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Currently updated info and changing parts of the blog. Many links will be down today and the layout may be a bit wonky until tomorrow! Thank you for all your support! ❤️❤️

15% Promo Code for my favorite orchid website!!

Special code for you all for 15% off your entire order at http://www.repotme.com. This is my favorite orchid supply company and the only one I use for my personal orchids. I am never without their FEED ME fertilizer, WASH ME orchid wash and GET OFF ME bug spray. I use their premium orchid mix and it has never let me down. Also I enjoy their Quantum probiotic for extra bloom boost and their oxygen core dual pots.

http://repotme.refr.cc/myfirstorchid

READ THIS FIRST!! Does your orchid have drainage?

Help! My orchid is potted in a non-draining pot. What should I do?

Updated 12/10/17

It’s happened to all of us…we are at the store and we spot a beautiful orchid in a decorative pot. “That would make an excellent gift and/or it would be amazing on my windowsill at home.” We snatch the orchid up and bring it home. To our shock and sadness, it only blooms for a short while and then the leaves start to turn yellow or wrinkle up. So we toss it. “Orchids are so hard to grow,” we think.

What we failed to realize is that this beautiful orchid was planted in a pot without a drainage hole (as shown in all the pictures above). You see, orchids NEED drainage to survive. They naturally live in a jungle environment, often times on a tree, with free-flowing water. And unlike other plants, orchids will suffer in standing water. They WILL die in this environment because these pots suffocate the roots of an orchid by trapping water. This process causes root rot, which is hard to fix. It is essential to have your orchid in a pot that allows water to flow freely out the bottom. Refer to the pictures below. Check out my favorite pots here.

So what can you do?

Don’t get confused –  most websites say to wait to repot orchids till after their blooms have fallen. NOT in this case, because they need to escape this environment. Repotting orchids in bloom can cause the blooms to prematurely fall off due to shock. But I don’t want you to fully repot it. I want you to “drop pot” or create a situation in which it has drainage.

1. GENTLY pull the plant out of the closed container. Hopefully, inside the pot with no drainage, there is another clear plastic container with drainage. If this is the case, then leave it alone outside of the “no drainage” pot. Let it completely dry out. The next time you water it, be sure to follow the watering instructions on my post, Watering Orchids. Eventually you can repot it (once the blooms have fallen) in a more substantial drainage pot. Most of the time, those inner plastic pots are pretty flimsy.

2. If there is not an inside clear pot, you will want to gently pull it out of its singular pot. If it won’t budge, then you can soak it in a tub of water for a few minutes (this softens the roots) and see if you can gently pull it out. If it still won’t budge, you may have to break to the pot in order to take it out.

Moving a currently blooming orchid from one pot to another is called “drop potting” and should only be done in extreme situations such as this. You are not going to want to fully repot it. Once you have freed the orchid from the suffocating pot you will want to “drop” (place gently) the orchid, IN ITS ORIGINAL mix, into a similar size pot with drainage. In extreme situations I cut off the bloom/stem when I realized the roots were rotting so bad that they could not support this bloom cycle and the whole plant would die. You see orchids work in a balance between their leaves, blooms and roots. Cutting off the bloom stem helps transfer the plants energy to growing new roots and new leaves.

3. Now that your orchid is in a cozy and free draining home let it rest for a bit before watering. Hopefully, the new drainage will allow it to bloom happily for months. You may lose some blooms due to “Bud Blast,” but this does not mean the plant is dying. It is just adjusting to its new home, and is protecting itself by letting it’s blooms fall off.

4. Once your orchid is done blooming, follow my repotting instructions because they will most likely need completely new mix.

Note: Here are more pictures I took at local grocery stores for your reference. These are potted in non draining pots.

Hope that helps,

Hannah

Feel free to leave comments or questions here, and you can always email me at myfirstorchid@gmail.com with pictures of your orchid.

Season by Season Orchid Guide

Updated 2/27/17

This post is going to be a “one stop guide” of everything I do throughout the year with my orchids and what’s going on with them during this time. You can search the various topics in the search feature on the blog for extra advice on what to do.

Quick background on orchids to help explain the seasons –

Orchids grow in nature at a different rate than orchids sold in stores (please click on my post titled “Orchids Grown In Nature” for more information). This is because stores buy orchids from nurseries which have a controlled environment which “forces” orchids into bloom by speeding up natural cues synthetically. They do this by giving them light, (please click on my post on Light Requirements for more information) temperature and humidity that is controlled by indoor nursery environments.

