The orchid that I promised not to kill is still going strong! After the flowers wilted, theres a technique to getting the existing spike to produce more flowers. I’ve read that doing this may make the next bloom have less total flowers on the next round, but the result is a quicker time to the next bloom. So it has its tradeoffs. If you are ok with the tradeoff, what you do is cut the spike just after one of the joints. Then, use cinnamon powder after cutting to prevent any bacteria growth. It took a few weeks after cutting the spike before this came out.
I can’t wait for them to bloom again. 🙂 If the spike had turned brown instead of staying green, at that point I would have had to cut the spike all the way back (about 1 inch from the base of the plant) because it would no longer bloom from that spike. It would have to grow a new one to bloom again.
For Valentine’s day it seems to be a tradition for my husband to give me an Orchid, which I secretly hope for every year. So I have a new addition to the family!
I bought a new Orchid that I will not kill! (hopefully…)
To sum up, to take care of the basic Phalaenopsis (aka Moth) orchids, do the following:
- The best way to water is to submerge the whole root base into water for a little bit, then take it out, about once a week. The roots should never stay entirely wet. (Unless it’s packed in moss… then water a LOT LESS FREQUENTLY)
- After the first blooms start to fall, to get it to branch off and bloom again, cut the spike (the part with the flowers) just past a node (joint looking part on the spike) and seal it with cinnamon; it will kill bacteria.
- After the blooms fall and the spike turns brown, cut the spike down near the base. This is a good time to repot. Be sure to check the roots for any problems (bugs, root rot, disease).
- Use Orchid specific fertilizer once a month.
My poor, poor orchids. My husband bought me my first orchid for Valentine’s Day 2010:
Then he bought me a second one Valentine’s Day 2011:
Orchids aren’t super difficult to take care of, but I managed to kill them both.
I killed the 2011 one first about 4 months ago. It was tightly packed into the pot with Sphagnum moss when I got it. I didn’t realize how different watering an orchid in moss would be compared to what my first one was, which was in bark. The biggest indicator I didn’t know about until too late was that a new leaf was growing, but it was curling and stunted and not at all like the other leaves. This meant that the plant was in distress and that I should check the roots. So I took it out to check it. Root rot. Everywhere. The moss had held in so much moisture that it rotted out 95% of the roots. I cut off everything that I could but that only left 2 small roots. I figured it was lost, but I repotted it in the bark media and continued to water the small roots. After a few months, I gave up and called it a lost cause.
Then, just last month, I gave up on the 2010 one as well. Before that, I had succeeded to get it to rebloom after the first bloom, then had an entire new small spike last year! I was happy that at least this one had survived. This one was an “Ice Orchid,” which is really just Phalaenopsis orchid where they advertise a more user friendly way of watering (granted it does work pretty well). However, I was bit timid about watering and changed the way I watered because of the fiasco with the other one. I have a cute little plant mister that I was using to water it and it seemed to do ok for a while. What I didn’t realize was that the mister was not getting the water down to the lower level of the roots. At some point I had done the research and I helped my mother-in-law revive her orchids. I don’t really remember telling her that one of the best ways to water an orchid properly was to submerge the entire pot into water, then let it drain, once a week. When I told her that I had been improperly watering them, she told me what I had told her. Oops… How did I forget that? I could have saved them. 🙁
But, this will not be the end of my Orchid adventure! Armed with my knowledge from my failures, I have my eye on some mini orchids!