Orchids - Putting stigmas to rest

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I know why you’re here. You either are weighing the idea of getting an orchid, your orchid is hanging on for dear life, or you just killed your orchid. Not to fret - I’m here to help!

I think orchids are definitely among the top plants that people fear to bring into their homes. There is a weird stigma about them, but I want to lay this to rest, because they’re just not true!

Orchids are beautiful plants and they teach you so much about plant care as well along with an important life lesson… a little something called “patience”.

There are a lot of orchids out there and I have two different types myself, but the most popular and easiest to find is the Phalaenopsis orchid or better known as the “Moth orchid”. I have three moth orchids in our home ranging from our oldest which is 4 years old to our youngest which is a little over 1 year old.

So how do you care for these gorgeous specimens?

LOCATION

First, you will want to find an awesome spot with plenty of light. All of my Moth orchids sit right on our windowsill which gets moderate light throughout the day. Word of caution - I do not recommend moving them around a lot. Once you find a good spot leave them there and let your moth orchids get acquainted with their new home. Plants adore structured lives and do not fare well with drastic changes to their environments.

WATERING

For watering you will want to water once per week. I recommend sticking to an all-plant watering day schedule. For our home we water all of our plants every Friday evening (desert plants will get watered every other Friday since they do not need tons of water). Once you have your scheduled day stick to it! As noted before plants love structured lives and at the end of the day more structure for your plants will also in return give structure to your life too - that’s a win-win!

FLOWER CARE

So what happens when the flowers begin to die? Don’t worry! Your moth orchid flowers will definitely die. That’s life, but don’t worry more blooms will be on their way soon. Once blooms change color and begin to shrivel they will drop or you can carefully pluck the flower off by gently pushing back on the flower stem. After all blooms are finished you can trim the spike (stem) down completely. To do so you will cut the stem down to the very base. This will help your Moth orchids regain energy to eventually create another spike (stem) and then bloom more flowers!

It’s important to note that at times your Moth orchid may not have any spikes (stems) & blooms at all. Do not fret. This is where the Moth orchid teaches you patience! So have some. A new spike (stem) will begin to peak out from the base eventually so keep an eye out and stick to your watering day schedule and do not move your Moth orchid around out of panic.

FERTILIZE

After all blooms have fallen and you’ve cut any bare spike (stem) down completely you will want to fertilize your Moth orchid. To do so you will want to order some orchid fertilizer. Brands can vary, but Miracle Gro Orchid Food is widely available for all to purchase. Follow the instructions and do so going forward after future spikes (stems) are cut down.

ROOTS

What’s up with these roots? Should I cut them down? Well, roots of any orchid are debatable, but my advice is to leave the roots alone! Our oldest orchid has roots almost 2 feet long and honestly, I let them be. Moth orchids are native to tropical conditions living above ground and clinging to trees. Their roots are designed to pull moisture from the air rather than plants in soil where they pull moisture from the ground. So long story short - save the roots - just leave them be and let your Moth orchid live happily. The only time you will ever touch those roots is if they they ever begin to turn yellow. This is a sign that your home has little moisture and only in this case, you will trim the root down with sterile scissors. Yes, sterile. Cutting any plant with non-sterile plants can introduce harmful viruses to your plants. Yes, plants can get sick too, they’re living beings!

SICK ORCHID

So now that I’ve brought it up - what happens if your Moth orchid gets sick? Well, to make you feel better one of my Moth Orchids has gotten sick! So sick in fact we had to trim all it’s leaves off. One of the most common is spotting on orchid leaves which is actually a fungal or bacterial infection. In most cases you will find the leaves turning black, brown, or even yellow. For mine it was a round yellow-ish spot about the size of a quarter which grew and grew. Not knowing what was happening I did research and learned it was a bacterial infection. You will want to work quickly and use alcohol to sterilize a pair of scissors and cut any infection area off. For our orchid, unfortunately, we cut the entire leaf off due to the wide spread of the bacterial infection. Make sure to keep an eye on your Moth orchid over the next few days and weeks to ensure that the bacterial infection has not begun anywhere else. You may also want to quarantine your orchid from other orchids so your other plants do not get sick as well.

I hope this has helped you build a little bit more confidence to either purchase a Moth orchid or maybe assist with the one you currently have! Moth orchids are gorgeous plants and they fill your home with so much beauty so stay confident and happy planting friends!