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TomatoNut95
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Please help me with my new orchid!

Hello! I hope I posted this in the right spot: I need some orchid advice. This is my very first; I fell in love with it at Lowes. :-() I know they're fragile and picky. I bought Miracle-Gro Orchid potting mix for it. What do I need to do for my new orchid to keep it happy and healthy?
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imafan26
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Re: Please help me with my new orchid!

It requires 50% shade and high humidity. The pot should never sit in a saucer of water. Cats grow normally on trees. No orchid really likes to be confined in a pot. Water well and wait until the media is almost dry before watering again. It is in a plastic pot so it needs good air circulation so it will be able to dry out faster. Most orchids only need to be watered once or twice a week in a shadehouse in the tropics. It looks like a 1-2 year old seedling. It may be a 2-3 years before it reaches bloom size. Cats bloom once a year on the youngest growth. Time of bloom is determined by when the growth matures. Your plant looks like it may have 2 growths, so it is at least a couple of years old.

Most cats bloom in summer and they only bloom for 10-14 days, maybe 3 weeks tops with some cultivars and good culture. It needs to come out of that bag but it does not need to be repotted until the new growth reaches the edge, so maybe another year. Healthy roots are white and will turn a little greener when watered. They should be firm and the media should also be firm and not crumble easily. The plant is an epiphyte so it should never sit in water. The orchid mix you bought is fine, but you don't need it now. Most orchidists now use orchiata instead of fir bark because it is harder and does not break down very fast. Fertilize with Peters 20-20-20 1/2 strength water soluble food or 13-2-13 (Michigan formula for reverse osmosis water). If you cannot find Peters, than miracle grow for acid loving plants (azalea, rhododendrons) 1/2 strength will do. Every 4th watering use only plain preferably rain water to flush out the media.

See if there is a local orchid society you can join. It is a good place to learn about how to take care of orchids and every grower has their own tricks that they have developed.

You can get more information about affiliate orchid clubs and orchid culture sheets from the American Orchid Society Website. There are orchid societies all over the world. Different orchids are suitable for different climates. I can grow cattleyas on my plumeria tree or on the fence under shade cloth in Hawaii. But I can only grow warm house orchids not cold ones. Orchids that need to be colder than 75 day temps would not bloom well for me.

If you want an orchid that blooms well indoors longer and blooms faster. Try phalaenopsis. It blooms in two years from seedlings and the blooms can last for months not days.
https://www.aos.org/orchids/additional-r ... art-1.aspx
https://www.aos.org/AOS/media/Content-Im ... ttleya.pdf
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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TomatoNut95
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Re: Please help me with my new orchid!

Thanks, Imafan! It's out of the bag. So, I don't need to repot it from the itty bitty pot it's in? When I do, would a clay pot be better? Miracle-Gro offers orchid fertilize- but would the azalea food be better? I want to keep my orchid in the house. Should I mist the orchid? If so, how often? Forgive all the questions- like I said it's my first orchid. (And last if this one dies) :)

imafan26
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Re: Please help me with my new orchid!

The American orchid society has culture sheets on a variety of different orchids. The best orchids for growing indoors are the paphs and phalaenopsis because they require 70% shade. Cats are 50% shade plants. They require more light about 5000 lumens for 8 hours a day. Full sun for me is 8000 lumens and 70% shade is about 3500 lumens. It can be done with artificial lighting. Orchids in general prefer indirect sun and will burn in direct sun. Usually indoors they can be grown near a sunny window with a sheer curtain and at least 18 inches from the window. Morning sun is better than afternoon so an east facing window is best.

I grow my more shade tolerant orchids and orchids that are currently in bloom live on my table on my lanai. The lanai is open on three sides and even then, I can still get some leaf scorch on the orchids that face the south side. I keep them in the lanai because the flowers will last longer and spot less if the don't get watered from above. I keep the paphs on the table year round because they need the most shade and a large anthurium is occupying the spot where I normally would keep them. They don't do well even 2 feet over on the same bench. The lanai is open on three sides so the air movement is very good and the orchids will dry out fast on my metal mesh patio table.

