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  • Writer's pictureHorticultural Society

A Green Thumb Guide: Pruning and Caring for Orchids at Home

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

As members of the Preston, Elmstone & Stourmouth Horticultural Society, we appreciate the unique beauty of orchids, one of nature's most exquisite blossoms.

This guide will provide you with essential tips on pruning and caring for orchids in your home.

Indoor Plant Expert & Lecturer Crystal Evans inspects her orchids

Orchids, contrary to popular belief, aren't as delicate as they appear. However, proper care can enhance their longevity and bloom period. Pruning, an essential part of this care, should be done with sharp, sterilized tools to avoid disease transmission.

Start the pruning process after your orchid has finished blooming, usually when the flower stalk turns yellow or brown. Cut the stalk about one inch above the node where it originates from the base. This stimulates new growth and encourages re-blooming.

General care

Remember that orchids thrive in bright, indirect sunlight. An east-facing windowsill is often an ideal location. Keep them away from direct sunlight to prevent leaf burn.

Watering orchids requires a "less is more" approach. Overwatering is a common cause of orchid death, so allow the potting mix to dry between watering. A rule of thumb is to water once a week in the winter and twice a week in the summer.

Humidity is another crucial factor for the well-being of your orchid. They thrive in a humidity level of about 60-70%. Use a humidity tray or indoor humidifier, or group plants together to maintain the required humidity.

Regular feeding is necessary for your orchid's health. Use a balanced orchid fertilizer (20-20-20) every other week during the growth period.

With attentive care, your orchid's roots will provide a strong foundation for a flourishing plant.

Managing the root system is just as crucial for orchid care as maintaining the blooms. Typically, orchid roots grow outside the pot (these are known as aerial roots), which is natural and not a sign of distress. However, if roots become excessively dry, brown, or mushy, they may need pruning.

When pruning orchid roots, proceed with caution and precision. Ensure your pruning tool is sharp and sterilized to avoid spreading diseases. Gently remove the orchid from its pot and inspect the roots. Healthy roots usually have a firm, green or white appearance. Any roots that are mushy, brown, or visibly rotten should be pruned. Carefully cut away these unhealthy roots without disturbing the healthy ones. This pruning helps direct the plant’s energy to the healthy roots, enabling better absorption of nutrients and water.

Remember, less is often more with orchids; only prune roots that are clearly unhealthy. After pruning, repot the orchid in a suitable orchid potting mix, providing ample room for new root growth.

A suitable orchid potting mix typically contains a blend of bark, peat, moss, perlite, and charcoal. This type of mix offers the excellent drainage, air circulation, and moisture retention that orchids require for healthy root and overall plant growth. For specific orchid varieties, such as Phalaenopsis, a bark-based mix is often recommended. Always ensure to choose a mix that suits the specific needs of your orchid variety.

With these tips in mind, you're on your way to nurturing thriving orchids at home. Remember, every orchid is unique, and your loving attention is the key to unlocking its bloom.

Happy Gardening!

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