For pretty much any plant, it is true that it can only thrive if it is provided with sufficient nutrients. And this is no different with the popular orchid. Not only the right orchid fertilizer plays a major role here, but also the timing and, of course, the frequency. Are you still a beginner when it comes to orchid care and would like to learn more about the nutrient supply of these plants? We explain the most important things about “when to fertilize orchids and how often”!
Table of contents
Fertilizer is important for good care
Plants need plenty for your growth and of course for a lush bloom. More precisely, it is the following nutrients that the orchid needs:
- Potassium boosts metabolism and makes plants more resistant to disease and pests
- Calcium is needed by the cells
- Magnesium is responsible for the green coloration
- Phosphorus supports the formation of flowers and the growth of roots
- Nitrogen is needed by the green parts of the plant to grow, i.e. the leaves and shoots.
Special orchid fertilizers provide the plants with everything they need, but if you want to care for them with homemade fertilizer, pay attention to these nutrients. For example, calcium can be administered through water in which eggshells have rested for some time (or use the cooled cooking water of eggs). You can fertilize orchids with coffee grounds, which will provide them with potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen, among other nutrients. For more variations, see this article . How often and when to fertilize orchids, we explain below.
How often and when to fertilize orchids
Orchids are weak growers. So they don’t need regular applications of fertilizer throughout the year, as some claim. Instead, focus on the growing phase, which includes the flowering phase.
When to fertilize orchids?
For most orchid species, the orchid’s growing phase begins in the spring and continues through the fall. In winter, it then takes a rest period, during which it also does not need additional nutrients. Accordingly, you do not need to fertilize your orchids in the winter. Only watering you should remember. And from when do you fertilize orchids again?
You can tell that the dormant period is over when the plant starts to form new plant parts, be it a stem, a leaf or even flowers. Now your nutrient needs are very high, because it needs the strength to grow well. For this reason, it is important that you fertilize orchids during flowering.
Fertilize orchids – How often?
Now that you know the right period, the only question that remains is “how often to fertilize orchids”? Every two weeks is perfectly sufficient to administer liquid fertilizer. Since watering is usually done at the same rhythm, you can combine both care measures during the growth phase by adding the liquid fertilizer to the watering or dipping water. If the water requirement is higher during the summer and you have to dip the plant every week, simply always skip the fertilizer application once every two weeks.
Note: Rod fertilizers, which gradually provide plants with nutrients for up to 3 months, are not suitable for these plants due to your substrate being too coarse and porous. Also, the sticks need moisture to release all the nutrients, which is limited by the permeable bark of the orchid substrate. For this reason, liquid fertilizer is a better choice. However, it is important to always dilute the fertilizer and not put it on the substrate!
When to fertilize orchids after repotting?
After you have repotted an orchid and provided it with new substrate, it surely needs a new helping of nutrients, doesn’t it? Not at all, at least not during the first four to six weeks. During this time, the plant must first get used to the new circumstances. After this time, you can continue with the usual routine, as already described.
The so-called foliar fertilization
There are special fertilizers that are designed to supply the orchid with nutrients through the leaves. This brings the advantage that the plants are also supplied with moisture in the process, which is close to the humidity of their natural home. Especially orchid species that are not kept in substrate, such as Vanda, benefit from this type of fertilizer, but not only. Dilute the agent as indicated in the manufacturer’s description. Then you can use the solution to spray the leaves and roots of the orchids throughout the year, but not the flowers . It is also important that you do not do this in sunlight, otherwise the leaves and roots may burn.
How to properly care for orchids? You can learn about this, among other things, in this article . Furthermore, we have many other articles, such as how to properly handle the aerial roots, what to do after flowering and what yellow leaves mean.