Posts Tagged ‘Water’

Orchid Care and Maintenance : New Plant on Stem?

Today’s Orchid Care and Maintenance Question is from Helena in Bocas del Toro, Panama!

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Question: Two of my orchids have grown a new plant off the old flower stem.  The root is 1 1/2 in. long.  How should I remove it to repot it?

Answer:

Hi Helena!  I’m so glad you’ve written all the way from Panama!  Your orchids must be loving the warm and humid climate in Bocas del Toro!  It is difficult to say what exactly is going on with your orchid, but it sounds as though your plants are growing keikis.  (You can check out my post on orchid anatomy.)

I’ve propagated a few keikis from my phalaenopsis orchids over the years—each one has gone on to flourish into a full-size plant using the orchid propagation method below. Phalaenopsis grown this way should reach flowering size 18 months to 2 years after they first appeared.

(Proceed only if the roots of the keiki are longer than at least 2 inches.)

Orchid Care and Maintenance, Orchid Care, Phalaenopsis Orchid, Orchid Propogation

Carefully remove the small plant from the flower spike by cutting the stem 1 to 2 inches either side of the plant, this will ensure that you don’t damage the roots of the keiki.

Orchid Care and Maintenance, Orchid Care, Orchid Propagation, Phalaenopsis Orchid

Orchid Care and Maintenance, Orchid Care, Orchid Propagation, Phalaenopsis Orchid

Assemble everything you need.  This comprises of a pot large enough for 12 months of growth, a medium grade potting mix, a label with the variety and of course the keiki – see photo.

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Carefully pot the keiki —keeping the roots in tact below the orchid potting mix.

Orchid Care and Maintenance, Orchid Care, Orchid Propagation, Phalaenopsis Orchid

Protect the keiki from direct sunlight and water and fertilize regularly.

Here’s the keiki on June 30th – it has produced a new leave and roots

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The keiki has another new leaf and a flower spike emerging!

Orchid Care and Maintenance, Orchid Care, Orchid Propagation, Phalaenopsis Orchid

The keiki in full bloom

Orchid Care and Maintenance, Orchid Care, Orchid Propagation, Phalaenopsis Orchid

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Want to learn more?  Don’t miss Ryan’s Free Orchid Care Email Tips.

Warmest wishes from sunny Florida,

Carol :-)
The Orchid Care Lady

Carol the Orchid Care Lady

Orchid Care, Orchids, Orchids Care, Growing Orchids, Orchid Care and Maintenance

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Orchid Care : Diseases – Crown Rot

In today’s orchid care post, I’ll be sharing a few tips on how to care for orchids with crown rot.  You may have seen plants at your local grocery store suffering from crown rot (I see it all too often) or perhaps you’ve had to treat an orchid with crown rot in your own home.  Treating crown rot can be extremely difficult, but the more we know about it, the better we can treat, even prevent it!

Orchids are susceptible to various types of rot including leaf rot, root rot and crown rot.  Monopodial orchids (Phalaenopsis and Vandas) are most suseptible to crown rot—a fungal infection that is caused by water pooling in the center (or crown) of the plant.

Crown rot can cause immense damage to an orchid and must be treated immediately.  One solution  is to use hydrogen peroxide (3%).  You can treat the crown rot with full strength hydrogen peroxide, repeating every 2-3 days until the rot no longer fizzes and bubbles with the hydrogen peroxide application.  Sprinkling cinnamon from your kitchen cabinets can also be used to treat the fungus.

Of course, prevention is the best medicine, even when it comes to orchids.  Crown rot is 100% preventable.  Water your orchids early in the day, so that the plant has time to dry off before night time and provide your plants with proper air circulation.  Most importantly, always take the time to inspect the crown of your orchids regularly.  Take a tissue and soak up any water that has pooled in the crown.

(If you do decide to remove severely damaged orchid leaves, make sure you sterilize the blade for each cut.)

Want to receive more tips on caring for orchids?  Sign up for Ryan’s Free Orchid Care Email Tips–you’ll learn everything you need to know straight from the expert!