Leaf texture and color is a good guide to knowing if the light is good. Leaf should be medium green. If it gets darker green it is getting less light. While that will not kill the plant, it needs light to be able to bloom. Leaves that are yellow or scorched are getting more light than they need. However, some orchids can be trained into more light slowly over time where I live. Orchids bloom better with more light and I have a warm, humid climate that is good for them year round and plumeria trees for them to hang on. Frangipani plumeria are not native to Hawaii ( indigenous to the Caribbean, Mexico, and parts of Florida). Frangipani plumeria lose leaves in the fall, perfect for the orchids since the winter sun is weaker and they can get more light and the canopy grows back in the spring to provide summer shade.

Cats will tolerate temperatures in the high 80's very well. We do get temperatures in the 90's and low 100's (in August), but the shade under the trees and the trade winds mitigate that. The heat here is not a dry heat, it is very humid, but humidity keeps temperatures lower, even though it feels hotter. Humidity here would be around 67% (dry) up to 99%. Really when its raining its 100%, the floors can't be mopped because they take too long to dry. Average humidity is around 80%. I don't know what the Cat low temp tolerances are, but we never freeze and it can get down into the 40's in a cold winter and the cats still do fine. There aren't many cats blooming in winter, those are usually more prized because of that. Peak bloom season for cats is summer.

Orchids really don't like pots very much and they like to be tight. So, the pot should only be big enough to accommodate two growths or about two years. It is about a finger width of space. The size of the roots determine the size of the pot, not the size of the plant. When I have top heavy plants like dendrobiums and some of the oncidiums, I put them in cement or clay pots because they would be falling over all the time and plastic does not breathe. Orchids are usually replanted after blooming or when the new growth has 1/2 inch of new roots showing. Wait until the new growth is about ready to hang over the pot. I water a lot, almost everyday, so I don't like to use the orchid mix from miracle grow. It contains orchid fir bark, perlite and some peat moss. It drains well but I water my orchids or it rains more than once a week. In the rainy season, a couple of weeks of 24/7 rain could drown the orchids. Fir bark breaks down relatively fast 1-2 years. I only use bark for some seedlings (I use seedling bark which is finer, and some orchiata bark which is harder and lasts longer than fir bark. I prefer to use cinder for most of the orchids I do plant in media because it really does not breakdown much, but it does have to be sized and washed of the rock dust. I prefer large black cinder to crushed, but sometimes I use red cinder, because the pieces are usually bigger. For some plants like vanda, epis, maxilaria, oncidiums, and some cattleyas, I will use pots with no media. Vandaceous orchids are fine just stuck in a fence or attached to the trees or just hanging in an empty basket. Oncidiums, maxilaria, epis are just in pots with no media, that way even if they get watered every day, the roots won't rot. The pots are clay so they won't hold much water and will breathe. Cattleyas and phalaenopsis, I do start off in some media in baskets. Once, the roots attach to the basket, I knock out most of the media, they can hang in the tree or on the fence under shade cloth and even daily watering won't bother them. This also means they will probably be in the basket for life and if they survive will become specimen plants.

Orchid food or azalea food, it does not matter, both are for acid loving plants. Peter's 20-20-20 is better designed for orchids and is a balanced fertilizer. Miracle grow orchid food is 30-10-10 so it is a high nitrogen growth food. Miracle grow for Azaleas was formerly called miracid. It analyzes to 30-30-10. All purpose Miracle grow is 15-30-15. It is the one that I usually use, when I use it. The first number is for Nitrogen which promotes vegetative growth. It is used during the growing season. An orchids is actively growing when the tip of the root is green. When the velamin (white part of the roots) covers the green tip, the orchid is dormant, so it should not be fed, but rested, water only. If you know the bloom time of the orchid, you can use the calendar to set up the fertilizing schedule. Once the growth is bloom size, you switch to a bloom fertilizer which is relatively low in nitrogen. like 15-30-15. Most cats are summer blooming so around April or May you would switch to a bloom fertilizer. My orchid maniac friends who grow really great prize winners, fungicide monthly and use MIchigan formula 13-2-13, dolomite lime, super thrive, Eleanor's VF11, nutracote, and orchiata bark. Compared to them, my orchid culture sucks. I don't fungicide and it is pretty much survival of the fittest since I no longer miracle grow everything every two weeks like I used to. If anything, I under fertilize now and I always sucked at repotting in bark. Fertilizing happens when I repot and when I get to it. Most of the time, it is too late to repot and I find out what is dead when I clean up my bench. I have a can full of orchid tags to prove how much I have killed off. I am also good at losing orchid tags. I lost one today because I could not remember where I left the tag after I repotted the plant. Still, even though, I am not the best orchid parent, and I don't buy as many orchids as I used to, I do have survivors and I still have enough survivors to have something in bloom almost year round. I actually have a lot of winter blooming orchids because most of the plants are from the orchid club Christmas party so they are winter bloomers. I used to maintain a collection of about 300 orchids. A lot of them are the same thing since they are divisions and I have bought the same orchid more than once intentionally, but more often because I like what I like and I don't remember I already have it.

