Brooklyn Orchids

Keikis: What They Are and What to Do with Them

Keiki: A baby orchid!
Keiki: A baby orchid!

Say you have a lovely Phalaenopsis orchid and one day you notice that there’s something growing off of its spike, something that doesn’t look like a flower bud. Maybe it looks like a new leaf or two (like in the photo to the right)…and after awhile what looks like a root starts to appear. What is this growth? Is it normal, and what should you do with it?

I get a lot of questions like these from readers, so it’s well past time to dedicate a blog post to the topic. The growth I described above is a baby orchid or plantlet, known to orchid lovers as a “keiki” (the Hawaiian term for “the little one”).┬áKeikis are clones of the “mother” plant and can either be left attached to the mother or removed and potted individually once they have grown large enough. Keikis can grow off of the spike or stem of the mother, or they can begun to sprout from the plant base, in which case they are referred to as basal keikis (I currently have two of these developing on one Phal). Read more

How to Fertilize Phalaenopsis Orchids

A few of my orchids in bloom

Like all living things, orchids need nutrition. Feeding (fertilizing) your orchid is an important part of caring for it and making sure that it lives a long and healthy life. This post about how to fertilize an orchid is waaaaayyy overdue…but better late than never, right? I’m going to talk specifically about fertilizing Phalaenopsis (moth) orchids because Phals are the most common orchids for beginners, available everywhere from corner delis to Home Depot, Ikea, and Trader Joe’s. Read more

How to Cut a Phalaenopsis Orchid Spike

Phals at NYBG Orchid Show 2012

So you have a beautiful Phalaenopsis orchid, but its blooms are starting to wilt and fall off. What do you do now?! First of all, don’t freak out and throw your plant in the garbage; fading flowers are totally normal and they do NOT mean that your orchid is dying! Orchids can live for years and years and years with the proper care. Part of this proper care is knowing when and where to cut the flower spike. This is one of the most common questions I get in the comments section of my blog posts, so I thought it would be helpful to write about how to proceed once your Phal (the most widely available type of orchid) has finished blooming.

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How to Recognize Orchid Roots and Orchid Spikes, Part Deux: Photos!

I’m finding that my post about how to identify whether you have an orchid spike or a root is my most viewed post by far. For example, just in the past week, my spike* vs. root post has been viewed nearly 6x as many times as my second most viewed post of the week. Clearly, “is it a root or is it a spike?” is a big question for new orchid owners!

So in the interest of helping orchid growers out even more, I decided to do another post on this topic, this time with LOTS of photo examples to help better illuminate what a root looks like and what a spike looks like. If you haven’t read my original post, I recommend doing so before you dive into this one. All the below photos are of orchids in my own collection. Because you’ll see more roots growing from your orchid than spikes, let’s begin with root pics:

Two roots emerging from the base of a Phalaenopsis

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“What’s a spike?” A glossary of orchid terms

At the NYBG 2010 Orchid Show

Learning about orchids can feel like learning a foreign language. When I first started surfing the internet for information about orchids and how to care for them, I felt a little dazed and confused; orchid lovers on forums were throwing around all sorts of terms that meant absolutely nothing to me. Over time these terms became a part of my vocabulary, and I want to share with you a glossary of the terms that I encounter most frequently when reading about orchids. So below is a list of terms that I wish I’d known when I got started with the hobby. Of course there are a million more terms out there to learn – the world of orchids is virtually endless – but this list should help you on your way to understanding these wonderful plants.

In alphabetical order:

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Basic Orchid Supplies for the Home Grower

Photo credit: otolithe (olivier roux), Flickr

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!

Potting Medium

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.

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