fertilizing orchids

rose57-2010August 4, 2010

Do I fertilize my orchids after they have bloomed ? It has been a while since I have had any orchids and just purchased two in Key west when I was vacationing there.

Thank you in advance for your info.

Becky

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andrew6484

Hi Becky, welcome back to the orchid world!
I'd say wait until you see new growth, but it depends on the orchid. If you really want to fertilize and see no new growth, a light shot of higher N should be no problem and may start that next growth.

Andrew

    Bookmark   August 5, 2010 at 8:24AM
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orchid126(z6, NJ)

There's no reason not to fertiize if you do it weakly weekly, especially if they're phals. Nobile dendrobiums and some other types are a different story.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2010 at 4:18PM
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gardenbear1(6 Ma.)

I now have 3 Phalaenopsis off the death table at Lowes after watered them, they started to look better and I want to keep them happy so what brand of fert.or what should the numbers be?. Lowes had Orchid bloom booster but I didn't think its what I should use, I know better than to ask any one for help there because it won't happen,so I come to you fine people for help

Thanks for all and any help
Bear

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 10:19PM
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richardol(Santa Royale CA)

Miracle-Gro is a good general fertilizer. It was originally for orchids but at the time there were not enough people growing orchids to market to.

Any low, even-numbered fert will do fine for Phal hybrids.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 9:29AM
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gardenbear1(6 Ma.)

richardol, thanks for getting to me on this question, its nice to know that I can use Miracle-Grow, I use it on my other house plants so no need to buy more fert

Bear

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 9:37AM
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orchid126(z6, NJ)

If you have Miracle Grow for tomatoes, that's good for orchids, too.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 4:05PM
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stitzelweller(Md)

orchid126,
I v-a-g-u-e-l-y recall a related thread on this very Forum!
One of the advantages of having old far$s with at least half a brain .

Check out the link, below....

--Stitz--

Here is a link that might be useful: tomato fertilzer and orchids

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 4:34PM
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penfold2(4b, MN)

Orchids have some special fertilizer needs due primarily to the soil (or lack thereof) they are grown in. Most orchid soils are extremely porous which means they are not limed (i.e. don't supply calcium and magnesium), and do not support good bacterial growth (i.e. cannot convert urea into available nitrogen). This means that an orchid fertilizer should supply both calcium and magnesium, and have most of its nitrogen in nitrate form which is immediately available to roots. Luckily, these three traits usually go hand in hand since calcium and magnesium require a fairly specific ratio, and calcium nitrate is the only water soluble form of calcium.

To summarize, look for something with calcium, magnesium, and nitrate rather than urea.

As for N-P-K, I always use something near a 3:1:2 ratio since that is what nearly all plants have been shown to absorb.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 6:48PM
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stitzelweller(Md)

penfold2 4a, MN wrote,

" As for N-P-K, I always use something near a 3:1:2 ratio since that is what nearly all plants have been shown to absorb. "

A respected grower of epiphytic plants in Hawaii chooses to disagree with the ratio that you quote. Her ratio is 1: 1.5 : 2 , N:P:K.

While I don't choose to use that ratio for most of my orchids, I also respect her knowledge.

Something to think about, eh?

--Stitz--

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 7:16PM
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penfold2(4b, MN)

Something to think about, eh?

I'll admit, I've never seen ratios specific to epiphytes, so I just go by what I've read regarding terrestrials. I'll have to look into it more if the N-P-K ratio for epiphytes is substantially different.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 7:50PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

The no Urea thing always surfaces on these posts and that is fine provided that people realise that the fertilizer manufacturer is trying to cater for orchid growers from Florida to Alaska, in other words all sorts of orchids, growing in all sorts of conditions, watered with water that will be of all sorts of quality.

So you get the three sources of Nitrogen in an orchid fertilizer.

Do not worry about it. Unless you are growing "fussy" orchids or have an enormous collection of mostly one Genera or you have an orchid nursery OR you are a tecko and love fiddling around with this sort of stuff.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 8:33PM
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stitzelweller(Md)

" Do not worry about it. Unless you are growing "fussy" orchids or have an enormous collection of mostly one Genera or you have an orchid nursery OR you are a tecko and love fiddling around with this sort of stuff. "

arthrum, YES! I grow a few "fussy" orchids!
I have a collection which includes a very few genera.
I AM a "tecko".
I LOVE to fiddle!

