Archive for October, 2012

At one point, years ago, I was able to get one of my orchids to re-bloom.  I haven’t got a CLUE what I did that allowed that to happen.  It is one of the great mysteries of my life!

HOWEVER, I’m here to tell you that is also on my list of items on my steep learning curve.  I had a question from someone the other day about orchid care.  Like me, they were a bit puzzled why their orchids never re-bloomed.  So, I’m on a quest!

Here is one article about orchid care from the gentleman who is the Perennial Plants guru at the University of Vermont.  It has a lot of information, but it does not really delve into the technique of getting that elusive re-bloom.  But it’s a good place to start.

My next link is to Clemson University Extension that is a little more informative.  It talks about different varieties of orchids and a bit more about humidity, and fertilizing, etc.

Here’s an article from a University of Minnesota Graduate Student that is fabulous.  It includes a ton of other information, which doesn’t relate to orchids, but the second article  is all about Moth Orchids.  It is FULL of information that is helpful!

Needless to say, reading all this information allows me to be able to tell you what to do, but at this point I haven’t seen it work on my own plant.  I’ll have to be VERY patient.  That’s one of the points made over and over.  It sometimes takes over a year for an orchid to re-bloom!

For those of you residing at Horizon House, I asked Cathy (at the front desk) if she’d consent to meeting with us to give us a few “tips”.  She said yes, IF she could get away from the desk for a little while.  SOOOO…  I’m going to try to line up a little “Bring Your Orchid To Class” meeting for next week.  Stay tuned.  I’ll try to get a room; post the meeting time in the elevators, and make a note on the mailing list.  More than likely I won’t get it into the Alert, because of lack of time.  At any rate, bring your troublesome orchid, or any orchid for that matter, and we’ll trouble shoot together.

At this point, Cathy says it’s simple.  She gives her orchids TWO ICE CUBES a week and NEVER cuts off the blooming stem after it has finished blooming!

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I have begun taking an internet house plant course.  I’m still on a steep learning curve.  Remember you can come along with me as you wish.  I’ll share what I learn that I think is useful, and “feed” it to you gradually.  These little lessons will be interspersed with other things I find of interest, like “Air Scrubber” plants, which I think are fascinating!

This morning, I’ve learned a bit about fertilizing house plants.

  • First:  don’t overdo!
  • Don’t fertilize in the winter when your plant is taking a nap!
  • Do fertilize when it is actively growing and flowering (if it flowers).   This is usually spring to autumn.
  • Liquid fertilizer, or fertilizer that has been dissolved in water, is probably the best way to accomplish this task.  You water and feed all at the same time, making life a bit easier.  It is also a bit easier for the plant to absorb.
  • I read somewhere that a good guideline of when to fertilize a plant is when it grows a new leaf!  That makes sense…

One of the “carry overs” from outdoor gardening is the labeling of fertilizer.  Every fertilizer has three chemical “tags”.  They are N-P-K and labeled as three numbers like: 10-5-5, or 20-20-20, or 9-20-5, etc.

  • N is for nitrogen and is the “green, or leaf maker” (the first number)
  • P is for phosphates or the “root” feeder (the second number)
  • K is for K2O or potash.  It feeds the flower making part of the plant. (the third number)

If your plant doesn’t flower…you surely won’t need much of the “K” part!  But,  all plants need N & P and the K won’t hurt at all!  What about African Violets and Orchids?  You figure it out!  🙂

Unlike outdoor plants which can send roots down into the soil in search of more nutrients, a potted plant isn’t able to do that, so it will need your help.  If you have just potted it using potting compost, or you just purchased it from the garden center, it is probably set for a month or two because of the built in natural fertilizer in the soil, but after that time, it will need some additional food.

If your pot, or the top of the soil IN the pot, has white crust anywhere, it would indicate that you are being too generous with the fertilizer.  Stop fertilizing for awhile and SOAK that plant in water.  It would probably be good to also just pour water gently, but generously, into the pot allowing it to drain out of the bottom.  Keep the plant in your sink while you do this.  It will be a bit messy!  This will help to wash some of the excess fertilizer out of the soil.

Try to remember not to over fertilize.  Next to over-watering, this is just about the worst thing you can do to your plants.

You should remember that often the directions will grossly exaggerate how much fertilizer your plant needs.  The producer would like you to use it up quickly and come back for more.  If you follow those instructions, you will be over fertilizing, so go easy!  Use LESS than suggested, and DO NOT FERTILIZE in the winter when the plant is resting!

Here is an additional link that may help with your Houseplant Fertilizing.  It’s from the Univ. of Illinois Extension Service.

Did that help any?  Happy Gardening!

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