Our Orchid Show features hundreds of vibrant, blooming orchids that provide a colorful escape from a cold winter’s day. But perhaps what’s most impressive about the show is the fact that all of the orchids come from the Garden’s permanent collection of more than 6,000 orchids. All the orchids you see in the show are housed at the Garden year round in our behind-the-scenes greenhouse. They’re placed into the show just as they come into bloom.
Seeing those vibrant blooms may have you wondering how you can replicate that process on a smaller scale. Say, just getting your one orchid to bloom at home. The Kemper Center for Home Gardening provided the following tips on getting orchids to rebloom:
Know Your Orchid
Most tropical orchids kept as house plants will bloom every year if their environmental needs are being met. These include light intensity, moisture, humidity, air circulation, and temperature requirements. These differ from one species of orchid to another. The first steps to getting your orchid to rebloom are to find out what kind of orchid you have and what kind of growing conditions it requires. The Kemper Center is a great place to start this process! We have a multitude of resources available to help you identify and care for your orchid. Once you have satisfied your orchid’s basic growing requirements, you can start to focus on triggering blooming.
In the St. Louis area, tropical orchids will do most of their growing during the spring and summer when the days are long and warm. This is the time to fertilizer your plant with an orchid-specific fertilizer, or a diluted all-purpose houseplant fertilizer that has equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These amounts are often found on the packaging listed as three numbers, such as 15-30-15 or 24-8-16. Make sure to pick a “balanced” fertilizer that has equal parts of the three main nutrients. More fertilizer will not mean more blooms, so don’t over do it. A little goes a long way.
The next step in triggering blooming for most orchids is to provide them with a three or four week period of cool temperatures. As temperatures start to fall in the autumn and winter, this will happen naturally by a window. Place the orchid close to the window, but not too close if there is a draft. Make sure all the other cultural requirements of your orchid are still being met. For example, if being closer to the window causes the plant to receive too much light, partially close the blinds or put up a sheer curtain to filter out some of the direct sunlight.
After your plant’s blooming cycle is complete, you can resume fertilizing and check to make sure it does not need to be repotted. Most orchids should be given new growing medium every 1-2 years. This is because the materials used in orchid growing mixes tend to break down quickly and will start to hold on to more moisture than the roots need, leading to rot.
Following these steps should help create a showy display of orchid blooms in your home year after year.
For additional gardening help, be sure to check out the Kemper Center’s website.
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