Warmest wishes from sunny Florida,

Carol :-)
The Orchid Care Lady

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Orchid Care & Ice Cubes :Why You Should Not Use Ice To Water Your Orchids…

There is a big debate going on out there in the world of orchid care. The topic? Orchid care and ice cubes.

I know this method works for some, but most AOS orchid growers I’ve spoken to live by the drench and drain method. (You can read my post on watering orchids if you haven’t already read it: Orchid Care: How to Water An Orchid.)

So, what’s so wrong about watering your orchid with ice?

Officially….nothing. I couldn’t find any hard evidence that proved watering your orchid with ice would cause serious damage to your plant.

Why should you not use ice to water your orchids?

There are a host of reasons….

1. Most experienced orchid growers will tell you that the first major reason would be the sudden change in temperature. A rapid change in temperature can cause orchid bud blast, that’s why I recommend watering orchids with room temperature water.

2. Cold and wet roots can invite pests and diseases. These problems can spread from plant to plant.

3. Overwatering Orchid/Underwatering Orchid issues. Ice cubes vary in size and the environment varies from one windowsill/counter/shelf to another.  So, using 3 ice cubes every other day might be too little for one orchid and too much for another.

My orchids have been happy for years using the drench and drain method.  I’ve watched them bloom year after year and have had few (if any) water related problems.

What do you think about using ice cubes to water your orchids?  Does it work for you?

Of course, everything you need to know to about orchid care is covered in Ryan’s Orchids Made Easy book. (Including a few VERY important things you need to watch out for involving watering and temperature— and one thing even experienced growers often overlook.)  Sign up for his Free Orchid Care newsletter HERE.

Warmest wishes from sunny Florida,

Carol :)
The Orchid Care Lady

Carol the Orchid Care Lady

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Orchid Problems : Overwatering Your Orchid

One of the most common orchid care problems beginner orchid growers typically face is overwatering.

Here’s a question I received via email from Bev :

I have a Phalaenopsis Orchid. I think I have over watered it and now all the blooms have fallen off except one.  It’s in a plastic pot with moss and it is damp. What should I do?  Look forward to hearing from you.  Regards, Bev L.

Here’s a photograph of an overwatered phalaenopsis :

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Orchids can become sick and even be killed when overwatered. Therefore, it is extremely important to determine whether improper watering is damaging your orchid. Don’t know if you are watering your orchid plant correctly? Check out my special Orchid Care and Maintenance post to learn how to water your orchid.

Diagnose

What are the signs of  an overwatered orchid?

Pleated, soft, yellow leaves are a sign of overwatering. Your orchid may also suffer bud blast (all of the buds fall off before they open). When examined out of the pot, orchid roots may be soggy, mushy and black.

Troubleshooting

What should I do if my orchid has been overwatered?

If the damage on the roots in limited, you can simply repot your orchid in a clay pot and fresh orchid potting mix (bark based if possible) and adjust the frequency of your watering schedule—making sure to water only in the mornings. Don’t forget to adjust temperature and humidity levels if necessary.

On the other hand, if the damage of the roots is severe, you will need to remove the diseased portions of the roots with a sterilized blade and carefully repot the plant in a clay pot and bark potting mix (otherwise you rise losing your orchid.) I recommend you refer to Ryan’s “My orchid has been over/underwatered. Now what do I do?” section in his book Orchids Made Easy, for detailed information.

Warmest wishes from sunny Florida,

Carol :)
The Orchid Care Lady

Carol the Orchid Care Lady

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Carol’s Orchid Care and Maintenance Tips : Humidity for Orchids

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Today’s orchid care and maintenance tips will help you provide an “orchid-friendly” humidity level in your home.

Most orchids thrive only when maintained in HIGH humidity conditions – think 50% relative humidity or higher (rainforest levels)!  Unfortunately, most homes typically have a relative humidity level in the neighborhood of 10-20%.  This will not keep your indoor orchids happy for very long. :(

Giving your orchids the humidity conditions they enjoy can be done fairly easily (and inexpensively).  Here’s how to care for orchids:

OPTION #1: Humidifier (Most expensive option)

Your first option is to use a household humidifier, and run it in the room where you keep your orchids.

