Fall Orchid Care

Fall is the time of the year to get your orchids ready for spectacular blooms over the winter months and even into early spring.  With these few simple tricks, you should be able to bring your orchid into bloom.

  1. Has your orchid been re-potted in the last two years?
  2. Have you been fertilizing your orchid? You will want to
  3. Is your orchid getting a temperature differential between night and day of 10-20 degrees?

Read below for tips and tricks on how to get those orchids blooming!

Phalaenopsis Orchids (Moth Orchid) – If you have not re-potted your Phalaenopsis in the last two years, now is the perfect time (as long as it is not already in bloom). If you have old bloom spikes holding onto the plant that aren’t doing much of anything, then go ahead and cut them off and re-pot your orchid. You will have a much better chance of it setting new bloom spikes if the old ones are removed. Also, don’t forget to fertilize your orchid. I recommend something with Nitrate as a nitrogen source such applied every two weeks. This is very important to encourage good healthy growth and blooms.

One of the most frequent questions I get is, ‘Why will my Phalaenopsis not bloom again?’ Many people do not realize that Phalaenopsis need to have a temperature differential between night and day of 10-20 degrees to set their bloom spikes. This should be happening anytime now through early spring when the night temperatures start to naturally drop and give us a temperature difference between night and day. If you are keeping your orchid inside, then chances are that it is not getting this temperature difference between night and day because we usually keep our homes a constant temperature. You can trick it to set a bloom spike by allowing it to receive this temperature difference in several ways. One way is to set it outside in October being careful to place it in a very shady location where it will never receive any direct sun during the day. You will need to increase the watering to it a bit, due to it being outside rather than inside. I usually water mine every one to two days outside, and never let it sit in water. Watch the night temperatures and make sure it does not get below 45 degrees. After a few weeks, you should see the bloom spikes start to initiate and then you can return it to its usual home and allow it to continue developing flowers inside. Sometimes a cooler room in the house, a garage, an unheated greenhouse, or even a window sill can achieve the proper temperature difference from night and day in order to set bloom spikes.

Be careful to not rotate your plant when in spike or the flowers will all open in different directions. The flowers develop in relation to sun so if you constantly turn your plant or move it and not put it back in the same orientation, it will have flowers that don’t line up like little soldiers. I like to put the tags in my plant facing a certain direction (such as North, etc.) so that I know how it was oriented in case I need to move it to water, clean, etc. Once your bloom spikes have started to get puffy buds, you can stake it straight and enjoy the flowers for months to come!

Paphiopledilum (Lady Slipper Orchids) – The lady slippers should be starting to set their bloom sheaths over the next few months. These can be confused for a small leaf at first, but then you will see that it more closely resembles a rounded tongue sticking out of the top of the plant. It is very important that you do not get water in the crown of the plant or expose it to excessive climate changes during its development or it will turn black and abort the flower. Over time the spike will push out of the top of the plant and slowly develop the flower. Don’t stake the flower until it is starting to fully open. Be sure to fertilize every two weeks with Orchid Pro fertilizer during this time of year to encourage larger blooms.

Cattleya– Cattleya’s should already be in sheath if they are going to bloom. If you have a plant that has recently bloomed, you can re-pot and/or divide it once you see some new growth starting to emerge at the base of the oldest growth. Be sure to keep 2 to 3 mature growths per division for best establishment. I am here to help if you have any questions.