Tips for Newbie Growers?

gwtamaraOctober 25, 2010

Our producers are pulling together a how-to guide on 'Orchids 101' and would love to have your input. Everyone loves these beautiful flowers, but they can be tricky to grow. We were all new once -- if you could share one or two of your best tips, what would they be? Your comments may be featured in an upcoming slideshow.

Any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me via my profile page.


Tamara Amey

GardenWeb Community Manager

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One thing that many new growers do is that they overwater their orchids. This causes the roots to die and as a result, the plant dies. Orchids should not sit in water, and should have open, airy media that allow the roots to breathe. Lastly, orchids should be watered only when the media is dry enough. Specific orchids may require slightly different care, but these guidelines are good for the orchids that new growers encounter.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 2:20AM
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richardol(Santa Royale CA)

Water in the morning. Plants are more vulnerable when they are still wet when the temperature drops at night. Kind of like horses.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 11:12AM
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Make sure you provide the proper light. Most newcomers do not provide enough light and can't get the plant to flower. The biggest problems I see are over-watered and underlit plants. Understand the background of the orchid. Many grow attached to trees and must have air around their roots. Some grow attached to rock in dry, arid areas. Some grow on the ground.

Visiting this forum with a picture or tag will help get newcomers on their way to success. Anyone can grow and bloom an orchid. They are not that difficult.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 12:32PM
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orchid126(z6, NJ)

I agree with Jane. Get the light right and everything else will fall into place.

Research the needs of your particular orchid, and water accordingly.

And grow outdoors if at all possible in the nice weather.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 3:28PM
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Also don't try to grow orchids in potting soil, unless you have a special terrestial variety.

And don't overpot your orchid. Find a pot that accomodates the size of the rootball, not the size of the leafspan.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 5:03PM
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stitzelweller(Md) the humble words of howard_a nyc,



    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 6:28PM
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richardol(Santa Royale CA)

Pick up each plant at least once every two weeks and look at it closely. If it needs attention do it now. If there are bugs, assume that all the neighboring plants have them too even if you can't see any.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 8:50PM
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albertan(Florida (10))

The smartest thing is to look up your local orchid society and attend their next meeting . Join the society to learn all about orchids and their care in your local area. You will love the comraderie of old and new orchid lovers and begin a very rewarding hobby.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 1:36AM
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slippersleuth(z6 PA)

This is the best consolidated info available from Napa Valley orchids: Ten Rules of Thumb for Basic Orchid Care
1 When in doubt, go drought

2. Whatever you do, do it before noon

3. Good air movement and light are just as important as water and fertilizer

4. Misting can result in more problems than benefits

5. Water once a week, mark it in your calendar, more in summer, less in winter

6. Fertilze weakly, weekly

7. Use temperate tap water. Do not use softened water. Flush monthly

8. If leaf is warm to the touch, it is too much light

9. Sun changes seasonally, arrange your plants accordingly

  1. Become an inspector. Bi-weekly observation is key

Be patient. Remember that an orchid expert is one who has killed a thousand orchids.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 6:37AM
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I'm new but this is from my own experience and hope it can contribute a little something :)

When buying a new plant, don't get too focused on just the blooming flowers. Look at the leaves, the visible roots and the overall health of the plant too.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 2:01PM
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Flowers last only so long. If the flowers of a specific plant are to last 4 weeks and you buy one in full bloom it may fade in one week if they have been open for 3 weeks already. Always choose a blooming plant with one or 2 unopened buds as then you know the flowers will last their full span.

Agree that flowers are much less important than size, roots, vigor and general health of the plant.


    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 5:39PM
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richardol(Santa Royale CA)

Sometimes you find a plant in bloom with only two pseudobulbs. That plant was usually divided just before selling and is weak. Buy plants with at least three pseudobulbs.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 9:31PM
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There are nuances to this. Vendors will boast of a monster plant with 8 pbulbs. Obviously a great chance for flowers. What this actually means is that there are probably 2 plants squeezed into that pot or that the plant, if it is only one, is a very slow bloomer. Cattleyas should bloom around the 5th bulb. Eventually you'll get the hang of it.


    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 1:13AM
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