ORCHIDS LIKE A LOT OF LIGHT, AND A JUST A LITTLE WATER…
Most orchids are in bloom for several weeks to several months, and bloom one or two times per year. Many orchids need very bright sunlight or a greenhouse environment in which to re-spike with fresh flower buds. But if you purchase your orchids already in bud and starting to open, orchids will bloom to their full potential, beautifully, in indoor environments with indirect light (or a little direct light such as skylights or near a window), and watering 2 to 3 times per month.
The number one cause for an orchid to have less than peak performance, or experience early flower wilt, and/or bud drop is insufficient light. Another factor is too much water… the roots quickly rot when over-watered. There are over 30,000 species of orchids. Many of them are epiphytic…in nature, they grow from the bark of trees, in the air... they don't like to sit in water, and in fact, don't need much water at all.
HOW TO WATER YOUR ORCHIDS from green door design
Our orchids (grown in a moss medium) like to be watered once every 7, 10 or 14 days - depending on the size of the plant, the potting medium (bark or moss), time of year, and home environment. Be sure to ask about watering when you buy your orchid. Many of the arrangements at green door design are set in place with moss and/or rocks, and are not meant to be taken apart – and this is ok. We give our clients simple, clear watering instructions for their arrangements. If you’re not sure, go with the 10-day cycle in the warmer months, and the 14-day cycle during the cooler months. (see below for specifics)
FOR ORCHIDS GROWN IN MOSS MEDIUM
For Moss Medium orchids - that are also mossed or rocked in place - and not to be removed from their decorative container, we’ve found it works well to water in place with the following guidelines.
About 10” to 12” tall. (and in 2” diam. plastic grow pots) Water in center of each orchid, once every 7 to 10 days; 1/4 cup water in each orchid. During warm months, or if your home is bright and on the warm side, go for a 7-day cycle. During cooler months, or if your home is bright and on the cooler side, go for a 10 day cycle.
MEDIUM and LARGER ORCHIDS
About 18” to 30” tall (and in 4” to 6" diam plastic grow pots) Water in center of each orchid, once every 10 to 14 days; 1/3 to 1/2 cup water in each orchid. During warm months, or if your home is bright/warm, go for a 10-day cycle, 1/3 cup. During cooler months, or if your home is bright/cooler, go for a 14- day cycle. 1/2 cup.
FOR ORCHIDS GROWN IN BARK MEDIUM
Bark Medium orchids are easy to take to the sink. At green door, we usually don’t have bark medium orchids for sale, or in our arrangements. But if you have bark medium orchids, it’s best to water them every 7 to 10 days; at the sink, let water run through the bark for a few seconds. Drain, and return to decorative pot. Never let the orchid sit in water.
Feed when dormant, not when in bloom. Follow the instructions with general orchid fertilizer or a fertilizer for the specific species of orchid. In general, small amounts of orchid fertilizer, every month or two, will do the trick.
For most Phalaenopsis orchids in the Bay Area that are living indoors, indirect bright light is ideal, along with a little bit of direct sunlight. They also love the passing light from skylights! Too much direct sunlight, however, especially during warmer months, may not be well tolerated. Many orchids will bloom fully and beautifully in medium light areas as well.
Most orchids prefer the normal temperatures in a home - 62 to 75 during the day, and 55 to 65 during the night. Orchids may bloom faster in very warm environments, and may last longer in cooler temperatures. Never place your orchid in direct contact with air conditioning or heating vents.
The blooms will naturally whither and fall off, usually one at a time, but sometimes all at once. If they do not fall off naturally, gently clip off any blooms that look finished. When your orchid arrangement is finished blooming, it’s time to drop off at green door for a replenishment! Or call for a pick up… our delivery man is out every day all around Marin County and parts of San Francisco. If requested, we will trim and send back your dormant orchids with your order.
When your orchids have finished blooming, you can keep and nurture towards their next blooming cycle (get Mary E. Gerritsen's book above); you can compost them if they're not looking great and healthy; you can give them to a friend or neighbor that has that orchid green thumb; you can bring them back to green door, where we pass them on. The last option is to “board” your orchid collection for a monthly fee at a greenhouse - we can refer you to this service.