Must all orchidists follow a "path"?
If so, you might choose to cancel the Pleurothallid bunch!

The Pleurothallidiots are among the best $$$ supporters of the AOS!

--Stitz--

ps - I have ONE Pleurothallid (I think!) . It depends on how the plant is classified!! ooops!!!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 9:50PM
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penfold2(4b, MN)

The no Urea thing always surfaces on these posts... Do not worry about it.

I stand corrected. While the use of some nitrate may be beneficial to plants, orchids are also capable of absorbing urea and converting it to ammonium which they can directly metabolize.

Nitrogen in fertilizers and the truth about Urea

(I would still look for calcium and magnesium in any orchid fertilizer.)

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 10:05PM
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orchid126(z6, NJ)

Stitz, I agree with you about the high nitrogen. That is old thinking. I copied this a few years ago from a culture sheet from a grower in Hawaii. I have followed this advice and find it to be sound:

FERTILIZER TIPS FROM HAWAII:
Our own experience, through trial and error, has proven that equal number fertilizers (ie: 10-10-10, 14-14-14, etc.) that are commonly used in the greenhouse environment, provide poor results for the home orchid grower. The relationship between sunlight and nitrogen is key to orchid blooming success. One needs to keep in mind that the available light on the windowsill or under lights is nowhere in comparison to the optimum light received in the greenhouse environment, and it is impossible for orchid plants to break down the amounts of nitrogen in order to produce blooms. There is an easy solution to this dilemma! By using a low nitrogen formulation of "Blossom Booster" fertilizers with low first numbers, the plant is allowed sufficient nitrogen for healthy growth while allowing it to reach its flowering stage. Ignore the package labeling and use the following in your regular orchid care regime.

Use a BLOSSOM BOOSTER fertilizer (ie. 10-30-20) at 1/4 tsp. per gallon of water every week, along with SuperthriveÂ. (Weak applications allow the plant to absorb the nutrients far better than heavy monthly applications.) DO NOT USE ANY HIGH NITROGEN FERTILIZERS AT ANY TIME, by doing so you will have large green plants with very few or no flowers (bark does not leach out nitrogen
I am not sure about the Superthrive but I will increase the times I water with the blossom Booster, fertilizer he said when you are growing your orchids outside they get all the light they need, and using the msu fertilizer at that time is very good for it has all the nutrients added in it.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 2:37PM
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vtandrea

Hmmm....interesting thread. I'm now in my 3rd year of growing orchids and use both bloom booster formula and high nitrogen. Having studied website information on various types of orchids, I've been using high nitrogen almost exclusively on my cattleyas and members of the oncidium family. Most of them have spiked this summer. Maybe being outdoors has been a factor. I tend to use the bloom booster only when I think it's time for the plant to give me flowers. I realize I'm still a newbie and defer to the experienced ones contributing to this topic.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 5:54PM
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penfold2(4b, MN)

I can see a more moderate nitrogen level being of possible benefit to orchids, but I don't see any justification for high phosphorus "bloom booster" formulas. Here is an article that mentions orchid tissue composition.

Care & Feeding of Orchids

And the data:

TYPICAL COMPOSITION OF DRY ORCHID TISSUE BY PERCENTÂ

Nitrogen

Phosphate

Potassium

Calcium

Magnesium

Iron Leaves

1.8

0.2

4.2

1.3

0.5

0.01 Roots

2.0

0.3

2.2

0.8

0.8

0.04

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 7:32PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

As i said in my post above there are just too many variables to say that this or that orchid fertilizer is the ants pants for every condition or every type of orchid.

I've always thought that the magic words "bloom booster" were invented by the marketing people employed to sell more fertilizer.

So, as an example in my large mixed Genera mess of a collection there is something in bloom every month of the year. I do not put "bloom booster" on some and a different fertilizer on others.

Being a non tecko simple person i just fertilize them more in the warmer months and less in the cooler months. If you like fiddling about, you should run "trials" to see and prove which fertilizer is best under your conditions. Otherwise any improved results are just heresay.

For what its worth the Champion Orchid Grower at the local orchid society uses a fertilizer with a low Nitrogen number all year.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 8:33PM
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stitzelweller(Md)

arthur, we are in agreement with your statement, " there are just too many variables to say that this or that orchid fertilizer is the ants pants for every condition or every type of orchid. "

--Stitz--

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 6:34AM
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