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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.

spring orchid culture

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Spring Cleaning

Take time to clean up your orchids. Clean 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:

  • 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.

Keep an Eye on Winter Bloomers

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. When orchids begin growing new roots, that is the ideal time to re-pot.

New Roots Signal That Spring Is a Great Time to Pot Orchids

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.

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. 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.

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.

As temperatures rise, so do 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.

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.

Spring/Summer Bloomers – Time to Train New Flower Stalks

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.

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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!