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Grown Here at Home: The basics of caring for orchids

If you love orchids and are just now becoming familiar with the plant, there are some basic things you should establish so your orchid will keep blooming.
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 7:34 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - When orchids bloom, it’s quite the sight to see. When caring for them, it’s important to mimic their natural environment as much as possible, so they’ll thrive.

Cyndy Unwin volunteers to help care for the orchids at the Community Arboretum at Virginia Western Community College. She’s a member of the Blue Ridge Orchid Society and loves the plant. She has about 100 in her home.

“It just brings me joy every day to walk in and see something blooming, no matter what time of year it is,” Cyndy said.

She has some tips to help you keep your orchid alive and thriving. If you buy an orchid from a big box store it will typically be a Phalaenopsis Orchid. These types have medium to low light needs.

“They would like a bright indirect light coming in an eastern or even a western window,” Cyndy said

If you find your orchid looks healthy, but isn’t blooming, pay close attention to the color of the leaves.

“If their leaves are a medium-green color, that’s a good color. If they’re really dark, dark green, they’re probably not getting enough light to rebloom,” Cyndy explained.

Orchids do best in a pot with good drainage.

“Once a week give that orchid a really good flush of watering,” Cyndy said.

Give the pot a little jostle to make sure the water is drained really well.

“You can get the leaves wet as long as the leaves are dry by time nighttime comes because that’s when the rot can set in,” she explained.

She also says you should plant your orchid in bark and chunky perlite.

“Once the orchid has been in the bark for two or three years, that bark starts to break down into soil and the oxygen to the roots decreases and you’ll get root rot, so the importance of repotting can’t be understated,” she said.

Cyndy says the best time to replant an orchid is in the spring when you start to see new growth coming up or new roots forming. Fertilizer is important. Orchid roots are adapted to pull in nutrients almost immediately. You’ll want to use a weak fertilizer, not one that’s super concentrated.

“We fertilize three out of every four weeks during the growing season and then we cut back a little during winter to about once a month,” Cyndy said.

That’s some of the basics to help you get your orchid started off right. Contact the Blue Ridge Orchid Society to learn more about caring for orchids and to join. You can send them a message on Facebook. They meet once a month.

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