When to fertilize outdoor orchids is a factor that is determined by knowing about your orchids’ growing and dormancy phases. When the time is right, give weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly doses, depending on your preference.
But sometimes, feeding fertilizers can hurt the orchids, and a good gardener should know about such times too. Let’s delve into complete details about when to give nutrients and how to add them correctly.
- When Is The Right Time to Fertilize Outdoor Orchids?
- When Not to Fertilize Outdoor Orchids?
- How to Fertilize Outdoor Orchids the Right Way?
- How To Know You Have Added Too Much Fertilizer?
When Is The Right Time to Fertilize Outdoor Orchids?
The right time to fertilize outdoor orchids is in their active growing phases, which is in spring, every two weeks, as you add nutrients at the end of flowering to restart blooming. Furthermore, you can also apply fertilizers at the end of dormancy to break it off early, once monthly.
– During the Growth Phase
When orchids are actively growing, they need more nutrients. The minerals maintain the internal processes, ultimately providing energy to produce new growths. Therefore, add fertilizers during this time, so the orchids don’t face nutrient stress.
But when does the growing season start? Some orchid species, like Maxillaria tenuifolia, keep growing throughout the year. It means you should fertilize it for the whole year. But most species have a specific growing period in which they produce leaves, stems, roots, and flowers.
Phalaenopsis prefers winter to springtime, so you should give nutrients during this period. Similarly, vanda orchids like spring to summer seasons to develop flowering buds, but in this case, you may also try to look for the species’ growing season of your orchids and add fertilizer during this time.
– At the End of Flowering
Another time to fertilize your orchids is when flowering is nearing its end and blooms are about to fall off. It is done to prolong the blooming phase for a few more weeks. Note that we use phosphorus and potassium-rich fertilizer in this situation, as it is the right kind in such a case.
In addition to this, you must be mindful and make sure to feed fertilizers in the middle of the flowering. Ensure up to four weeks are left in the blooming, and then choose to add fertilizer.
– Last Days of Dormancy
Some orchids, like Dendrobium, Coelogyne, Cymbidium, Habenaria, etc., become dormant for a few weeks in the cold season. It is a resting phase in which these orchids prepare themselves for the upcoming growing season, and it’s when spring is around the corner as they get out of dormancy.
In this case, keep in mind that sometimes, orchid plants rest for a long time, so now, it is best that you would break the dormancy by adding a small dose of minerals.
You must be thinking, how often to fertilize orchids, but don’t worry, because it is best that you start to feed nutrients weekly or every two weeks. Doing this will keep the potting medium rich in minerals, allowing orchids to bloom smoothly.
Adding fertilizers after every two weeks is a good strategy too. But if you think maintaining a weekly or bi-weekly schedule is tough, add nutrients monthly, this is also the care of when to fertilize orchids indoors.
When Not to Fertilize Outdoor Orchids?
You should not fertilize outdoor orchids in their dormant phases. It is because the plants slow down the nutrient uptake during this time, so there is no need for any fertilizer dose. In addition, stop feeding nutrients when the orchids bloom or feel stressed, like diseases, root damage, etc.
– During the Dormancy Phase
As mentioned above, some orchid types become dormant for a few weeks. In this phase, they don’t need much nutrients and water as they are not producing any growth. You should either cut the fertilization dose in half or stop adding it altogether.
If you keep feeding fertilizers, the minerals will build up in the potting medium, leading to nutrient toxicity and root burn. Furthermore, the pH will become acidic, which will lock the nutrients, so keeping this in mind is good because you will be avoiding placing the plant in a stressful position.
– During Blooming Phase
When buds develop, stop feeding nutrients, and in case, you add fertilizer during this phase, orchids will drop off buds and focus on green or vegetative growth. Therefore, you will see leaves instead of flowers, even during the peak of the blooming season.
– When Orchids Feel Stressed
Another time to stop fertilizing is when orchids are sick. For instance, some orchids may face root rot disease, as this occurs if you over-add water for a long time. In this situation, let the plant become healthy. Similarly, if the orchid has lost its roots, give it time to re-grow them.
It is because if roots are not performing, the nutrients you add will not get absorbed. As a result, they will keep building in the potting medium, creating more stress for the plant. So, if your orchids are unhealthy, hold off the fertilization. When you are sure the plant has recovered, resume standard routine care.
How to Fertilize Outdoor Orchids the Right Way?
To fertilize outdoor orchids the right way, you should choose the appropriate plant fertilizer, and be detailed with the instructions given. Apply the fertilizer in the right way, make sure that you flush the medium once a month, and keep on monitoring the plant’s growth.
Before fertilizing outdoor orchids, decide whether to apply an inorganic or organic nutrient source. Then, purchase it and carefully read the instructions on the bottle or box. Follow them and flush the medium once a month to avoid mineral accumulation.
