READ THIS FIRST!! Does your orchid have drainage?

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

Upated 2/22/17

It has 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 at my windowsill at home.” We snatch the orchid up and bring it home and to our shock and sadness it only blooms for a short while and then the leaves start to either turn yellow or wrinkle up. And we toss it. “Orchids are so hard to grow,” we think.

What we failed to realize (because most of us are novices) is that this beautiful orchid was planted in a pot without a drainage hole. 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 can really begin to 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 (check out my favorite pots on my post on Clear Plastic Pots).

So what can you do?

My answer may sound confusing because every website says to wait to repot orchids till after their blooms have fallen but NOT in this case because they need to escape this environment. Repotting orchids in bloom can cause the blooms to prematurely fall off because it shocks the orchid. 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 on How to Water Orchids. Eventually you can repot it (once the blooms have fallen) in a more substantial drainage pot since the majority 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 will not 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 but you may lose some blooms due to “bud blast.” This does not mean it’s dying it is just adjusting to its new home and is protecting itself by letting it 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.

 

Orchid 101

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Orchid 101

Updated 2/22/17

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

If you are new this world you need not be afraid. Orchids have a reputation of being really hard to grow but are actually very easy if you take some time to learn what they need. Orchids have also been known to be expensive but based on the fact that with good care an orchid can be in bloom for several months a year and can live indefinitely, they are 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 which means that 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 found very useful information on orchids that you can look through. I collected it 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 which produces root rot an eventually kills an orchid as shown in my post – READ THIS FIRST.
  2. Then I usually wait to water it till 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 my post –  How to Water 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 bloom typically 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 overall if you 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 and then I spend a lot of time linking those post in my answers 🙂

When leaving a comment or emailing it isn’t helpful if 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. 


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 is taxing to orchids and then they are placed in grocery stores etc. that over or underwater them and 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.

I recommend repotting 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. 

Hope that Helps,

Hannah

Best Orchid Supplies

What is the best orchid supply website?

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

6. Oxygen Core Dual Clear Pots….. Best ORCHID POTS EVER!!

7. Their orchid mixes …. Feel free to ask me which will work the best with your orchids.

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

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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.”

Buy from them!!

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.

Taking Orchid Notes

I have a total of 18 Orchids, yeah I know! Once I started this blog everyone kept giving me their orchids once they were out of bloom or if they were dying. I love these orchids and I had to create a system to keep track of them somehow. With so many orchids it is hard to remember when I last watered, fertilized and treated them. I found that taking notes on them is the easiest way stay organized.

Here is some background on my orchids. I repotted 13 of them so far. The other 5 were bought in bloom, off cycle, and I am waiting for them to loose their blooms so I can repot them. And around another 5 were bought in bloom earlier this fall, again not in their normal bloom cycle, and they were repotted but will probably wait till next fall to shoot new spikes.

5 of the 18 shot up new spikes this fall and are about to bloom! Not all my orchids re-bloomed this year, for a variety of reasons. That might not seem like very good luck but most of my orchids were in really bad shape when I got them (rescued from friends etc.), three actually died due to under watering and lack of repotting from a previous owner.

I number each of my orchids and keep track of their habits. Number 5 is my rock star! I successfully repotted it last year and it has spiked beautifully! Here is a pic of it on January 5, 2012.

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It has 15 little blooms off it, including a shoot that sprung from another node. I found this plant abandoned and because it was not in bloom, I can’t wait to see what color it’s blooms will be!

Here is an example of the notes I take on it…

5. Already bloomed orchid Last bloom unknown before Aug. 201. Repotted on Aug 17, 2011. Went up a pot size. Good condition/Healthy roots. Detected spike Sept 15, 2011. Detected new root on 9/29/11. On 10/4/11 and 10/18/11 set bigger spike on stick. 10/27/11 no new dev except spike is bigger. 11/1/11 2nd spike shot off from 1st spike/node!

