- - FERTILIZING -
-When you are fertilizing orchids, you need to remember
that most orchids grow above the ground (usually attached to trees)
and that they are fed and watered by rain runoff containing very diluted
nutrients. Because of their natural habitat, most orchids are not heavy
feeders. The old saying, "weakly, weekly" is a good rule of thumb
(fertilize using a weak solution one day per week) when fertilizing
What kind of fertilizer should I use?
The correct type of fertilizer to use on your orchids is
very important! Avoid using general purpose fertilizers designed
for lawns and gardens.|
All fertilizers consist if three main
The ingredients are mixed in various combinations because plants
have different needs. The combinations are indicated by a three number
- nitrogen--(N)--which promotes general
- phosphorus--(P)--which promotes
- potassium--(K)--which promotes strong
A good balanced fertilizer like 7-9-5 (N-P-K) is good for all
mediums you might be using to grow your orchids in. For years, it was
thought that bark robbed nitrogen from the orchids and that a high
nitrogen fertilizer such as 30-10-10 was needed. However, recent research
in this area has proved this to be untrue.
- The first number is the percent of nitrogen (N)
- The second number is the percent of phosphorus (P)
- The third number is the percent of potassium (K)
To help promote flowering,
you can use a special type of fertilizer called "blossom boosters." This
is used just prior to bud formation and is a 3-12-6 formula.
use fertilizer containing urea on any orchid. Urea requires breakdown by
soil microbes. A toxic salt build up can occur that can burn tender
You may notice that when the three numbers are added up, they
don't total 100%. The missing percent is composed of inert ingredients.
Fertilizers are distributed in many forms, granules, liquid,
spikes, etc. I recommend you use a water soluble (granules that are
dissolved in water or liquids that are diluted with water prior to use)
type orchid fertilizer which should be available in most garden centers.
How much fertilizer should I use?
The recommended dosage varies according to the manufacturer but is
usually only 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon per gallon of water. Follow the
manufacturer's directions and remember, "weakly" is better! Less is
better than more!
How often do I fertilize?
Some orchidists recommend fertilizing every week and others
recommend every other week. I personally water every week and add
fertilizer to my water every other week.
How do I know if I am not fertilizing
Smaller than normal growth or yellowish leaves is an indication of
possible insufficient fertilizer. Most of the media used to pot orchids
offer no nutrition to the plant. Organic media (bark and moss) will
release small amounts of nutrients as they decompose.
How can I tell if I am over fertilizing?
A salt buildup (which looks like white crusts on the media and
around the pot) is a sign of over feeding. The roots of your orchid will
turn black if they come into contact with this salt buildup and if the
buildup continues, the plant could die. When the tips of the leaves die,
it could also be an indication of too much fertilizer.
To prevent this
condition, you should practice a alternating watering and fertilizing
routine. Give fertilizer to your orchid at every other watering. This will
allow the fresh water to flush your orchid of any leftover fertilizer,
salts, and minerals that may have built up in the pot.
What should I do if I have been over
The best thing to do is to re-pot your orchid in a new (sterilized) pot with new
media. Before placing your orchid into its new pot, flush the salt from
the roots and around the growths with running water. Reduce the amount of
fertilizer to the recommenced amounts.