  • In nature orchids normally bloom once a year, for an extended period of months, usually in the Fall through early Spring. Their “nature” cue to bloom is the cool weather in the Fall.
  • Normally in the Summer months leading up to Fall orchids will be in their “active growth phase” which is when they grow new leaves and new roots. Orchids prepare for Fall blooms by storing up energy in new growth (almost like if you were to eat super healthy for a few months before a big race) which is why I give my orchids extra fertilizer at this time. Their “nature” cue at this time is the warm Summer months.

Nothing is wrong with nurseries “forcing” orchids into a cycle. But later on this post, when I explain that my orchids are on a certain cycle it may be confusing to you because your orchid may be on a different cycle. This may because you bought an orchid that was forced into bloom by a nursery or it may be because you live in a different climate. Once you have had your orchids for over a year they will catch up to a natural cycle.

My main goal is to make this easy for you! So if you have just received an orchid and it does not match up with the cycle below… then wait. I do this all the time with newly acquired orchids. I wait for their blooms to fall off. I then repot them and watch as they match up the next year.

Note: Occasionally I have repotted orchids and sadly they have not rebloomed. There are various reasons for this. Click on my post ‘Why won’t my Orchid Bloom” to see why.

Season Guide

Summer

Most of my orchids, that I have not recently bought or received, have been out of bloom for months. At this time they are preparing for their fall spikes (which become blooms) by shedding old leaves and growing both new leaves and roots. This is their natural energy cycle and is called their “active growth phase.” Many people panic when they see their bottom orchid leaves turning yellow and falling off but there is no need to worry because this is normally natural. When their leaves turn yellow you can either cut them off or they will shed naturally and seal themselves off. If you do decide to cut them off then sprinkle some cinnamon on the cut part and use sterilized cutting tool (cinnamon is a natural fungicide).
At this time it is super hot, where I live, and I want to make sure that my orchids are not getting too dry or too hot! I regulate their heat exposure by placing them on humidity trays, sometimes misting them and making sure they are in a well ventilated area. Be especially careful of the heat if you have your orchids outside. Orchids can actually get sunburn.
  • I make sure they are properly watered.
  • I place them on humidity trays, some of which I have made on my own.
  • I sometimes mist them.
  • I make sure they get extra fertilizer.
  • I keep them in a well ventilated area.
  • I repot any newly acquired orchids as soon as they go out of bloom.
  • I am also looking for and treating pest, fungus and rot.

Fall

At this time my orchids are preparing to shoot out new spikes. Spikes are the little shoots that are often confused with roots which become the blooms we all love. Spikes look like little “mittens” at first. If you have any confusion on whether your orchid is producing a root or a spike you can click on my post “Difference between a root and spike.”

Most orchid spikes do not naturally grow up, like we see in stores, which is why we need to stake and clip them. It does not hurt an orchid to stake it. This process is done because most people think orchids look “prettier” this way and this makes it easier to place multiple orchids together, on humidity tray, because they are not crowding each other. You do not need to stake an orchid if you do not prefer.

If you store your orchids indoors, like I do, then you may have to give your orchids the “Fall Cue” by cracking a window near them for a week or two. This is because when we heat our homes orchids do not notice that it’s cold outside and don’t know that it’s time to start growing spikes/shoots.

I have prepared for this time by buying stakes and clips.

As the new spikes grow I stake and clip them with different size stakes. Click on my post on “How to stake orchid spikes” for more information on this.

  • I have cut back on my fertilizer at this time.
  • I continue to water properly, but less than the Summer because they are drying out slower.
  • I continue to have my orchids on humidity trays.
  • I sometimes mist them.
  • I repot any newly acquired orchids as soon as they go out of bloom.
  • I am also looking for and treating pest, fungus and rot.
  • I also take notes, comparing them to last year, keeping track of when I see the first spike appear.

Winter

At this time I am watching my orchids bloom with much anticipation! Most of my orchids have shot out spikes by November and have been staked. Now I am watching them grow, some of them are blooming while others are producing more and more buds. This is a really fun time!