I also keep track of when I water, fertilize and treat my orchids. Each orchid has a plant label that I number and then write down everything I do to it. This helps with having so many orchids because I loose track of when to fertilize etc.

FOR EXAMPLE:1/11/11 15, 16 and 17 Got the works (9 day watering difference) *2* 5 just watered (19 day watering difference) *4*

5, 15, 16, 17 are different orchids I have.

“Got the works” means I watered, fertilized, cleaned the leaves and treated my orchids.

“Just watered” means it’s the 4th time I have watered my orchid and I don’t use fertilizer (or any other product) so as to flush out the salts built up by fertilizing. Click here on my link on fertilizing for more information. 

The numbers *2* and *4* at the END of the sentence is the treatment sequence it is in…*1* = Got the Works*2* = Got the Works*3* = Got the Works*4* = Just watered

And finally, I also like to see how many watering day difference there is…which is shown in the parentheses above. I find this helpful because sometimes I can tell by moving my orchids where the dry spots in my house are or if I need to increase humidity etc.

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. 

My Rockstar Orchid #5

I have a total of 18 Orchids, which is a lot I know! But once I started this blog everyone kept giving me their dying orchids! Which I love..but I have to keep track of them somehow. With so many orchids it is hard to remember when I last watered, fertilized and treated them. I found that taking notes on them is the easiest way to stay organized.

Number 5 is my ROCK STAR! I found this Phalaenopsis orchid abandoned in a friends house and had no idea the last time it was watered or the shape it was in. Its leaves were a bit droopy and I was nervous to see its root system. Also I had no idea what color its blooms were, since it’s blooms had already fallen off.

– I repotted it on Aug 17, 2011. I went up a size in pots. It was in good condition and had healthy roots.
– I detected a spike on Sept 15, 2011 and a 2nd root on Sept. 29, 2011.
– On Oct. 4 and 8, 2011 I set a bigger stake on spike because it was growing so fast.
– On November 11, 2011 a 2nd spike shot off from 1st spike!

Here is a picture on January 5, 2012

 

It has 15 little blooms off it, including a second spike that sprung from another node. I can’t wait to see what color it’s blooms will be!

Here is a pic of it on January 10, 2012…it’s beginning to open!!

 

It looks to be white with a bit of dark pink on it…

 

Here it is on January 13, 2012 … First bloom is fully opened, it is the one in front.

 

Here it is with a few more blooms!! On January 23, 2012

 

And here it is fully bloomed!

 

 

Email me with any questions in regards to how I got this orchid to bloom. And remember that orchids DO NOT bloom for many reasons. Don’t get disheartened if your orchids fail to bloom. Just take care of them and most likely they will bloom next year!

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. 

 

 

 

 

My Orchids – updated 7/22/15

I have many orchids. I keep notes on them to stay organized. I keep them on humidity trays in a large window seat in my living room.

Here are pictures of the ones that I have the longest. This is not by any means all the orchids that cycle threw my house. I “save,” (I am given many orchids – that are done blooming and did not sell – by local florist) repot and giveaway a ton each year. So, check back because I will be updating this post, as they bloom. This post is mostly for me so I can see what my orchids look like through the years:)

1. Phalaenopsis orchid from Aldi.

2011

2012

2013/2014

2015 – bloomed 6/1/15 8 blooms

#2. Phalaenopsis orchid from Aldi.

2011

2013 – bloomed after almost three years of bring dormant!! Color changed to white – 5 big blooms

2015 – 7/19/15 – 5 white blooms
 

#3. Already bloomed orchid from Garden Heights

2013 (2/8/13) – 8 medium dark pink blooms – hasn’t bloomed since 2011

2013 (12/1/13) bloomed 2x this year – 10 medium dark pink blooms – 1 stalk with two branches!!
#4. Already bloomed orchid from SHT 1/1/11
2013 (3/5/13) – 6 big dark pink blooms – hasn’t bloomed since 2011
2013/2014 (12/21/13) bloomed 2x this year – 9 big dark pink blooms – 1 stalk with several branches!!
#5. My Rockstar Orchid!
2012 – 15 blooms!

