Can You Fertilize Orchids When Blooming?
If you’ve been fertilizing your orchid before blooming, you may wonder if you should continue to fertilize it when your orchid enters the highly anticipated blooming phase.
There are different fertilizers for different purposes including fertilizers that stimulate orchid blooming. Because orchids are rather sensitive to fertilizers, it’s important to know when and how to fertilize.
I don’t recommend that you fertilize your orchid when in bloom and I’ll explain below why and when you should fertilize your orchids instead.
Fertilizing Your Orchid Plants
Orchids are planted in potting media that are naturally low in nutrients, therefore, supplementation of nutrients and minerals is needed to support the internal processes of the plant.
But orchids are not heavy feeders. In fact, they do better on a weak solution applied regularly. Orchids thrive when fertilized with a water soluble, balanced fertilizer.
An equal parts fertilizer will promote plant growth, root development and bud formation. Fertilizers high in phosphorus and low in nitrogen will promote flower formation.
Because orchids in bloom don’t focus on actively growing and instead focus on developing their blooms, they don’t need fertilizing.
If you’re still going to fertilize during this time do so sparingly and diluting the fertilizer to quarter strength.
If you over-fertilize, you risk causing bud blast or bloom loss, so I advise that you don’t fertilize at all during this time.
How Often to Water Orchids when Blooming?
How often you end up watering your orchid depends on factors that influence the water uptake of your orchid. These include indoor temperature, sun exposure, humidity levels and of course the wetness of the potting medium.
Depending on all these factors, you may end up watering your orchid only once a week or even less.
Some potting media can hold water much longer than others. For example, moss can hold water for longer than bark.
Water your orchid when the potting medium feels dry and the aerial roots are starting to turn gray. Water deeply, but make sure that all excess water drains out of the pot.
It’s a good idea to water your orchid in the morning so the potting medium has time to dry until nighttime. Excess water that sits in the pot during the night favors root rot.
Some orchid experts even recommend misting the flowers and leaves in the morning to mimic how these plants are watered in their natural habitat.
Use chlorine-free water and mist once or twice a week. This can also help elevate humidity levels if the air in your home is too dry.
How do You Make Your Orchid Have Bigger Flowers?
Making your orchid have bigger flowers during the next bloom has a lot to do with how you care for the orchid after a blooming cycle.
Here are a few tips on how to care for your orchid after blooming and stimulate bigger flower production:
Hold Off on Repotting
When you bring home an orchid from the garden center, you may be tempted to repot the plant. Don’t. Wait for the flowering period to end and repot only after all the blooms have fallen off.
If you repot too early, you risk causing the blooms to prematurely fall off. When repotting, always check the roots and remove any that are dried out, mushy, soft or diseased.
Trim Flower Spikes
Orchids don’t require pruning or trimming but spent flower spikes should be removed. You can cut back healthy flower spikes to one or two nodes or remove dried flower spikes entirely.
This will encourage the plant to grow stronger roots and produce healthier and larger flowers during the next blooming cycle.
Maintain Good Humidity Levels
Orchids thrive in high humidity and humidity is required for them for all internal processes from growing to flower production.
Whether you regularly mist your orchid or use a humidifier, make sure to maintain good humidity levels.
Lower Temperature During the Night
To stimulate the production of a flower spike and have your orchid rebloom, lower nighttime temperature to 55–65°F during the night. Do this for a couple of weeks to trigger repeat blooming for your orchid.
Maintain a Good Watering Schedule
With orchids, watering is problematic. Most of us will overwater an orchid, which can hinder healthy blooming and even cause bud blast issues if the roots of the plant start to rot.
Most experts recommend watering orchids every 10-14 days. But always check the soil and the roots. If the soil feels like it’s almost dry and the roots are starting to turn a bit gray, water your orchid.
Can You Fertilize Orchids with Coffee Grounds?
If you’ve been a long-time plant owner, you’ve probably come across the idea of using coffee grounds to fertilize orchids.
While used coffee grounds do have some level of nutrients that can be beneficial to plants including orchids, you need to know how to use coffee grounds.
I don’t recommend adding them to the soil as they are. It’s best to throw them onto a compost pile first and use them composted.
In this way you can harness its benefits and improve the soil quality without some potential detrimental effects like moisture retention which can lead to fungal growth or inhibiting plant growth because of its caffeine content.
Once composted, you can add small amounts to your orchid as a natural fertilizer.
When orchids bloom, they focus most of their energy in flower production and flower sustenance. Any plant growth that occurs during this time is minimal and the plant can go without fertilizing.
If you’re still unconvinced about not using a fertilizer when your orchid is in bloom, you can use a highly diluted fertilizer and only very sparingly.
Because there’s a risk of overfertilizing the plant, you need to be very careful not to cause the premature loss of the blooms or buds.
My recommendation: Fertilize your orchid regularly during the growth period with a weak fertilizer and break the fertilizer schedule during the blooming period until the flowers are spent.