Some orchids experience “bud blast,” which is super annoying. This is when an orchid has a bloom bud that is about to open and instead it shrivels up, turns yellow and dies! I have a post on bloom blast.

  • I continue to cut back on my fertilizer at this time.
  • I water properly, but less than I would in the Spring/Summer months because they are drying out less.
  • I have my orchids on humidity trays.
  • I sometimes mist them.
  • I repot any newly acquired orchids as soon as they go out of bloom.
  • I am also looking for and treating pest, fungus and rot.
  • I take notes on the first bloom time and how many blooms.

SPRING

At this time my orchids have begun to shed their blooms. Orchids do this naturally – the blooms will shrivel and fall off one by one. Orchids have worked hard to produce these blooms as all of their energy is going to the shoot and its blooms. Eventually, when all the blooms have fallen, you will want to cut back their shoots in order to conserve their energy.

Not only do you want to cut back their shoots but you will want to repot them in premium mix. Even the best mix breaks down over time and giving them fresh new mix will help them prepare for their new leaf and root growth. This is also a great time to look at their roots, cut off dead ones and look for any rot.

Your orchid may need to be moved to a bigger pot at this time. Orchids like to be potted snugly but they do not like to be smothered.

Once the blooms have fallen the orchids begins their “active growth phase.” This phase is when they grow new roots and leaves. Without new and healthy root and leaf growth your orchid will not bloom next year. It’s an energy cycle. It would be the same as a kid growing strong bones in preparation for a growth spurt, which is why we increase fertilization in the Spring and Summer months.

They will also shed their bottom leaves as new leaf growth appears. You have the option to let the orchid shed its leaf naturally (it will seal itself off) or cut it off.

At this time, if you want, you have the option to move your orchid outside. You just need to make sure they do not get too hot. Do not put them in full sun – orchids like dapple shade. Also if you put them outside you will need to take extra care to make sure they don’t dry out or get scorched. I do not move my orchids outside FYI.

  • I make sure they are properly watered.
  • I place them on humidity trays, some of which I have made on my own.
  • I sometimes mist them.
  • I make sure they get extra of fertilizer.
  • I repot my orchids as soon as they go out of bloom.
  • I also take notes on them to see when they drop their blooms, what their roots look like, and if I moved their pot size.
  • I am also looking for and treating pest, fungus and rot.

Hope that helps,

Hannah

Feel free to leave comments or questions here and you can always email me at myfirstorchid@gmail.com with pictures of your orchid.

Orchid 101

Orchid 101

Updated 12/10/17

So you just got a brand new orchid and you want to know what to do?

If you are new to this world, you need not be afraid. Orchids have a reputation of being really hard to grow but are actually very easy. All you need to do is take some time to learn what they need. Orchids have also been known to be expensive, however  with good care, an orchid can be in bloom for several months a year and can live indefinitely. That makes them an excellent value as far as blooming plants go.

Orchids are not like other potted plants. Orchid care is not difficult, it is just different. They are epiphytes, meaning they do not grow in dirt. Most of them grow by hanging or clinging onto the bark of trees in nature. Caring for an orchid is not hard if you have the right tools, and hopefully this site will help you to be successful! I have an extensive catalogue of useful information on orchids that you can look through, collected from all over the internet, local growers and my personal experience.

So let’s begin with your very first orchid:

  1. The first thing I do is make sure the orchid has proper water drainage. Most orchids are sold in pots without a drainage hole, producing root rot and eventually killing the orchid. (I discuss this here – READ THIS FIRST)
  2. Next, I usually wait to water it until the mix is completely dry. Most orchids are overpacked with mix and then overwatered before we get them to make sure they are still in bloom for the stores that sell them. I water my orchids as shown in this post – Watering Orchids.
  3. Then I sit back and enjoy the blooms. (Which may not last long since it has probably been in bloom for quite some time before I got it). Orchids typically bloom for a few months but store-bought ones have already been in bloom before they were shipped. These blooms naturally fall off as shown in my post –Orchid Blooms Falling off Naturally.
  4. Once the blooms fall off naturally I cut the bloom stem back as shown in my post – Cutting an Orchid Stem.
  5. I then typically repot them as shown in my post – How to Repot.

Do you have a question? I love helping people out and answering questions.

