Fertilizing Orchids

To help your orchids achieve and maintain optimal health, you should consider fertilizing them with a fertilizer that has been specifically designed and mixed for orchids. However, as with most things related to caring for orchids, it is possible to overdo things when it comes to fertilizing orchids.

By following a few basic guidelines you will be able to provide your orchids with just the right amount of the extra nutrients that they require!

Too Much Of A Good Thing

It is important to remember, when fertilizing orchids, that they do not require as much fertilizer as many of your other plants do; over-fertilizing your orchids can lead to a whole host of issues that it may not be possible to recover from.

Over-fertilizing can result in the leaves and roots of your orchids being burned; which in turn can result in the eventual loss of your orchid.

The addition of unnecessary nutrients will not encourage your orchids to grow or bloom at a more rapid rate; it will, instead, cause your orchids to begin a slow and steady decline.

On the flip side, but underfeeding your orchids you are also running the risk of stunting the new growth of your plants as well as seeing a rapid decline in the number and frequency of blooms.

A Few Basic Guidelines

To help you understand the best methods of fertilizing orchids, the following basic guidelines should set you on the right path to success with your orchids.

  • Your orchids should be fertilized more frequently during the months of the year when there is active growth; the warmer summer and spring months are the seasons that orchids tend to do the majority of their growing. The amount of fertilizer that you use for your orchids should be adjusted for the season; in the cooler winter months when your orchids may not do a lot of growing or blooming, you should reduce the amount of fertilizer so that you can avoid burning the roots of your plants.
  • A good rule of (green) thumb for fertilizing orchids is to do it weekly, with a weakened or diluted fertilizing solution. The “weekly, weakly” method will allow you to provide a constant source of vital nutrients to your plants without overdoing it.
  • If you have any doubt about when you last fertilized your orchids, or if you have doubts about the concentration of the fertilizer that you are using it is best to feed a lesser amount. It is far easier to increase the amount of fertilizer offered to a plant than it is to try to recover the plant from an over-feeding situation.
  • Even if you are feeding your orchids on a “weekly, weakly” schedule or with a very diluted concentration of fertilizer, it is still recommended that you flush your orchids with fresh water at least once every four to six weeks. This process will help to remove any excess fertilizer salts that may have accumulated on your orchid’s roots.

It is important to note that not all orchid’s will have the same fertilizer requirements; if you are unsure of what type of orchid you have or what its specific fertilizing needs may be, then it is generally best to err on the side of caution and under-fertilize, slowly increasing the concentration until you can find a good mixture that works for your orchids.

When fertilizing orchids or shopping for orchid food, be certain it is marked for use with your specific orchid; and remember that the average orchid fertilizer will provide nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

Orchid foods that have a higher concentration of nitrogen are formulated to encourage plant growth whereas foods that contain a higher concentration of phosphorus has been formulated to encourage orchid blooming!