How Not to Kill Your New Orchid.....

I publicly admit to being an orchidholic; I've been one for over 30 years. I used to pay some princely sums for orchids at orchid shows and through mail-order firms. I would never have imagined seeing such a selection of quality orchids at the retail level as I see today. You can now buy blooming orchids for under $ 20 at big-box stores which would have cost double or triple that much at an orchid show just 20 years ago. When you see these new dazzling orchids, it is easy to impulse- buy them. What is the best way to tend to them when you get them home ?

It would be hard to give out one uniform direction for the wide array of available plants, but here is a good set of general directions:

--keep the plant in a sheltered,shady area,
--water it weekly with enough water so that water flows out the bottom of the pot,
--plants will do better outside than inside,
--don't expose the plant to direct sunlight,

Keep in mind that most orchids are tropical plants; they won't appreciate the dry air of air conditioning for very long. Most orchids die of overwatering, so don't try to make plants grow by watering them very often. Wait until after flowering for that part.

When the flowers die, cut off the brown flower spike, but not the stem it was attached to. If the flower stem is still green, better to wait until the spike dries up. Put the plant outside, in a bright, filtered shade area, out of direct sunlight. Consult your local orchid society, or your local horticulturist for more advice !

Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens

1 comment:

  1. Once again a very useful post for very amateur south florida gardeners, especially since orchid ignorance and killing is rather prevalent now that one can readily buy (and subsequently kill) orchids from many big-box stores within a few miles of home here in Miami.

    The advice on cutting off the brown flower spike should be common knowledge but i was in fact asked this just today - really!

    And are Phal. just as fine grafted to a tree as they are in a pot?