Orchids do require a bit of patience and there are all kinds of recipes to follow to get the most bloom. What works for me is to pot orchids so they dry really fast. So I opt for baskets and pots that breathe over plastic. I use minimum media or no media. That way there is nothing to breakdown and rot the roots. I am also bad at repotting on time. Orchids do not like to be over potted the roots should just fit. Remember, normally, orchids are epiphytes and grow on the branches of trees, they do not grow in the soil and their roots are exposed to the rain and the air. Orchids may live in the wettest jungles and get rained on every day, but they are designed to be very good at catching and absorbing rain on their roots and dry off very fast. The happiest orchids are the ones with the roots hanging on the outside of the pots and attaching to trees or the orchid benches for support. BTW. I made about 10 divisions from one plant that had outgrown its six inch pot and had attached itself to the wire rack. I have been underfeeding them, so I actually do need to fertilize the more.

Here is another source for orchids. Harry Akatsuka is an orchid farmer on the Big Island. He comes to our orchid club about once a year to be our lecturer. He is one of the old timers. There are fewer of them now as most have passed away. On the cattleya page is a yellow cat with red lip and flares called Rlc. Toshie Aoki "Pizazz". I have killed this orchid more than once. The breeder was my orchid teacher, Robert Aoki, who passed away a few years ago. This orchid was named for his wife.
https://akatsukaorchid.com/orchid-care-guides-1/
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About 20 oncidium sphacelatum (popcorn orchids). Bloomed late 2 days after mother's day and lasted about 15-20 days.  Usually blooms around Mother's day. I divided the plants in January while they were in spike.  Usually you don't do this, but popcorn is forgiving and the spikes are up from December before they bloom in May. About half of these orchids were divisions from the original pots.  Orchids can multiply like rabbits if you have good ones.  These aren't all of the popcorn. I have more in the back yard I still have not re potted yet.  These orchids are on a bench in the sun but the house and the plants surrounding it does provide some shade but it does end up getting some afternoon sun. It is why the leaves are yellow and some of the new divisions got sunburn. Don't worry, I'll cut off the bad leaves and they will still be good.  Most are planted in 6 inch or larger concrete and terra cotta pots without media.  they are packed solid.  A few pots did not have enough orchids to fill the pot so I did fill with some black cinder and I fed them osmocote a couple of times.  I just cut off the spent spikes and fed them again last week.  They are watered almost every day now in summer.  When it is cooler they can go about 3 days before they need to be watered.  This is what works for me, breathable heavy pots (the plants are top heavy and will fall if not weighted.)
About 20 oncidium sphacelatum (popcorn orchids). Bloomed late 2 days after mother's day and lasted about 15-20 days. Usually blooms around Mother's day. I divided the plants in January while they were in spike. Usually you don't do this, but popcorn is forgiving and the spikes are up from December before they bloom in May. About half of these orchids were divisions from the original pots. Orchids can multiply like rabbits if you have good ones. These aren't all of the popcorn. I have more in the back yard I still have not re potted yet. These orchids are on a bench in the sun but the house and the plants surrounding it does provide some shade but it does end up getting some afternoon sun. It is why the leaves are yellow and some of the new divisions got sunburn. Don't worry, I'll cut off the bad leaves and they will still be good. Most are planted in 6 inch or larger concrete and terra cotta pots without media. they are packed solid. A few pots did not have enough orchids to fill the pot so I did fill with some black cinder and I fed them osmocote a couple of times. I just cut off the spent spikes and fed them again last week. They are watered almost every day now in summer. When it is cooler they can go about 3 days before they need to be watered. This is what works for me, breathable heavy pots (the plants are top heavy and will fall if not weighted.)
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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TomatoNut95
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Re: Please help me with my new orchid!

