Are you starving your orchid?

 photo DelilahFlower_zps1b5b6b3d.jpeg

So this post is overdue. You see, I took the pictures two weeks ago and now every bud but one has opened.  Since I’m keeping a data sheet for my orchids I could track the time it took for each bud to open. The first flower opened on 22/11/13, two months ago. And right now there’s still one bud left! I can’t remember if it always took that long to flower.

But I can tell for sure that I’ve never had so many flowers on this phalaenopsis. Maximum count was five. This time there are eight gorgeous flowers for me to enjoy. That’s three more than usual! I’m taking a guess here and say, it has to do with my new watering and fertilizing routine.  I used to be really scared of overwatering, so I waited until I was really sure that the potting medium was dried out. And watering consisted of drizzling a small amount of water into the pot. I was even more scared of fertilizing. I have this cheap general liquid fertilizer for houseplants (the cheapest I could find) and the instruction on it says to mix one cap (25 mL) of fertilizer with 3 L water. Well, three liters are way too much and you could really only measure 25 mL, so I had to guess the amount I needed. And since I’m such a scaredy cat, I also seldom fertilized.

To put in into a nutshell, I starved the poor plant. Not so badly that it would die but it certainly couldn’t flourish. Researching phalaenopsis on the web helped me a lot to improve my care. I began to use the skewer method: Have a skewer/wooden stick in the potting medium (best in the middle) so that it will be as damp as the medium. The medium is dry when the skewer is dry to touch and not cold. This method helped me to decide when to water. You can’t say: I water weekly all year. There are several factors that influence the speed with which the potting medium dries out: the current needs of the plant, temperature, airflow, light level etc. For instance, last summer I had to water every four days whereas now I can wait up to three weeks.

In addition, I became more confident with fertilizing. The first thing I did was to buy a small plastic syringe (5 mL) from the local pharmacist. I then calculated the amount of fertilizer I needed. Since I wanted to feed each time I water, the fertilizer had to be diluted. I chose to use 1/8 of the amount instructed on the label which is 0,5 mL fertilizer mixed with 500 ml tap water.

This all resulted in more frequent watering and feeding which I’d like to think benefits my orchids. Of course, it could also have nothing to do with my new care routines. Maybe since the plant is older now it can grow more flowers?

 photo CeceliaSpike_zpsa0dd5d7c.jpeg

Moving on to my other orchid. Back in November last year I discovered a new growth in a leaf axis and assumed it to be a spike. Well, as it turns out I was right! However, I’ve forgotten how much time it takes to grow a new spike. Patience will never be my strength.


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