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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hope that helps,
Feel free to leave comments or questions here and you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with pictures of your orchid.