2013 – 20 blooms!

2014 – waiting for it to bloom / it has spiked / I accidentally knocked the tip of the spike so it is taking longer

#6. Phalaenopsis orchid from Jesse for my birthday from Aldi on 10/29/11.

2011

#7. Phalaenopsis orchid from Trader Joes on 11/5/11.

2011

2013
2014
2015 – spiked 1/11/15 Bloomed 6/11/15 5 blooms

 

8. Phalaenopsis orchid bought from Trader Joe’s on 11/28/11.

Has not bloomed since 2011
#9. Phalaenopsis orchid pink/white orchid from Aldi.
2011

2012

2013 – slightly lighter this year with 7 blooms

2014 – waiting for bloom / it has spiked

2015 – spiked 1/11/15 Bloomed 5/29/15 4 blooms

#?. Phalaenopsis orchid from Trader Joes on 11/26/11. Need to look into this…

2011 thru 2012

#10. 2013 – did not bloom
#11. Twinkle Oncidium orchid bought and bloomed in 2012.
2013 1-1-13
2013 (11-11-13) bloomed 2x this year!!
#12. Phapiopedilum orchid “Lady Slipper” from Bowood Farms
2012 – bloomed but didn’t get a picture
2013
2014 – it spiked and waiting for it to open:)
2015 – 1/28/15 – changed mix
#13. Phalaenopsis for Mother’s Day from Bowood Farms – this orchid passed away:(
2013
#14. Phalaenopsis orchid for Mother’s Day from ProFlowers
2013
15. Phalaenopsis orchid from Schnucks for my bday 10/29/13.
2013
16. Cattleya “George Hausserman – Carl” from Hawaii for my bday 10/29/13

2013 – not in bloom when purchased – this orchid passed away:(

17. Blue Vanda “Prao Sky blue – Phathai” from Hawaii for my bday 10/29/13

2013 – not in bloom when purchased – potted in a vanda box that I will hang up


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. 

Keiki “Baby Orchid”

What is a keiki?

updated 2/24/17

The word keiki is Hawaiian for, “baby.” A keiki is essentially a baby orchid produced from your original “mother” plant. A keiki is going to be the same genre as the mother and will have similar color and likeness. There are two types of keikis – basal keiki an apical/ariel keiki.

  • Basal means it is located at or near the base of an orchid.
  • Apical means it grows from the apex of the bloom stem of an orchid….way up high.

As defined above keiki’s can grow in two different locations on an orchid and for two different reasons.

Locations (a keiki will grow) –

  • Apical keiki – From an existing stalk with its OWN aerial roots (shown above). These grow way up high on already existing orchid bloom stalk.

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  • Basal keiki – Along side the existing orchid, growing from its base and SHARING the same root system (shown above).

Reasons (a keiki will grow) –

  • A lot of times an orchid will “save itself” by sprouting a keiki because it is dying. This happens a lot when crown or root rot has taken hold of an orchid. Please see my post on Orchid Health: Rot.
  • A dormant node on an orchid “decides” to sprout a new keiki in an otherwise completely healthy orchid. This happens when there is a build up of growth hormones.

What should you do with a keiki?

You will want to do two different things depending on where the keiki is located.

A. Apical keiki – If it is sprouting from an existing bloom stem, way up high (as shown in the first example – under locations) with its own aerial roots you will want to the following;

  1. Wait till it has at least two or three good size roots.
  2. Snip it off about 1 or 2 inches down the bloom stalk being careful to not clip the small keiki roots.
  3. Repot it either NEXT to the existing mother plant for the first year (if it is time to repot the mother then repot both at the same time, in the same pot). After the first year you may place it in its own little pot. We do this because it’s the same genre and it helps to keep it in the same mix it grew to regulate humidity, watering and fertilization. Or if the mother is suffering you would want to repot the keiki in a fresh new pot and most likely discard the mother.
  4. When potting it you will want to push the roots downward with the small shoot that you have cut off. Roots are sometimes not malleable unless wet. If this is the case then I would recommend soaking them in water before doing this.

