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Last October I made some tissue paper flowers and attached them to my bloomless orchid.  I have a reputation with plants that includes the words ‘black’ and ‘thumb.’  I had convinced myself that my orchid was a goner but kept watering it to keep the stem looking green.  I’d read somewhere about orchid food or fertilizer or something like that but decided I would likely kill it anyway so why not save myself that hassle and money.  Over the winter I continued to water the roots although the time between waterings got longer and longer.  It wasn’t unusual for it to go 2+ weeks without a single drop of water.  So, imagine my surprise when I discovered this just a few days ago…

See that new budding sprout off to the right of the main stem?  That little orchid is a fighter.  A survivor, I tell ya.  But then I got to reading about orchids and it appears they go through a necessary resting phase every year usually during colder months.  Eventually, when they’re ready, spikes will form off the main stem leading to buds and flowers weeks – or even months – later.  So it appears my orchid is having a little resurrection of its own…just in time for Easter.  Now I feel obligated to keep this baby alive.  Since it is Earth Day tomorrow and all.

Anyone know how to properly grow and care for orchids? Do I repot, fertilize, water more, water less?  Any advice would be greatly appreciated!  My orchid thanks you in advance.

images:  all Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

17 Comments

21.April.2011

The orchid you have, a phalanopsis, actually grows in debris trapped between tree branches. So don’t repot it, and if it starts sending aerial roots up and out of the bark, don’t trim them. As long as the stem is green, it’s likely to do what yours is and branch out — if the whole stem turns to straw its OK to cut it. And as long as the leaves are green and happy, it may well put up another stem the next season.
It really will be happier w/ a weak solution of orchid fertilizer in the water — the motto is water weakly, weekly. And, phalanopsis are particularly susceptible to something called crown rot — when water gathers between the leaves where the leaves join. So if you ever accidentally get water in there, blot it out w/ a twist of paper towel.
Enjoy! They are really pretty low maintainence plants, and clearly you have yours where it gets the right light, humidity and temperature variation to be happy.

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21.April.2011

Oh, I think this little plant will stay alive;)
What works the best with my orchids, and I have about 15 of them, is rainwater!
That`s it, just collect some rainwater, and water them, one day a week, when it`s really hot two times.
In winter month this plant don`t need much, just one time every two weeks little water and a shady place where it can rest.
It`s really simple to keep them beautiful;)

Lovely greetings…:)

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orchids are just sooooooo sensitive! I just LOVE your paper blooms though! Those are totally gorgeous!

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21.April.2011

Had your blog passed along to me by a friend and have enjoyed reading. I used to have an orchid – “used to” might scare you away from any advice I can give but I think I wasn’t patient enough during its resting phase. Gave up way too quickly. In terms of watering however, while it was alive, we were told to water it with 3 ice cubes a week. I guess the roots absorb the water slowly and so the dripping of the ice cubes allows the roots to do their thing. Anyway, it lasted quite a while and didn’t seem under or overwatered. Yay for you holding out that long – totally worth it, I think, since orchids are so beautiful!

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21.April.2011

I found the best trick is to put enough ice cubes (about 10 for a 6-8 in pot) on a weekly basis to keep the soil/bark moist but not too wet. Overwatering is not a good thing with orchids because they can get “root rot” which is exactly what it sounds like. Good luck!

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21.April.2011

Orchids like it when the soil gets completely dry between waterings. When they grow in the rain forest, they grow on trees so their roots are completely exposed. So when they have one of their famous heavy rains, it doesn’t kill the orchid. The best way to water an orchid is to put it in the shower, turn the water on, water, turn off, then leave the plant in there a while to drain. This especially best if your orchid lives in a clay pot or a pot inside a decorative pot like yours looks like. That’s probably why your started surviving so well when you forgot to water for 2 weeks or more. There was probably way too much water retained in the decorative pot. So next time just stick your finger in the soil to see if it needs water. If it’s dry, then it’s time. If it’s wet or even damp, wait until it’s dry. Easy!

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21.April.2011

In my experience the easiest way to water an orchid is to put three ice cubes in the pot once a week. I have done this to my orchid for over a year and it has done great. It’s also in a spot that has a lot of windows and gets a lot of bright indirect light. I had had an orchid in the past and over watered it and it eventually died.

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21.April.2011

I was once told by a lady selling orchids at a farmer’s market that fertilizing is very important for re-blooming. So now might be a good time to buy some orchid food and start giving it the extra nutrients. Also, I once worked for a lady that loved orchids and had dozens on rotation at a green house. After they were done blooming she would send them to the green house for several months where they were dormant for awhile and then once she had several plants blooming again she would go pick them up. Her orchids were so large and beautiful and smelled wonderful too.

I love how you put the tissue flowers in the pot as a flower-placeholder. I do the same thing! I go to Michaels and buy one or two of those fake orchid stems and just stick it in the soil. Everyone thinks it’s real! Well, good luck with your little orchid. My thumb’s not so green either.

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21.April.2011

This is so exciting. I got a beautiful orchid in January but the flowers began to droop about a week ago and are just about toast. I’m happy to see that there’s hope as the stem and leaves are still vibrant :) I will have to make some placeholders like you did! thanks for sharing.

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21.April.2011

I LOVE the little tissue flower fillers. I do the same thing, I have a “fake” orchid that everyone thinks is real, ha! Orchid are really beautiful. I got impatient with mine, as well, during it’s dormant phase and threw it out. Good luck with the little guy!

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Yay, Dana! I’m starting my indoor flower adventures with a very fickle miniature cyclamen (cyclamen also go through a hibernation of sorts — ironically, during the summer months, I just found out). Hang in there!

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21.April.2011

I’ve never grown orchids, but I always admire other people’s — such as yours, even with the fake blooms! :)

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21.April.2011

I found this website when looking for information on orchids. You might find it to be useful
http://justaddiceorchids.com/ Hope it helps!

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22.April.2011

Hey Dana! Great idea with the tissue flowers, why didn’t I think of that before? ;-) As Samma said earlier here, they’re very easy & low maintenance plants, all they need is a bit of love, lots of light and little water. But hey… it’s easy for me: my hubby takes care of all my orchids. LOL!
Great website by the way!!! Love it!
Hugs from Belgium,
Inge

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22.April.2011

That is a fun surprise. Good luck with the growing I have always heard Orchids are hard to grow so I have stayed far away.

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22.April.2011

Congrats! You are an inspiration to all of us black-thumbers. :)

And thanks to all of the commenter advice, perhaps I’ll try again with an orchid…

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24.April.2011

Okay, my (very first) orchid looks almost exactly like yours except it still has two blooms that are hanging on for dear life. The others have already fallen off and I’m about to have a plain ol’ stick.

I was at a friend’s house this morning who has about six different orchids (and she’s able to keep them alive)!!! She told me to cut the stem down, not all the way to the bottom but leaving a few inches. She also told me that she puts Epsom salts in her water every so often and the plants love it. I’m going to try it tomorrow. Good luck with getting yours to bloom again! :)

Sarah

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