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Seasonal Orchid Care - SPRING

Spring Cleaning for Your Orchids

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spring orchid care

Spring Care for orchids

Spring is a time of renewal, cleaning up and cleaning out. Apply these same principles for healthy, vibrant orchids with this easy-to-follow Spring Care for Orchids Guide.

Spring care for orchids consists of just 6 simple practices that will make all the difference between healthy orchids and so-so orchids. In this article, you’ll:

  1. Discover how to spring clean your orchids so they will look their best.
  2. Learn simple secrets for an allover orchid health check. Nip pests and disease in the bud before they become a problem.
  3. Find out what an orchid that’s ready for potting looks like. Hint: there are specific things to look for that signal it’s time to re-pot. 
  4. Spring orchid care differs from winter orchid care. There are things you need to do differently now that your orchid will begin actively growing.
  5. Learn about winter blooming orchids that will need particular attention.
  6. Get tips on how to train flower stalks to show off spring/summer blooming orchids.
  7. Get a bonus peek at my favorite dendrobiums that bloom winter-spring.

spring orchid culture

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Get Ready to Spruce Up Your Orchids

Spring cleaning isn’t just for closets and cupboards. Orchids benefit from regular cleanups as well. Not only will your orchids look better with withered leaves trimmed away and leaves polished, but tidying up the orchids will also take care of potential hiding places for pests to hide. This is also an excellent opportunity to check for pests and diseases.

Supplies Needed to Clean Orchids

  • Diluted milk or lemon juice
  • Soft cloth
  • Sterilized pruning shears
  • Torch for sterilizing shears

How to Clean Orchids

Gently wipe the leaves with a diluted solution of milk or lemon juice using a soft cloth. Clean up around pseudobulbs by removing old sheaths. Trim away shriveling leaves. Pluck away weeds and check potting media for decay. Keep an eye out for pests such as aphids, scale, and mealybugs. For more tips on treating pests and disease, click here.

Do an overall health checklist:

Now that the orchid is all cleaned up the orchid is ready to begin the orchid health checkup – and you’re the doctor.

  • Root tips should be bright green or magenta. If the roots are black, the pot, especially it is terracotta, may have absorbed excess fertilizer salts. Mushy, limp roots have been overwatered, while dry, brittle roots have been underwatered
  • Leaves ought to be bright green and upright. Yellow leaves may signal overwatering or a nitrogen deficiency. Dying leaf tips may mean too much fertilizer or too much light. If you use artificial light the orchid may be too close to the bulb.
  • Pseudobulbs provide water storage for the orchid. The newest pseudobulb should be plump and firm – and larger than older pseudobulbs until the orchid reaches maturity.
  • Flowers should be checked for abnormal streaking and unusual color changes that may point to a virus.

For more tips on how to tidy up your orchids, click here.

New Roots Signal That It’s Potting Time

During the orchid health check, you may have noticed new roots growing. This is an important observation because orchids recover best from potting if they are potted when new roots begin to emerge. 

Before potting your orchid check for new root growth. For orchids climbing out of their pots, this is a good time to divide your orchid to increase your collection or to share with a friend.

To divide sympodial orchids, check to make sure there are enough pseudobulbs to support at least two orchids. Keeping about 3 or 4 pseudobulbs together sever and pot the divisions.

Potting Emergencies – Even When You Don’t See New Root Growth

You may also have noticed that the potting media has begun to breakdown or that leaf tips have started to die. Broken down potting mix leads to compaction that deprives the roots of oxygen. Dying leaf tips indicate high salt build up in the potting mix which can quickly kill even a healthy orchid. In both of these situations, potting the orchid should happen right away. Obviously, potting before either of those scenarios is ideal. 

To check out the tools I use to pot my orchids, click here.

Spring Care for Orchids – Watch for Active Growth 

As spring draws near, orchids begin putting out new leaves and roots. This is an important time to meet the increased nutritional needs of your orchids.

