bloom and your soon-to-be-developed skill at getting them to rebloom, orchids really do represent a great value.
We’ve put together a few tips on how to get started on your new orchid obsession.
One of the reasons orchids are more affordable nowadays is because some commercial orchid growers are using growing media that may not be the best for the plant long-term. Keep in mind that many orchids out in nature grow in the crooks of trees with their roots exposed. Their roots aren’t meant to be in soil or in a growing media that stays too wet for too long. Many orchids are potted in a mix of small bark chips, charcoal chips and sphagnum moss. This mix is apt to hold too much water, especially due to the sphagnum, and will eventually smother and rot the orchids’ roots.
Organic Mechanics’ Cactus & Succulent Blend contains shale, sand, rice hulls and earthworm castings, and is scientifically designed to allow for just the right amount of moisture holding capacity. We add in biochar and compost, too, which helps retain biology by providing organic matter in the root zone, aiding in plant growth. The key here is that roots will be moist but not wet, plus they will be surrounded by soil organisms. These are all good things.
One small watering tip will take your sorry and saggy orchid and make it a lush and turgid plant, and it’s this: Soak your orchid in room temperature water all the way up to the surface of the pot. Set the timer for 10 minutes, and once it dings, pour out the water (TIP: use it to water your other houseplants!). Do this every week. If your growing media is well-draining yet moisture-holding, the chunks of media around the roots will still feel somewhat moist to the touch six days later. You’ll notice after a few weeks that any limp leaves will firm up and even begin to grow upwards.
Oh, and that “add an ice cube” watering technique? Don’t do it. First, it’s too cold and will shock the orchids’ roots. And second, this technique won’t allow the growing media to become soaked with enough water.
If you plan to keep your orchid reblooming for years, you’ll need to replenish its nutrients with some sort of plant food. Using whatever you already use for your houseplants is a good option. A general all-purpose liquid fertilizer will suffice. Follow package instructions for amount. If you follow the 10-minute soaking method for watering, soak it in the fertilized water, and be sure to water the rest of your plants with the soaking liquid.
Another way to increase the vitality of orchids is with a “tea” or infusion of our Worm Castings These castings are 100% worm poop and encourage high levels of microbes. These microbes help plant roots in taking up nutrients in the growing media. Fertilizer for orchids is good, but adding in Worms Castings helps makes that fertilizer do an even better job.
Light and Humidity
Imagine your life as an orchid in its native habitat, just hanging out in the crook of a tropical tree. What’s life like for you? You have a tree canopy above you, so it’s a bit dim. It’s possible it just rained or it’s about to rain, so you’re feeling the stickiness of humidity. Those conditions translate into a northern home environment as indirect light and humidity levels higher than you naturally have in your home, especially in winter. In that case, place your orchid in a north window or on the northern side of a southern-facing room. A humidifier would work wonders for your plants and for you, but if that’s not possible, place your orchid in a pebble-filled dish with added water.
Doing all you can do to provide these four things for your orchids will go a long way in helping you become an orchid master. And our being able to help with two of your orchids needs makes us feel awesome, truly. Now, head over to www.organicmechanicsoil.com for our Worm Castings and Cactus & Succulent Blend to get started on a hobby that’ll not only add amazing pops of color to your world, but will also make you feel pretty darn accomplished, too.