I’m back! I know, it’s been awhile since my last post (as usual). My orchids are still adjusting to our new apartment, and though I’ve lost a couple that were doing poorly even before our move, most of them seem to be pretty happy here. I’ve also achieved my first African violet bloom in about two years!
Lately, I’ve been attempting to revive my Mule Ear Oncidium, which I grew mounted on a slab of tree fern for years. After our move I un-mounted it from the slab, which was beginning to disintegrate, and cut off a whole hell of a lot of rotten roots. The plant has put out many new growths over the years but it has never really thrived or bloomed, and it had become clear to me that it was time for a change. I mean, look at the base of this poor thing:
A few of the most common questions I hear from readers are:
• “My orchid’s leaves are wrinkled/turning yellow/drooping/falling off, what does this mean?”
• “My orchid’s roots are brown/mushy/hollow, what should I do?”
• “My orchid is sick, how do I save it?”
So I thought it was high time I wrote a post with advice on how to nurse an orchid back to health. Please note that these tips specifically refer to Phalaenopsis (aka Moth Orchid) care, because that is the most popular type of household orchid. Also, I’m not going to discuss how to treat orchid pest or viral/bacterial problems in this post…we’ll save those for another day.
Fall isn’t traditionally the time of year for new plant growth; fall is the season in which the leaves on many outdoor plants start to turn all manner of fiery colors and drop off. On the other hand, certain types of household orchids, such as the ever-popular Phalaenopsis, often begin to put out spikes in the fall that lead to spectacular blooms in the winter and spring. When left to grown on its own, an orchid spike can become heavy with blooms that droop down over the side of the pot, so I highly recommend staking your orchid’s spike to secure it and to make for a lovely cascading spray of flowers like so:
The only materials you’ll need to stake an orchid spike are a bamboo flower stake and some flower clips or twist ties, all of which are readily available in gardening shops, big box home improvement stores, and online. Oh, and a little patience helps too. 🙂 Read more
Happy Almost Friday, orchid lovers! Just wanted to drop a brief update here: I’ve added an Orchid Care FAQs tab to the main menu up at the top of my website. I’ve been meaning to collect and organize these blog posts in one location for some time, because I know not everyone can quickly or easily find my blog’s Orchid Beginner Tips category (and I fully admit the category is not super organized once you’ve navigated there).
So here the Orchid Care FAQs are here: click on overto find a list of links to my orchid care tips for newbies.
I’m willing to bet that most orchid growers are introduced to the hobby through Phalaenopsis orchids (aka moth orchids) that are already in bloom. Phals are attractive houseplants even when they’re not in bloom, but let’s be honest: when was the last time you fell in love with an out-of-bloom Phal in the store and just had to have it?
With some basic care, it’s not hard to keep a Phal alive through its blooming cycle, but once those pretty blooms fade and you cut the flower spike, how do you get an orchid to bloom again? Too many people feel intimidated at the thought and just toss the “dead” plant away. Please, I beg of you: do not throw your no-longer-blooming orchid in the garbage! Getting an orchid to re-bloom can feel challenging, but once you get the hang of it and your orchid flowers again for you, it’s SO worth the bit of work you put in. You CAN get a healthy orchid to re-bloom! Here are the basics… Read more
If you’ve asked the question above, you are not alone! Let’s first geek out a little about words and define “aerial roots.” The prefix “aer-” is derived from the Latin word aer, which means air. So the word aerial itself is the key to unlocking the meaning. In orchids (as well as many other plants), aerial roots are roots that grow from the base of the plant upward, or out into the air, rather than down into the soil or inside the pot.
What is the purpose of aerial roots? Well, a great many types of orchids, including the most popular household orchids—Phalaenopsis—are epiphytes, as are Dendrobium, Oncidium, Vanda, Cattleya, and many many more. This term is used to describe plants that grow attached to other plants, trees, branches, stumps; in other words, epiphytes do not grow in soil. Rather, an epiphyte’s roots are exposed to the air (hence the term “aerial roots”) and cling to the surface of tree trunks and other organic matter while soaking up water and nutrients from the plant’s environment. These roots form the building blocks of the orchid and are absolutely vital to its ability to thrive. Read more