You should look for signs to know whether your orchid needs fertilizer. These are discolored leaves, stunted growth, lack of flowering, and thin stem. Furthermore, if you dig up the soil a little and find the roots weak, you need to add more fertilizers, and if you observe these problems, start feeding nutrients appropriately.
– Choose an Appropriate Plant Fertilizer
The most crucial thing in nourishing the orchids is choosing the right fertilizer. Using any random one can create problems, and the plants might take months to recover. So, what is the best fertilizer for orchids?
A 20:20:20 balanced fertilizer is considered most suitable for growing orchids. Here, 20 means 20 percent Nitrogen, 20 percent Phosphorus, and 20 percent Potassium. In addition, you can also use bloom boosters to see more flowers, such as the nutrients in Miracle Gro water soluble orchid food.
Popular orchid fertilizers are Miracle-Gro orchid, or you can also try to Grow more orchid fertilizer Combo because of the right requirements provided. You may also opt to use Miracle-Gro ready-to-use orchid plant food mist.
Some gardeners would prefer to add orchid fertilizer homemade, as there is no problem with it, too, if you add the right one. So, what is the best natural fertilizer for orchids? Well, there are many great choices for orchids, but the best ones are eggshells, bone meal, coffee grounds, and molasses.
Moreover, if you wish to pick an organic fertilizer like coffee and worry about how to fertilize orchids with coffee grounds, you must know that you can get used coffee grounds, rinse them thoroughly to remove any beverage residues, and let them dry. After this, add one tablespoon per gallon of the pot’s mix.
You can also make a layer of one inch. After adding coffee grounds, water the orchid pot and drain the excess liquid.
They are slow-release fertilizers, so the chances of salt buildup, pH change, and nutrient toxicity are way less. However, if you want your orchids to benefit from the mineral dose quickly, then use inorganic fertilizers.
– Read the Instructions Carefully
After getting a fertilizer, the next step is to read the instructions printed on it. You can also visit the fertilizer company’s official website or Amazon page to learn about the dosage details. If the bottle says “soluble fertilizer,” you should mix it with water.
So, how to water and fertilize orchids? If the bottle mentions a monthly dose, divide it by four and mix it in water. Remember how important it is to mix it with some water, as dilution reduces the chance of fertilizer burn and other complications.
– Apply the Fertilizer
After preparing the fertilization solution, don’t let it sit for hours. Immediately pour it into the potting mix and ensure it does not splash on the leaves. Follow the instructions if you should add it in powdered or granular form.
It is better if you apply fertilizer dose in the morning. It is because orchids are feeling fresh and less stressed during this time of the day. Therefore, the roots will start to uptake the minerals quickly, and you will see a boost in stem and leaf growth.
– Flush the Medium Once a Month
Minerals or salts accumulate in the potting medium after the fertilizer dose, which can make roots uncomfortable. Therefore, we recommend you soak the medium once a month to leach down these “toxins.” If the orchid is small, taking it to the kitchen sink and watering it with a faucet is a good option. You can add water with a hose too.
When you saturate the medium, ensure the water gets drained out, so if you let it stay, the chances of root rot and other fungal diseases will go high. Most water should quickly drain from the pot’s drainage hole. You can remove the rest by tilting the pot, and after this, use a sponge to soak in the extra moisture, so that the potting medium should now be healthier for the orchid.
– Keep Monitoring the Impact
After adding fertilizers, it is crucial to observe the orchid’s response. If you follow everything correctly, the plant should produce new leaflets. Its roots and stems should get stronger as well. But if you feed more nutrients, the orchid might get permanently hurt.
How To Know You Have Added Too Much Fertilizer?
To know whether you have over-added fertilizers, observe the leaves. If you see tips and edges turning yellow, it means you added a bigger mineral dose than needed. Furthermore, check the potting medium’s pH. If it changes drastically, it is a sign of fertilizer overloading.
– Yellow Spots
When you over-apply fertilizers, the tips and edges of the leaves start to discolor. After some time, the yellowing will spread to another surface area. Eventually, the leaves will wilt and fall off and the plant may start to weaken as well.
– pH Change
The potting medium’s pH changes when you are not careful with the fertilizer doses. In most cases, it becomes excessively acidic. Contrarily, the potting medium can become alkaline if you add eggshells or oyster shells. Use pH stripes to confirm.
All-inclusive, outdoor orchids need fertilizer during their active growing phase the most, so you can also feed minerals at the end of blooming and break the dormancy. Don’t forget these key points when you are adding nutrients:
- Skip fertilization during dormancy, blooming, and stress periods.
- Always follow the dosage instructions mentioned in the fertilizer.
- Flush the medium once a month to get rid of excessive minerals.
- Look for leaf yellowing and pH change to know whether you have over-applied fertilizers.
- You can follow weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly schedules, whichever suits you best.
Fertilizing orchids is that easy, so now, you can give appropriate mineral doses to your outdoor orchids and help them stay radiant!
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