INDOOR FOLIAGE PLANTS - WATER, SET UP & CARE
DO THE SOIL TEST
Water when the soil is dry to the touch 1”- 2” down. This will be a 7, 10 or 14-day cycle – depending on the size and type of plant, placement in your home, and season. There are some interior plants that will require even less water… once every 3 to 4 weeks, such Sansaveria Snake plants. For most smaller to medium sized indoor plants, water at the sink, or outside with the hose, or in-place with the proper set up. At the sink or outside: water with just enough water that a little bit drains from the soil; let it drain fully and return plant to its decorative container.
BEST SET UP FOR INDOOR HOUSE PLANTS
Our recommended set up has three components: (Do this! Your plants will drain properly, AND it will protect your floors from water damage.)
1. Your plant lives directly in a PLASTIC GROW POT that drains.
2. A DEEP PLASTIC LINER sits under the plastic grow pot, to catch excess water.
3. A DECORATIVE CONTAINER houses the plant and liner and is ideally water tight.
If you have this set up, there will be no water spills on the floor and thus you will protect your floors from water damage! Also, you will NOT need an exterior saucer – they don’t look great inside, and are best suited for outside planter set ups.
To review: Your plant continues to live directly in its PLASTIC GROW POT. The grow pot then sits in a DEEP PLASTIC LINER, which then is placed in your DECORATIVE WATER TIGHT CONTAINER. Another bonus – it’s much easier when it’s repotting time. Just remove plant and place in a bigger plastic grow pot, with fresh soil. You can shift things around and purchase a new decorative container if needed and use your smaller decorative container for a new plant…. A win win!
WHEN WATERING LARGER PLANTS that can’t go to the sink, or bathtub, slowly pour small amounts of water, around different areas of the soil, with enough water so that a little comes out of bottom into your plastic liner. Peek inside and insure that you didn’t overwater… if you see too much excess water, paper towel it out, make a note and water with less water next time.
ALWAYS DO THE SOIL TOUCH
Touch the soil, down 1” to 2”. If it’s dry to the touch, then water. If it’s still moist, or even slightly moist, wait a few days and check again. You’ll get the rhythm of each plant’s water needs as time goes by.
NEVER LET PLANTS SIT IN EXCESS WATER. Most plants die from overwatering. Many plants want to be slightly dry before the next drink. Ask and jot down your plant's name, and specific watering needs at time of purchase.
ROTATE YOUR PLANTS MONTHLY
This way they will get an even distribution of light, and their growth will be more even. Plus it’s good to take a look at the entire plant regularly, to inspect for pests or other issues, and prune off shedding yellowing or brown leaves.
Every month or so with a good liquid plant food. Don’t over do it… just a small amount is fine every month or so.
CLEAN THE FOLIAGE
You can spray your plants w/ a gentle water stream (the shower works well- or outside with the hose) monthly, or several times a year to clean the foliage. A large damp sponge works well with large leaf plants such as Ficus Lyrata (fiddle leaf fig).
IF YOUR PLANT or ORCHID IS STRUGGLING, HERE ARE SOME TIPS
- Snap a photo of your plant, with a description of what's going on, and text to green door… we may be able to help! 415 367-5966.
- Reasons for decline could be due to: Light, Temperature, Watering Issue, Disease, Infestation, or a combination of any of these things.
- Do some research on your plant – what light does it like? Is it a thirsty plant? Or more drought tolerant? Does it need repotting or fertilizer?
- Once you determine what this specific plant likes and doesn’t like, take appropriate action. Water less or more frequently, or less or more thoroughly; move the plant to a different location; clean and prune the plant; repotting may help; fertilizing may help.
- After you’ve taken some steps to help your plant, and it is still struggling, it may be time to compost or give to a green thumb friend to try!
- It could just be the case that in that particular location, a living plant or orchid just won’t thrive.
- If watering can not be maintained, perhaps succulents are for you! (if the light is good). There are other “no- water” plant design solutions that can be striking - such as dried foliage or branches.