In case you’re curious, here’s the orchid humidifier I use specifically for my indoor orchids – pretty cheap, super-easy to clean, and so far I have no complaints:

Orchid Care, Humidity for Orchids, Orchids, Orchid, AU-400 NewAir Humidifier

OPTION #2: Misting (Time consuming option)

You can also produce a similar effect by lightly misting them several times a day. Just be sure not to mist your plants late in the day—leaving them wet at night or in cooler temperatures makes them susceptible to disease. (Read about how I mist my orchids in this earlier post about watering your orchids.)

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OPTION #3: Humidity Tray (The perfect balance!)

One of the best, low-cost ways to raise the humidity level of your orchid’s environment is to grow your plants over what’s called a “humidity tray”.  Remember, you never want to let your orchids sit in standing water.

A humidity tray is something you can either make yourself, or purchase from an orchid specialty supplier relatively cheaply. One of the main benefits of using a humidity tray is that you can increase the humidity directly around your orchid – while keeping the rest of your home at normal levels :-)

And if you’re curious – what the heck does a humidity tray look like exactly?  Here’s a good example of one (with a good explanation on how it works):  Humidity Tray for Orchids

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You can even DIY a humidity tray for your orchids using a shallow container and clean pebbles.

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Those are just a few of my humidity orchid care and maintenance tips.

Of course, everything you need to know to achieve the perfect orchid humidity level is covered in Ryan’s Orchids Made Easy book. (Including a few VERY important things you need to watch out for when using a humidity tray — and one thing even experienced growers often overlook.)  Sign up for his Free Orchid Care newsletter HERE.

Warmest wishes from sunny Florida,

Carol :)
The Orchid Care Lady

Orchid Care, Orchids, Orchids Care, Growing Orchids, Orchid Care and Maintenance

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Phalaenopsis Orchid Care Instructions

Phalaenopsis orchids are among the easiest growing orchids for beginners!  These beauties can flower throughout the year (peaking in the spring) and are incredibly easy to care for as they enjoy much of the same indoor conditions found in our homes.  Just look at these flowers bloom!

Phalaenopsis Orchid Care Instructions

Phalaenopsis Orchid Care Instructions : (You might also find my post on the anatomy of a phalaenopsis orchid helpful.)

Light They grow easily in a bright window, with little or no direct sunlight.

Temperature Phalaenopsis should be above 60 F at night, and range between 75 and 85 F or more during the day.

Water Because they have no major water-storage organs other than their leaves, they must never completely dry out. Phalaenopsis orchids should be thoroughly watered and not watered again until nearly dry.  Want to know how I water my orchids?  Check out my Orchid Care and Maintenance Tips : Watering Your Orchids post for more details on my drench and drain method.

Humidity The recommended humidity is between 50 and 80 percent.  You an adjust humidity levels in your home by setting the orchids on humidity trays or on gravel, partially filled with water, so that the pots never sit in water.

Fertilizer It is best to fertilize your phalaenopsis orchid on a regular schedule, especially if the weather is warm, when the plants are most often growing.  Twice-a-month applications of high-nitrogen fertilizer (such as 30-10-10) are appropriate where bark-based media are used. Otherwise, a balanced fertilizer is best. When flowering is desired, a high-phosphorus fertilizer (such as 10-30-20) can be applied to promote blooming.  You can also dilute the fertilizer into your orchid’s water, making it a regular part of your watering schedule.

Potting This is best done in the spring, immediately after flowering. Phalaenopsis orchids must be potted in a porous mix. Potting is usually done every one to three years. Mature plants can grow in the same container until the potting medium starts to decompose, usually in two years.

To repot, remove all the old medium from the roots, trim soft, rotted roots, and spread the remaining roots over a handful of medium in the bottom of a new pot. Fill the rest of the pot with medium, working it among the roots, so that the junction of the roots and the stem is at the top of the medium.

Want to learn a few tricks of the trade?  Sign up for Ryan’s Free Orchid Care Email Tips–he shares his best secrets with his readers.  You’ll learn secret orchid care techniques expert growers use to super-charge their plants!

