Easy Fertilizing Tips and Tricks
Author: Melanie DearringerNo Comments
When we remove orchids from their natural habitat, we are blocking their ability to obtain the nutrients they would otherwise be absorbing from their environment. While potting medium does provide some nutrition, it is quite minimal. This is why it is important to regularly fertilize your orchid with all the nutrients it requires to promote plant health and hearty blooms. The specifics of orchid fertilization does differ from genera to genera. However, regardless of if you are feeding one particular type or a varied collection, there are some general fertilizing tips you should follow.
A good starting point is to apply fertilizer to your orchid using the “weakly, weekly” approach, meaning the fertilizer is diluted or weakened to one quarter strength and applied on a weekly basis instead of one full dose once a month. When talking about fertilizer the minimalist saying of “less is more” is spot on. Feeding your orchid too much or at a stronger concentration than recommended can actually damage your plant causing leaf and/or root burn. We find it best to start safe, observe the results, and adjust upward if needed.
Water quality is important. Rainwater or reverse osmosis (RO) water are best for your orchid. Please note that if you are using RO water, it is necessary to use a fertilizer that contains crucial micronutrients. While reverse osmosis removes chemicals that could be harmful to your orchid, it also strips the water of these trace elements. Chlorinated tap water can also be used if allowed to sit overnight so that the potentially harmful chlorine level can dissipate.
Flush your orchid with plain water before fertilizing. This will not only dissolve and remove harmful salt build up from fertilizer product but will also protect your orchid’s sensitive root system from root burn. Always remember to hydrate your orchid before feeding, as fertilizing a dry orchid is never recommended. Avoid using water that has passed through a softener as it may contain high quantities of sodium that can intensify the rate at which build up occurs.
Don’t pour fertilizer directly over your plant. This can cause leaf burn. Instead, gently lift your orchid’s leaves and carefully pour the fertilizer over your potting medium allowing the pot to thoroughly drain.
Fertilizer is not a magical cure-all. If your orchid is not in good health, a fertilizer is not the answer and can be more harmful than helpful.
Dehydrated plants are most vulnerable to fertilizer burn. They are not able to absorb and process the fertilizer properly. Feed sparingly in this situation at a more diluted rate.
Do not save the excess fertilizer water that drains through your pot. Plants, like all other living things, give off waste product. By reusing this water, you allow plant waste to become built up in the potting medium rather than being flushed away.
SIGNS OF OVER-FERTILIZATION
The proof is in the roots. Lack of root growth, dead root tips, or brown roots can be signs of over-fertilization. Advanced fertilizer burn will cause leaf tips to brown due to serious damage to your orchid’s root system. Your orchid may also experience floppy, dark green leaves. High levels of salt concentration on your potting medium is another sign that your plant may be receiving too much or too frequent of a feed.
THE ROAD TO RECOVERY
If you find that your orchid has been damaged due to overuse of fertilizer, there are a few things you can do. First, you’ll want to remove the plant from its pot and clear away all of the old potting medium. Next, flush your orchid’s roots with plain water to remove any accumulated fertilizer salts and repot the plant using new medium and a new grow pot. Continue to water regularly but hold off on fertilizing until the plant has had time to establish.
Click here to access our FREE Guide to Orchid Fertilizer that you can share, save, and refer to whenever you need!
How to Fertilize Your Orchid http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-fertilize-your-orchid.html
American Orchid Society https://www.aos.org/default.aspx?id=1
Hilltop Orchids http://www.hilltoporchids.com/Frequent_Q___A.html