Orchids Care: How I Fertilize Orchids

May 23, 2019

Orchids Care: How I Fertilize Orchids

orchidOrchids like people need to eat to be healthy and reproductive. There are so many information and recommendations could be found on Internet these days. I am not advising anyone to change the way they hydrate and fertilize their plants, just sharing how I do it.

This is what I learned, experimented and adopted for my orchids and seems it works well.  By “orchids” I refer to different types I have: phalaenopsis, dendrobium, oncidium, cymbidium and epidendrum. Hope to extend in future to other types.

Most of the orchids are light feeders and do not need high amount of food, but it should be constant. I am rotating fertilizers I have feeding ones a week and each forth time just flashing with clean water. By clean -I mean rain, distilled or dehumidifier water. All clean water I use have less than 25 pps.

I know that proper PH is very important for orchid to except the nutrients. You may use the finniest cocktail and orchid won’t take it if PH is not in between 5.5 and 6.5 which is slightly acidic. As I learned, dendrobium nobile can tolerate up to 7.5 PH.  I tried to use PH meter for a while and give up because of the constant calibration requirements. But I know my water now (usually 7-8.5 PH) and know that adding regular fertilizers are lowering PH to required range.

I do a quick flash to let roots get wet and then in about 15 min soak pots in high trays with fertilized water for about 20-30 min. The ones in leca or lava rocks may stay a little bit longer. Very important to do this in a morning and run a fan or keep outside for drying out by evening. Otherwise some problems might start with root or crown rot.

To measure the concentration of nutrients in water I am using the TDS meter which shows the parts per million results. I try to stay in 160-180 ppm for my mixes picking up the ingredients. I am watering during summer every 3-4 days and during winter ~ 7 to 10 days. TDS meter is very easy to use I might add another article on how I use it and what my starting water results  TDS meter I use

Ok, now WHAT I am using… here is the list:

  • Epsom Salt -it’s actually a Magnesium Sulphate which helps for proper chlorophyll syntheses in leaves. It is very important as well as calcium for cell development in new leaves and other tissues You can see deficiency when leaves have yellowish spots or foliage discoloration. I use ~30 ppm for each watering and foliage and aerial roots spray (avoid spray on flowers). Epsom Salt I use
  • Organic Lime– this is a major source of calcium. It is very important as well as magnesium for cell development in new leaves and other tissues. I take a pinch and spread it over on top of the media ones a month at the summer time during the grow period and hot weather. It is slowly dissolving during watering and absorbing by roots. Organic Lime I use
  • Seaweed/Kelp Extract– seaweed is an organic, low-nutrient fertilizer with some essential micro-elements, less likely to burn orchid roots and leaves than chemical blends. It aids in decomposition and release of nutrients. I add 15 -20 drops per gallon of water. Seaweed/Kelp Extract I use
  • Better-Gro/Grow formula (20-14-13)- high nitrogen content fertilizer applied during active growing periods promotes healthy foliage and plant vigor. I use about 60-80 ppm. Better-Gro/Grow formula I use
  • Better-Gro/Bloom formula (11-35-15)– orchid flower production is enhanced by high potassium levels. I start to use in in early fall about 60-80 ppm. https://amzn.to/2HxSbyJ
  • Dyna Grow/Bloom– I just recently learned about this brand. Seems it is very easy to use, and it has the calcium/Ca which usually not present in Better-Gro formulas. I just bought this sample on Amazon. Dyna Grow/Bloom

Please let me know if you want to hear more about anything else or have questions. I am learning too and will be glad to share with you what I know so far.

If you are local to DC, MD, VA area and like to share your orchids’ experience and learn more from other, please join our FB group https://www.facebook.com/groups/DMVOrchidsLovers/

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