I welcome questions, but please read the other blog post first on watering, fertilizing, repotting etc. It helps both of us know what is going on a little more before you ask a question. I sometimes get people who are so excited about orchids (like me) that they ask a question before reading the other blog post; then I spend a lot of time linking those post in my answers. 🙂

When leaving a comment or emailing please answer these questions:

  • How long you have had your orchid?
  • What type of orchid it is – it’s fine if you don’t know
  • What the problem/question is.
  • How are you watering it? How much and how often?
  • Does it have a drainage hole?
  • Also a picture of your “troubled” orchid helps. If you can’t take a picture that is fine.

Hope that helps,

Hannah

Feel free to leave comments or questions here and you can always email me at myfirstorchid@gmail.com with pictures of your orchid.

Orchids sold from “big box” stores

Updated 12/10/17


Many times when we get orchids into our homes they were mistreated before we got them. Mass production of orchids in green houses forces them into bloom (which in itself does not hurt orchids) and then they are shipped to stores. The shipping process can be taxing to orchids and then they are placed in grocery stores etc. that tend to over or underwater them and most provide zero natural light.

And A LOT of places sell orchids in pots with no drainage holes (as shown above) which exacerbates all the problems stated above because the roots are basically trapped in water and begin to rot (even though the blooms may look beautiful at the time).

Then we get them they begin to suffer and we think we have hurt an orchid when actually it was all the stuff that happened to it before we got it. It’s very frustrating but not our faults at all.

I recommend repotting or “drop potting” orchids like this as soon as you can after you get them. I like to wait till the blooms have fallen and then repot. I also do not water them at all in between the time I get them and repot them because they normally have water trapped in their pots. Please read my post titled, “READ THIS FIRST” as it explains what to do if an orchid is sold to you with a non draining pot.

Hope that Helps,

Hannah

Best Orchid Supplies

What is the best orchid supply website?

updated 2/27/17

This is my favorite orchid supply website. I absolutely love rePotme!!

These are my MUST HAVE products from them;

1. Feed Me fertilizer

2. Wash Me leaf wash

3. Get Off Me for the nasty pest

4. Physan 20 for fungus/rot

6. Oxygen Core Dual Clear Pots my favorite orchid pots!

7. Their orchid mixes

They just built a new place in Delaware. Here is a picture and description of their Eco friendly building.

20120127-200605.jpg

photo copyrighted by rePotme.com from this page

This is the statement they released on their new Headquarters… “We are pleased to let all of our terrific customers know that we are now shipping from our new headquarters in Georgetown Delaware. We are located approximately 20 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. We thought you would like to see where your orders ship from and learn a bit about our construction project.

As we grew over the years, we needed more space to continue offering our products to an expanding universe of customers. A few years ago we purchased this 20 acre farm and began planning the construction of the new rePotme. We knew we had to keep a continued focus on rapidly filling orders with the finest products while being able to carry more products for all sorts of orchids, bonsai, african violets and the wide variety of other plants our customers have. The building itself is over 12,000 square feet and allows us to move great quantities of material and products in and out at the same time. This is critical to our operation because we have large trucks bringing in supplies daily even as your orders are heading out to domestic and international destinations.

Our internet presence is powered by wind turbines while our heating and air conditioning is delivered by geothermal energy. Electricity for our operations comes from a co-operative. All rainwater collected from the roof is directed into into two ponds that are regularly visited by a wide variety of birds including recently sighted eagles and a blue heron! The farm is primarily meadow lands graced by a 100 year old barn. By coincidence, our street name is Paradise Road and this wonderful rural farmland is appropriately named. When we are not filling your orders, we take in all that mother nature has created around us.”

Hope that Helps,

Hannah

 

Orchid Leaves: Cleaning

How do I clean my orchid leaves?

Updated 12/11/17

IMG_1468Washing your orchid leaves, with a gentle cleaning solution, will make them very happy!

Orchid leaves need a healthy surface to absorb moisture and to allow them to breathe. Cleaning your orchid leaves removes residue build up such as; hard water residue, fertilizer residue, dust, dirt, mildew, mold and restores their natural luster. Plus it helps to combat and prevent bugs especially scales.

Find one that is safe for your house if you have kids and/or pets. I use Wash ME! Natural Leaf Cleaner from www.rePotme.com, which is safe. It has a fresh citrus aroma. It is “Made with 100% pure RO water, organic natural castile soap, and a pinch of citric acid for old-fashioned careful gentle cleaning without chemicals.”

