At the end of the 19th century, flowering orchids were considered more precious and exotic than any other plant.
What was once an elite flower, rare and glamorous and known as the “plant of kings”, is now available to everyone as a fairly common houseplant.
Flowers can last up to 3 months with proper care. Today, orchids are often used as a substitute for fresh flowers, their lifespan being cheaper than buying new flowers every few weeks.
Unfortunately, like fresh flowers, they are often thrown away when they have finished blooming. Many think it will take a lot of time or work for them to bloom again.
But with proper care, this is not always the case.
Follow these care and maintenance tips and your orchid will continue to bloom year after year.
1. Give your orchid the right amount of sun
One of the most important factors in keeping orchids healthy (and therefore more likely to continue flowering) is sunlight.
A look at where they naturally grow gives an idea of what they prefer. Most houseplant orchids come from tropical forest areas where they grow as epiphytes.
They grow on the trunks of trees and receive more light than on the forest floor, but remain in the shade of the treetops.
Variation is also a factor, as different types of orchids require different amounts of light.
Of all the orchid species available, 75% of all orchids produced and sold are Phalaenopsis orchids. According to the American Orchid Society, this is the best type for growing indoors. They need bright, filtered light, but no direct sunlight.
Other species like dendrobiums, cattleyas and oncidiums need more sun. They need a bright windowsill where sunlight can filter through a curtain or an outdoor spot on a patio or balcony.
Cymbidium orchids can flower in about 8 weeks in a cool, well-lit place. However, it’s best to place them outside in a bright, shady spot once they’ve finished flowering. This encourages them to bloom again with careful watering and feeding.
Leaf Color vs Gloss Level
For many orchids, lack of light means poor growth, shorter flowering time and no reblooming. On the other hand, direct sunlight can also burn the plant.
Fortunately, the color of the leaf indicates how happy your orchid is in its current position.
Unlike many other houseplants, dark green is not the color you are looking for in an orchid. Take a look at these signs to better understand your orchid:
- White leaves or white spots – Intense or direct sunlight has burned and damaged the cells, causing them to die.
- yellow leaves – The light is too bright or there is a lack of nutrients.
- bright green – The ideal light that gives you a better chance of repeat flowering.
- Intense green – Enough light to keep the plant alive, but it may not flower again.
- Dark green – There is not enough light. The plant may survive, but makes up for it by producing thinner, shorter leaves and no flowers.
2. water properly
In addition to sunlight, watering is also essential for your orchid to bloom again.
The type of growing medium is usually a good indicator of how much water they need. Free-draining bark medium, the standard for store-bought orchids, requires more water to keep the roots hydrated. Soil mixes containing peat require less water because they retain more moisture than bark.
It is best to soak the orchids in a bowl of water for 5-10 minutes. This keeps them fully hydrated, rather than flushing out the roots and pulling them out of the drainage holes. Let them drain for at least 15 minutes before putting them back.
Orchids that are overwatered or underwatered will have difficulty reblooming. Never leave an orchid in water for too long and avoid wetting the leaves.
Instead of watering on a schedule, test the soil with your finger. If the soil is still saturated, leave it for a few more days. Try watering the day before the soil is completely dry for the ideal watering time.
You can also use a sharp pencil as a guide. Push the pointed end into the ground; if the graphite darkens, the soil has a lot of water. Take care not to damage the roots in the process.
3. Maintain high humidity
Humidity also influences flowering. Thanks to their tropical conditions, orchids need a lot of humidity to produce flowers, preferably around 60%.
In drier areas, add a layer of pebbles in a drip tray and fill with water to slightly increase the humidity. Make sure that the roots of the plants do not enter the water, because they quickly die.
It is not necessary to water the orchid, because the roots are the parts that absorb enough water for the plant to use it. Spraying them can temporarily increase humidity, but can also leave deposits on leaves and flowers that promote disease growth and stunting.
4. keep the temperature high
Tropical orchids like Phalaenopsis need high temperatures all year round to grow well.
The temperature should be kept above 60F to provide the right conditions for flowering. Below, the plant may stop growing and produce flowers.
At the other end of the spectrum, too high temperatures can also inhibit growth. Any temperature above 85 F for long periods dries out the roots and leads to heat stress.
Cymbidiums prefer different temperatures between day and night to flower well. It is therefore much more difficult for these orchids to bloom again indoors. It’s usually best to grow them on a patio or balcony and bring them indoors to enjoy when they start to flower.
Do not place your orchids in the path of drafts. It can also affect the temperature around the plant, making it too cold to flower. On the other hand, a light breeze is generally appreciated for air circulation in warmer areas.
The temperature and time of year will be your guide.
5. Make sure the roots have enough oxygen.
Oxygen does not necessarily help orchids bloom again. But it does prevent pests and disease from spreading, which helps overall health.
Make sure your orchids aren’t crowded and that they all have good air circulation. This is even more important in humid areas, as moisture builds up quickly around plants and attracts pests and diseases.
6. fertilize regularly
As with all potted plants, soil nutrients are depleted or washed out over time. Orchids in particular need an extra boost at the right time to grow well and produce flowers.
There is a common misconception that if you feed an orchid, it is guaranteed to bloom. Unfortunately, I wish it were that simple. In addition to fertilizer, a combination of light, water, temperature, and air circulation gives plants a better chance of blooming again.
Use a liquid orchid fertilizer designed to encourage flowering for best results. Give orchids a nitrogen-rich fertilizer every 2 weeks in spring and summer for strong growth. Switch to a potassium-rich fertilizer to promote flowering in the fall, applying once a month.
If you feed frequently, be sure to flush the pots with clean water every month to prevent a buildup of salts that can damage the roots. Use only the amount recommended on the package to avoid burning the roots and leaves.
7. Transplant at the right time
Using a specially formulated orchid mix for transplanting is essential for re-blooming.
It is best to repot orchids every 2-3 years to keep them healthy and thriving. Signs that a plant needs to be transplanted are lack of growth or poor growth and wilted leaves. Replant in the spring when new growth is expected.
Squeeze the pot to loosen the plant and carefully remove it. Shake off all old bark and dirt and cut off dead roots with clean, sharp pruning shears or sterilized pruners.
Choose a new pot carefully. Orchids prefer their roots full and tight in a pot that drains very well. Often you can reuse the same pot and just give your plant a change of soil.
Add the plant to the pot and hold it in place while you fill it with new orchid soil until it is snug. After transplanting, water to saturate the roots.
8. Perform post-flowering maintenance
Orchids use all their resources to send up those beautiful blooms and keep them bright for months. After that, they need time to recover their energy.
During the dormant period, many often discard the plant. But with a little care, orchids can live for many years and produce many more flowers.
Each type of orchid has a flowering cycle. It’s best to keep track of each one by labeling them so you know whether an orchid will bloom or not. Some bloom only once a year and others can bloom up to three times a year.
Remember that the time of bloom for a particular type of orchid is not necessarily when it was purchased from the store. These plants are grown in greenhouses and their growing seasons are manipulated to produce flowering plants all year round.
You will end up with a flower stalk when the flowers have died and fallen. At this point, you can prune the stem.
First cut the stem just above the nearest node, as this may encourage the formation of another stem. If no new stems appear and the original stem turns brown and brittle, cut it off at the base. New flower stalks will form from the base of the leaves over the next few months.