When I first started buying orchids for my home, I wished I had a list of basic supplies to have on hand. So to help out other beginner orchid growers, I’ve created that very list. Also, I just like making lists, so this post is a fun one for me!
Orchid newbies usually end up with phalaenopsis orchids; the best type of potting medium for that kind of orchid is either a bark mixture, sphagnum moss, or a combination of the two. First Rays has a really good article about choosing potting media for your orchid plants.
You’ll need sterile razor blades or gardening shears to snip off rotten roots or flower spikes that have turned brown. To be completely honest, for awhile I used regular old scissors to cut my orchids’ roots. If you use scissors or shears, make sure to sterilize them before moving on to a different plant so that you don’t spread bacteria, mold, or other nasties from one plant to another. Which brings me to…
Rubbing Alcohol or Matches/Lighter
This is for sterilizing your garden shears (not necessary if you use a fresh razor blade for each plant). To do this, I soak a cotton ball with alcohol and thoroughly wipe down all cutting surfaces of the shears. Or you can take a flame to the edges of the shears. These probably aren’t the most foolproof sterilizing methods, but I think they get the job done just fine. If you’re worried that using one of these methods doesn’t do the trick, double up and use both! Just be careful using flames around alcohol…no house fires!
If your orchids have a lot of aerial roots, a spray bottle comes in handy. I spritz my aerial roots each morning using a catnip spray bottle that I emptied and washed thoroughly before filling with plain ol’ tap water. I love this particular bottle’s fine mist, but whatever type of mister you prefer is fine. You could try something like a (clean) plastic body splash bottle, like those from Bath & Body Works or Victoria’s Secret.
Part of basic orchid care is making sure the plant gets the right nutrients it needs to grow. Once or twice a month I fertilize my orchids with 1/4 teaspoon of Schultz Orchid Food dissolved in a gallon of tap water. So the next item on my list is…
I bought a $.99 gallon of spring water at my local grocery store. Once I drank all the water, I began using the container to mix and store my orchid fertilizer. Cheap, simple, and effective.
Many orchids are sold in plastic pots with drainage holes in the bottom. For those that don’t come with a saucer you’ll want to have a few on hand, whether they are terra cotta, plastic, ceramic, or whatever else you can afford. This way you can place your orchid anywhere in your home without having to worry about water leakage ruining your antique coffee table.
Bamboo stakes are essential for supporting flower spikes upright when they begin to emerge from the base of your orchid. Staking spikes helps keep the plant from falling over once the blooms open up – they can get really top heavy! Upright spikes also just make for a more attractive flower display.
Flower Spike Clips/Twist-Ties
You’ll need these items to secure the flower spike to the bamboo stake. You can get really cutesy flower, bee, butterfly, or dragonfly clips in all sorts of different colors, or you can just use plain old twist-ties. Whatever floats your boat.
It may sound like a lot of stuff to have around, but the best part about these items is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on them. In fact, you may already have most of these things on hand already. A little resourcefulness goes a long way!