Meeting Your Orchids’ Increasing Water and Fertilizing Needs 

Many orchids need less water and no fertilizer during the winter months. But now is the time to increase watering frequency and to begin fertilizing your orchids.

As temperatures rise, so does your orchids’ need for water. Both to the roots, by regular watering, and to the leaves, by water in the air – humidity. Be sure that you water (but don’t overwater) your orchids and that you provide about 50% humidity if growing orchids indoors.

Prepare Your Orchid to Bloom by Providing Adequate Light

Another important factor in growing healthy orchids is light. Light is important as plants convert light into energy. Good blooming depends on adequate light. And, overall plant health, including abundant flowers are enhanced by judicious fertilizing.

Excellent Orchid Care = Large Pseudobulbs

Another consideration is pseudobulbs which grow on many sympodial orchids (slipper orchids being an exception). During this period of active growth watch for the emergence of pseudobulbs. Fleshy full pseudobulbs, larger than last year’s pseudobulbs, are an excellent indicator of healthy orchids – and of new flowers to come.

Note: Phalaenopsis orchids are sympodial and do not produce pseudobulbs.

Winter Blooming Orchids to Keep Your Eye On

Winter bloomers such as Cymbidiums, Oncidiums, Zygopetalums, some Cattleyas, Dendrobium Nobile, and some Phalaenopsis orchids are in flower or are finishing up blooming. Soon these orchids will begin the active growth phase of the growth cycle by putting out new roots and leaves. As noted above, when orchids begin growing new roots, that is the ideal time to re-pot.

Spring/Summer Bloomers – Time to Train New Flower Stalks

Not all orchids are finishing up blooming. For orchids that bloom in the spring and summer, now is the time to begin training the flower stalks. To do this stake the stalks so that the flowers will be shown off to their greatest advantage. It is important to stake the stalk when it first begins to grow as the stalk will become more rigid and less pliable as time goes on. It is easy to snap a flower stalk if you wait too long. 

For orchids that need staking, such as the phalaenopsis, train the flower stalk so that it will begin to arch at the first flower on the stalk.

The opposite is true for slipper orchids, let the flower develop and bloom before staking. Otherwise, staking too soon may impede the development of the flower.

Overview: Spring Care for Orchids

As you clean up and clean out your orchids and prepare them for the coming year your orchids will benefit from your attentive care. 

Active growth is an important time as your orchid puts out new leaves, roots, and pseudobulbs – and prepares to flower. Additionally, staking flower stalks will help your orchids to look their very best.

See My Dendrobium Orchids that Bloom Winter to Spring

Here’s a peek at a few dendrobium orchids that have performed well for me throughout the winter and into spring. For happiness in a pot, check out these orchids. 

dendrobium phalaenopsis - spring blooming orchid

From winter to spring this dendrobium phalaenopsis, classic gem, just keeps popping out flower spikes.

spring orchid care - dendrobium

This dendrobium nobile from Trader Joe’s and had been a dependable bloomer. After purchasing, I immediately potted this orchid into a more suitable potting mix and it’s rewarded me with clouds of flowers.

roy tokunaga orchid - spring orchid culture

I LOVE this orchid, a Dendrobium hybrid Roy Tokunaga. I got this orchid when I first decided to branch out from growing phalaenopsis orchids. I’ve had it for many years and it has consistently bloomed. This is a fantastic beginner orchid.

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2 Comments
  1. Cecile Venter says:

    It is Spring at your place. But it is Autum in South Africa. What do I have to do in Autum?

    1. Anna says:

      Cecile,
      Thank you for your thoughtful question about fall care for orchids. First, wait to re-pot until spring. Second, as the days get colder, taper off fertilizing and reduce watering. For some orchids, those that go dormant – Dendrobium Nobile, for example – they will not need any water during the winter months. And lastly, like spring now is a good time to check for pests and disease.
      Best!
      Anna

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the ONE email you'll open every week

Saturday mornings I send out an exclusive email sharing my best tips on how to grow healthy orchids.

YES! THANK YOU!