Oh. Wow. I gotta say this... You are SMART! My poor orchid so does not deserve a dummy like me. :cry: I'm quite sure I'll end up killing it one way or another because obviously the orchid is smaller than me. :roll:

So you're saying I should my orchid outside. Sounds like it would be happier it being a cat then. But I'll need to bring it indoors before temps drop to 50s and 40s. I will get on the American Orchid Society website and print out any info I can find! Thanks, @Imafan26!!!! All your intelligence should be put into a book! So I can read it! :-() :-()

Say, if I were to remove the orchid from the pot and dirt, and set the bulb on a piece of petrified wood, would the roots attach themselves onto the piece and pretend it's on a tree branch?

Also, are you saying that orchids are in kinda the same family as bromeiads, and tillisandias(air plants)? Because I'm an air plant nut. Check out my 'air babies'!
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TomatoNut95
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Re: Please help me with my new orchid!

Oops, I meant my orchid is SMARTER than me. Not smaller. I typo a lot. :oops:

imafan26
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Re: Please help me with my new orchid!

Orchids are better outside in my warm and humid climate. If you have the right kind of orchid they are happy outside when the weather is nice, but they still need to be provided with shade as most orchids are not full sun plants unless they are acclimated.
Here, orchids can be kept in trees with dappled shade or we put them in shade houses if there are a lot of orchids.

It will be better for you to keep your orchid indoors unless you have an open lanai. I put 47% shade cloth on a pvc frame mounted on top of my benchmaster and drape the fabric over the fence so I can hang orchids on the fence. Doubling the shade cloth will raise the shading enough for the paphs and phalaenopsis. Unfortunately most of my shade houses have been knocked down by the wind and the neighbor's invasive plants weighing down my orchid benches. PVC is not as strong as wood or pipes. Another thing I have to work on fixing again.

Indoors you need to be careful of watering and not letting the plant roots sit in water. Light can be measured with a light meter. A sheer curtain can filter light from a window or if you have grow shelf, and artificial light, that set up does fine as well. Air circulation can be provided with fans. Humidity with humidity trays.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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TomatoNut95
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Re: Please help me with my new orchid!

Humidity trays? If I mist my orchid, will that hurt it? (Also, I plant to use rainwater only on it, not our chlorinated faucet water) The brightest place in the house is my step-dad's bathroom because of the huge window. I suppose I can put in there, but take it out before he comes home and gets a shower? Or will that upset the orchid to keep moving it? (I can't leave it in there during the evening because he's weird and puts on baby powder after showering. At least I think he still does. And I don't want my plant coated with powder.

imafan26
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Re: Please help me with my new orchid!

Misting works to improve humidity. An east facing window would be good. It does not have to be large as long as it has good light. A fluorescent light mounted on a shelf about 4-6 inches above the plant also works if you keep it on 6-8 hours a day. If all you can find are LED fixtures, you will need to use an LED grow light. Regular LED lights do not have the full spectrum of light required for plants.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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TomatoNut95
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Re: Please help me with my new orchid!

As a matter of fact, the bathroom window I mentioned is eastish facing. The morning sun comes up somewhere out that way. (Sorry for sounding stupid.... :oops: ) Ok, you said misting will be fine. How often should I do it? Once or twice a day or week? And will it upset the orchid to move it every evening and morning?
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TomatoNut95
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Re: Please help me with my new orchid!

Here's some more pictures I just took of the orchid, if that helps?
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imafan26
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Re: Please help me with my new orchid!

The orchid looks healthy. People often keep orchids in bathrooms because they are humid especially after people shower and it is one of the few rooms in the house (at least here) where the window is kept open most of the time to let air in. Misting can be done daily, but watering should be done sparingly. The soil should be able to almost dry out before watering again. People sometimes water with ice cubes instead. No saucers of water under the plant unless the saucer has pot feet or pebbles to keep the water below the bottom of the pot.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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TomatoNut95
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Re: Please help me with my new orchid!

@imafan, how's the orchid look so far? I think it's growing! :-() By the way, what it the coolest temperature the orchid will take? The room I'm keeping it in gets a little chilly at night 'cause the outdoor temps have been in the high 40's to low 50's. Last night I brought the orchid in my bedroom. It's the warmest room in the house at night because I run a small heater. (I can't stand being cold) If I keep doing that night, am I doing more harm or good for the orchid? My mother always told me that moving a plant around from room to room was stressful.
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