You can use any safe orchid specific cleaner or make your own. Use one drop of dish soap to whole spray bottle of water. Also neem oil works great.

How to clean your orchid leaves;

  1. You simply spray it on.
  2. Then you wipe it off with a paper towel. Use a fresh paper towel with each orchid so you don’t spread any bugs or disease.
  3. Don’t forget to clean the bottom of the leaves as well. Bugs and specifically scales love to live on the bottom of orchid leaves.

IMG_1473

It is so easy and your leaves will be crisp, green and clean!!

Other leaf post;

Hope that helps,

Hannah

Feel free to leave comments or questions here and you can always email me at myfirstorchid@gmail.com with pictures of your orchid.

Orchid Leaves: All GONE!!

Help! All my orchid leaves have fallen off?

updated 12/11/17

If you have a Phalaenopsis orchid (which is one of the most common orchids) otherwise known as a “Moth” orchid or a “Phal” and ALL of the leaves have fallen off then there is not a lot that can be done. I know this is heartbreaking, from personal experience, because the above orchid is mine and I had taken very good care of it.
You see with the absence of leaves the plant can not manufacture food thus breaking down the orchids growth cycle. Orchids work in cycle between growing new leaves and new roots to new blooms. And without it having current leaves a new leaf cannot grow because leaves grow from the middle of existing leaves. Without leaves it can not produce new leaves, new roots and thus new blooms. The whole cycle breaks down.
In most cases this would be caused crown/root rot because of how it was watered. You would know for sure if it was crown/root rot by looking at the condition of the roots. If the roots are soggy/mushy and brown/black then you would know that it has succumb to root rot.
I always ask the following questions when I see this happen and I provide the suggested post below…
  1. Was it potted in a pot without a drainage hole? Please click on the post “READ THIS FIRST.
  2. How was it watered? How much and how often? Please click on my post “How To Water an Orchid.”
If neither of the above questions are an issue (like mine) then I say the following (which is what happened with mine):
Many times when we get orchids into our homes they were mistreated before we got them. Mass production of orchids in green houses forces them into bloom (which in itself does not hurt orchids) and then they are shipped to stores. The shipping process can be taxing to orchids and then they are placed in grocery stores etc. that can over or underwater them and most times give them zero natural light.
And A LOT of places sell orchids in pots with no drainage which exacerbates all the problems stated above because the roots are basically trapped in water and begin to rot (even though the blooms may look beautiful at the time).
Then we get them, they begin to suffer and we think we have hurt an orchid when actually it was all the stuff that happened to it before we got it. It’s very frustrating but not our faults at all.
Hope that Helps,
Hannah
Feel free to leave comments or questions here and you can always email me at myfirstorchid@gmail.com with pictures of your orchid.

Orchid Leaves: Turning Yellow

Why are my orchid leaves turning yellow?
Updated 12/11/17
If your bottom orchid leaf has turned yellow it does not necessarily mean your orchid is sick or dying. You can not prevent your bottom orchid leaves from ultimately turning yellow because this is the natural cycle of an orchid.
You see orchids work in balance between new leaves, new roots and blooms. In order for blooms to appear in the winter and spring, new leaves and new roots need to grow in the summer and fall. Older leaves, over time, will die back naturally as will new leaves appear (shown below). This new growth provides the orchid with the energy for the next bloom.
So when your bottom orchid leaves turn yellow and fall off this can be a good sign. It means your orchid is following natures cues and preparing for new growth.
img_0974

Okay so what to do with the yellow orchid leafs?

1. Do nothing and wait. The orchid will eventually shed the leaf itself and seal off the area that it fell from.

2. Cut it off. Use a clean tool to avoid the possible spread of disease. Apply cinnamon (yes, the common household spice – it’s a natural fungicide) to the area you just cut as a preventative measure against any possible infection that may try to set in.

When to actually worry –

  • If your orchid drops many leaves very suddenly.
  • If they are dropping from the top of an orchid as shown below and/or you see dark slimy spots.
  • Click on my post on “Orchid Health: Fungus” and “Orchid Health: Rot.

Hope that Helps,

Hannah

Feel free to leave comments or questions here and you can always email me at myfirstorchid@gmail.com with pictures of your orchid.