All orchids need a very weak dose of fertilizer two or three times a month. Besides using commercial NPK fertilizers, there are also several ways to support plant growth through home remedies. Many orchid lovers use banana peels , rice water and other DIY fertilizers to improve the growth and hardiness of their orchids. Can you also fertilize orchids with tea? In this article you will learn all about the advantages and disadvantages of using tea bags as an orchid fertilizer.
Table of Contents
- Is tea good for orchids as a fertilizer?
- Fertilize orchids with tea: 3 proven methods.
Is tea good for orchids as a fertilizer?
When using various home remedies as additional fertilizer for orchids, one naturally wonders if they are effective in the long run. Is tea as a fertilizer good for orchids? Tea consists of 5% nitrogen, 2.5% potassium, 0.8% phosphorus, 0.6% calcium and 0.5% magnesium. This high nitrogen content has a particularly positive effect on soil condition. Tea is good for orchids also because of the high content of tannins, polyphenols and tannic acid.
Nitrogen in tea bags promotes orchid growth
Nitrogen is already present in commercial orchid fertilizers and is the first number in the three-digit ratio. As a rule, we use a balanced fertilizer, for example, with NPK ratio of 10-10-10. Once the roots have begun to grow and new leaves appear, higher nitrogen fertilization is required. Nitrogen accelerates the production of chlorophyll and ensures strong, healthy leaves.
Are tea bags safe for orchids?
The tea itself will not harm the orchid, but the bag it is made from can pose a risk. Most tea bags naturally dissolve over time and become part of the potting medium. Many vegetable growers use tea bags in their compost piles without any problems. The only thing to watch out for is the type of fabric or paper that the tea bag itself is made of. Some tea bags are made of paper, silk or polypropylene, a sealing plastic. You should definitely watch out for the third material, polypropylene, as it is made of plastic and is not biodegradable.
What tea should you use to fertilize the orchids?
Depending on what kind of PH your orchid prefers, you can choose between black tea, green tea and herbal tea.
Conventional tap water is alkaline, which is ideal for many bacteria. Black tea has a pH of 5.0 to 5.5, making it an excellent choice for lowering the pH of the potting medium.
If you have terrestrial orchids, such as Paphiopedilum, that prefer a higher alkaline pH, you should use green tea. It has a pH of 7 to 10.
If you are not sure which orchid you have or what pH it prefers, you should opt for an herbal tea such as chamomile or nettle, which is more neutral.
Fertilize orchids with tea: 3 proven methods.
1. soak orchid roots in tea.
For a really dehydrated orchid or one with a weak root system, you need to add as much nitrogen to the roots as possible. To do this, you need to remove the old potting soil, leaving only the healthy green roots, even if there are very few of them. Put a tea bag in a suitable vase and pour water to it. Let the tea steep only briefly until the color begins to change. Do not make a highly concentrated tea, because anything too much can kill the plant faster.
Place the orchid in the vase with tea during the day and take it out at night to air dry. The next morning, put it back in the vase with tea.
This method of fertilizing orchids with tea promotes the rapid formation of healthy, green roots. With healthy roots, your orchid can overcome dehydration, and the roots will absorb the water and nutrients it needs to become strong again.
The entire process takes about three weeks. Repeat the steps over and over, changing the water every three or four days.
2. spread the tea bag contents over the potting soil.
If your orchid is not dried out and the roots are healthy, but you want to give it an extra boost, the next method is for you. Cut open the already used tea bag and sprinkle the contents over the potting soil.
As you can imagine, this method provides a high concentration of nutrients all at once. Therefore, you can use it sparingly twice a year. When you water the orchid, the tea penetrates the orchid substrate.
The disadvantage of this method is that over time the tea decomposes the orchid soil. The first watering is well accepted, but after a month the remains of the tea are still in the pot. They lower the pH of the bark, which is good because orchids (most orchids except terrestrial) prefer a slightly more acidic potting medium, about 5.5 to 6.5 pH. But over time, this low pH can become harmful, so the roots in the pot begin to die. The bark decays due to the tannins contained in the tea.
We do not recommend this method, but we present it to you because you can read about it on the Internet. With the first and the third method, you can expect more positive results.
3. watering orchids with tea
Use a diluted tea or put an already used tea bag in a pot of water and let it steep. When you water your orchids with tea, lower the pH of the orchid soil and provide a higher concentration of nitrogen. In our opinion, this is the best method. You can also add a slice of lemon to the water, as lemon is a natural way to lower the pH of the water.
Tea is NOT a substitute for store-bought fertilizers with a balanced NPK ratio. If you want to fertilize your orchids with tea, keep this drawback in mind: You have no idea what is in your tea. Any company can add thousands of additives, flavors and aromas to enhance your tea enjoyment. Exactly how much nitrogen gets into your orchid? It’s hard to say. So try a small dose of tea and see how your orchid responds. It’s a process of trial and error. Whatever you do, don’t forgo the weekly fertilization with NPK.