Orchid Filter - we bought plugs! Now what??
January 25, 2010 10:03 PM   Subscribe

Orchid Filter - we bought plugs! Now what??

We bought plugs (small orchids, pre-flower) plants back in November at an Orchid Show. Plugs are the small fry, literally grown in plugs of growing material. We strung them ( 8 small plants) onto a huge piece of driftwood that now lives on our upper window in the bathroom. Their roots have the "plug dirt" surrounded by sphagnum moss, which I added. They've got sun, air, we're in LA - so it's dry weather - they get misted (purified water) and steam from the shower.

They are healthy right now - but I want more. How/what kind of fertilizer is best. I want them to "take root" on this big piece of driftwood, and flower once in a while.

How do I do that? What is the right fertilizer formula? How much moisture do they need (think of these guys as "air plants" which is how we "planted" them.) Orchids will grow on tree bits, which is how we "planted" these - I just can't tell what else they need. How big do they get before flowering (which I know is more about conditions and nutrients...)

We want to be good Orchid Folk.

posted by jbenben to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
What kind of orchid is it?
posted by aquafortis at 11:25 PM on January 25, 2010

Fertilizer would most likely kill them. Most orchids naturally live in environments where they don't have access to natural fertilizers.

But AquaFortis asks a good question: what kind of orchids are they? Orchids vary enormously in terms of what they want. Some require sunlight; some will die in it. Some require high heat and humidity, some like cool and dry. It's impossible to know what will make yours prosper without knowing the species.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:13 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Be very very careful about fertilising. It may not promote flowering (lots of orchids flower once a year, come hell or high water, others are more finicky. But all you can do is make the plant healthy enough when flowering time comes; you can't make flowering time happen), and it will very likely kill your plant. It's easy to over fertilise and kill them. Patience is the best quality for orchids. Also, watch out for over-watering. You'll know you're doing something right when they start putting out root shoots. Basically, outside a simple watering schedule and maaaaybe once a year orchid fertiliser pellets/transplant if the plant is too big, I have found benign neglect has bought about the best results from my orchids.
posted by smoke at 2:11 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

There are at least 6 different types - I'll check and report back.

"Benign Neglect" - this is what we were thinking, too.

Yes on the root shoots - I know to keep an eye out for those. Actually, the root shoots on the plugs weren't looking so hot, so I added the moss to help hold in the moisture from mistings.

I suspected the fertilizer was maybe a mistake, even though one of the vendors at the show suggested it. Thanks.


I guess more or less I wanted to discuss how we had mounted them to the driftwood, and get a feeling from everyone if it sounded like we were doing it right.

All of the leaves look plump and happy (and it's been 3 months now since they were mounted) but the root shoots were sad.

More later.

Thanks everyone!
posted by jbenben at 10:28 AM on January 26, 2010

If you have six types of orchids, chances are you're going to need different kinds of fertilizers, microclimates, and food-and-watering schedules! Mail me and I'd love to help however I can.
posted by aquafortis at 2:35 PM on January 26, 2010

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