Warmest wishes from sunny Florida,

Carol :)
The Orchid Care Lady

These phalaenopsis orchid care instructions are taken from my AOS guides and from a series of Orchid Care Cheat Sheets I received for free from Ryan.  They’ve come in so handy when I just want a quick refresher on orchid care!

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Carol’s Orchid Care and Maintenance Tips : Watering Your Orchids

Today’s orchid care and maintenance tips are all about watering your indoor orchids.  I’m so excited to share my watering tips with you!   I’ve been following these watering basics for a few years now and my babies have never been happier!  Let’s get started! :P

Orchid Care and Maintenance

Water in the Morning

Watering Can

I water my orchids first thing in the morning while our coffee is brewing. Watering in the morning ensures that the orchids dry out by nighttime when the temperature drops. Remaining wet at night (or in cooler temperatures in general) makes them vulnerable to nasty orchid pests and diseases.

Use Room Temperature Water

This tip is simple, use room temperature water.  Never use water that is too hot or too cold for your orchids. Uncomfortable water temperature can result in damage to your orchids—and you don’t want that! :(

Water Quality

Rain Barrel Collection

The kind of water you use will make a difference to your plants.  My first choice is rain water. Did you know the organic matter in the rain water even nourishes the plants! I never miss the opportunity to collect rain water for all of my indoor plants.  I have a rain barrel that collects the run off from the roof and I place buckets around the yard to catch all the rest.  I store it in clean plastic gallon containers in my little shed. Now, I know relying on mother nature for rain is not possible in all locations. Tap water will work just fine—but you do have to be careful as our drinking water is often chemically treated with chemicals (like salt) that will harm your orchid if there is too much build up.

Ryan shares some great home remedies in his book Orchids Made Easy that will help remove water deposits from leaves. I recommend you check them out on page 40!

How

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My method for watering my orchids is easy peasy!  I like to call it the “DRENCH and DRAIN” method!  I fill a plastic tub (you can use your bath tub or kitchen sink) with several inches of rain water or tap water if that is what you have.  I then let my orchids sit in the water (about 50% of the pot should be in the water) for a few minutes–making sure they each get a good drink.  Once the potting medium is thoroughly soaked, I let the orchids sit on a drying rack (or in the drained sink or tub) for a few minutes to make sure that all of the excess water has drained before placing them back on their shelves.  I then give their leaves a light misting with a spray bottle.  Once they are back in place I use a hand towel to dry off any water that might have splashed between the leaves.  You want to make sure water does not collect deep down between the leaves because those areas can easily begin to rot! :?

How Often

In general, you want to keep the orchid potting mix moist. You can determine this by using your finger or a wooden chopstick from the Chinese restaurant.  Simply poke 1 inch into the orchid medium, if the chopstick is damp/wet, your orchid is perfectly fine. It will take you just a few weeks to figure out what your watering schedule will be each week (once or twice a week, etc.).

Orchid Care and Maintenance, Orchid Care, Yellow Leaves on OrchidBUT, there are few factors you should be aware of.  The type of pot and potting medium you use do impact your watering schedule. For instance, both plastic pots and moss medium retain more water and stay wetter longer than clay pots and bark medium do.  You also want to pay careful attention to the type of orchid(s) you have.  Cattleyas, Cymbidiums, Phalaenopsis and Dendrobiums for instance each have different water requirements.  In fact, most orchid problems (diseases and death) are the result of improper watering–usually overwatering.

(Be sure to check out my other posts where I’m sharing everything I know about caring for each of these orchid varieties.  Also, don’t miss my special  posts about orchid pots and orchid potting mix.)

Well, these are all the watering tips I have for you today!  Hope they make caring for your orchids a tad bit easier.

ps. Don’t forget to check out Ryan’s Free Orchid Care Email Tips.  He offers some incredible watering advice I didn’t get the chance to share with you today!

Warmest wishes from sunny Florida,

Carol :)
The Orchid Care Lady

Carol the Orchid Care Lady

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