It may take months before an Ariel keiki is ready to be cut off below is an example.

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Note: you can keep the keiki on the existing mother plant and it will bloom but it may look a bit sloppy because it’s dangling in the air. I would only suggest doing this if the mother plant is healthy and you dont mind the look.

B. Basal keiki – If it is sprouting from the root base, along side an existing orchid (as shown in the second example – under location), you will want to do the following;

This case is very different from the above one because the keiki is SHARING the root system of the mother (it does not have one of its own) and therefore CANNOT be separated! In this case you will want to leave it alone. These keiki’s tend to grow really fast because they are sharing the large, already existing and established, root system of the mother.

In the case of a basal keiki growing because the mother plant is dying, again you do nothing. The mother plant will die back/fade away and the basal keiki will replace it. How cool is that?!

In the case of a basal keiki growing because there was a build up of growth hormones on a healthy orchid, again do nothing. The mother and baby will grow side by side and create an even bigger orchid.

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.

Paphiopedilum Orchids

Paphiopedilum orchids are best known as their pseudonym, “The Lady Slipper.” They are really, really cool and unique as far as orchids go because they have one BIG bloom instead of a bunch of small to medium blooms.

The Lady Slipper is a monopodial orchid meaning it does not have a pseudobulb, like the common Phalaenopsis orchid. Monopodial orchids need to be watered more frequently because without a pseudobulb they do not have a water reserve. I treat my Lady Slipper the way I treat my Phalaenopsis orchids in that I wait for their mix to get dry and then water them. Click on my post on How to Water for more information.

Lady Slippers also need special mix, which I get from rePotme, that helps them keep moist between watering. I also like to fertilize them in the same way I fertilize my other orchids.

  • Spring – production of late blooming and repot when out of bloom
  • Summer – production of new root and leaf growth
  • Fall – production of new root and leaf growth/potential of new spike
  • Winter – production of new spikes and blooms

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. 

Dendrobium Orchids

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Dendrobiums are tall with elongated pseudobulbs (stems) topped by modest sized leaves. Their shoots look like bamboo canes and should not be cut back because even after the leaves fall from the oldest pseudobulbs they continue to provide sustenance to the plant. You should only cut them back, if they are shriveled.

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Dendrobiums like to grow in a very small pot, often the pot looks ridiculously small compared to the height of the plant. This presents some problems because they tend to be top-heavy. You can keep them from tipping over by placing them in clay pots. You can also use broken brick, cobblestone or pea gravel in the bottom of the pot to weigh it down. Precise staking of Dendrobiums to make them well-balanced is also critical. I used twist ties and tied them up around a sturdy stake.

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These orchids grow quickly throughout summer and normally take a rest during winter. Dormant buds erupt into shoots from the base of the pseudobulb usually in spring. They should be repotted after blooming and sadly they often resent repotting and in extreme cases can be killed if repotted at the wrong time. Dendrobiums prefer to be repotted only as new growth appears.

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These orchids are easy to grown indoors but need more light (they need to be in a bright window in your home) then the popular, Phalaenopsis.

Here’s a picture of my Dendrobium that bloomed in January 2012.

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Dendrobium Basics

  • Blooms: Winter thru Spring
  • Water: Water thoroughly then allow to dry out briefly between waterings.
  • Light: These orchids like bright light. You can place them near a bright window
  • Temperature: they like a minimum temp of 60 degrees and a maximum of 95
  • Fertilize: I use FEED me
  • New pseudobulbs in the Spring and Summer, rest in the Fall/Winter and Spikes following rest.
  • Natural Cues: Like other orchids they take their bloom cue from the shortening day length in the Fall
  • Repotting: should take place usually every two years, sooner if they are trying to grow outside of their pot.
  • Potting Mixes: I use Dendrobium Imperial Orchid Mix from rePotme.

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.