How-To: Orchid Potting + Care

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An unusual pot with a special purpose recently joined our Earth Fired Clay collection -- its hole-punched design is made specifically to meet the needs of orchids. With a high-maintenance reputation, orchids can seem daunting to cultivate, but their beautiful blooms are just right for brightening the winter home. We asked Amelia B. from our greengoods team to tell us more about this unique pot, and how we can help our orchids flourish. Read on to find her care tips for one of our favorite orchid varieties, the Phalaenopsis above.

Orchid Basics
Native to tropical regions, most orchids are epiphytes -- this means that they grow atop another plant, and gather nutrients from the rain, air, and dust in the atmosphere around them. Due to these unique growing conditions, orchids prefer ample oxygen available to their roots. So you commonly see orchids, particularly Phalaenopsis, with their roots sticking out of the pot. A plump, silvery appearance to the roots is a sign of a healthy plant. The pot above is designed so oxygen can easily reach the roots of your orchid, and allows the soil to dry out between waterings.

Potting Tips
The best growing media for an orchid is something coarse that provides plenty of aeration. An ideal blend is sphagnum moss mixed with pine or fir bark. If your orchid needs to be transplanted, the best time is right after it has finished blooming. To transplant, start by cutting the old flower stalk off at the base. Take the orchid out of its existing container and remove as much media from the roots as possible -- don't worry, they can handle some tough love. The more media you can remove from the roots, the better. Fill your new planter about halfway with clean, new media and put the orchid in place. Make sure that enough roots are anchored in the media to keep the plant stable, but allow any roots that want to hang out of the planter to do so. Fill the rest of the pot with media and make sure the orchid is situated so that the base of the plant is within the top 2" of the pot.

Watering
Incorrect watering is one of the most common reasons that an orchid will decline. All varieties have different preferences; Phalaenopsis like to be watered once a week. There are two ways to determine if your orchid needs water. You can judge based on the weight of the container, or use a finger to test the moisture level of the media and roots. A container that is light or dry to the touch means it’s time for water. To ensure a good, thorough watering, make sure to soak the media until you see water draining from the bottom drainage hole. To do this easily, place your orchid directly into a sink or similar vessel. Once watered, place your orchid back onto a dry saucer, as orchids never like to sit in standing water. 

Reblooming
One of the most common orchid questions is, "How do I get my orchid to rebloom?" To encourage new blooms, place your plant in an area of the house with nice morning light -- an eastern-facing window works well. The space should also have overnight temperatures that are around 10-15 degrees cooler than daytime temperatures. These conditions will initiate your Phalaenopsis to bloom after a period of rest. 

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