Guide to Orchid Fertilizer
By Rex Henson
To flourish beautifully, orchids need fertilizer. Though they generally need less compared to other house plants, the fertilizer you add is what makes your orchids healthier and bloom more abundant flowers. Take note though that too much fertilizer can also be harmful to your plants, so you really need the right balance to achieve the best results. Here's a guide to help you on fertilizing your orchids well.
There's a saying among orchid growers of "weakly weekly" that pertains to orchids fertilizer. This means that you only need to add fertilizer once a week and use half or even less of the amount that is recommended on the label, depending on the strength of the fertilizer you're using. Generally, when you use a standard 20-20-20 fertilizer, use it at a quarter strength, while if you use a 10-10-10 fertilizer, use it half strength.
Not all fertilizers are the same, so choose wisely when picking one. Check the label and see if it contains the major elements that your plants need, which are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, and also all the minor nutrients like boron, calcium, chlorine, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, sulfur and zinc. It is also recommended that you use a fertilizer that is low or free of urea, since urea is not a readily available source of nitrogen for your orchids.
If you think that adding more orchids fertilizer to your plants would make them bloom even better, think again. Overfeeding can cause harm to your orchids. Since most synthetic fertilizers are composed of mineral salts, they can accumulate over time in your pot and potting media, which is not good for your plants. It is recommended to water your plants once a month with distilled water to flush out mineral build up.
For your orchids, synthetic or inorganic fertilizer is best used since they contain highly soluble minerals that are readily absorbed by your plants. Organic fertilizers still need to undergo decomposition by bacteria so that their nutrients can be received by the plants, and since orchids use potting media that do not readily decompose, this makes them unsuitable for orchids.
In addition to orchids fertilizer, some orchid growers like to add nutrient supplements to boost flowering. These are specifically combined macro and micronutrients that are supposed to enhance flowering. This is not really recommended for the amateur home gardener as adding too much may cause more harm than good. Also, different orchid varieties flower at different times and have different requirements, so a good, well-balanced orchids fertilizer is enough to induce growth and flowering.
Rex is the editor of OrchidsHowToGrow.com, a free resource on how to grow orchids. To know more about orchids fertilizer and how to grow beautiful, vibrant orchids, visit www.OrchidsHowToGrow.com.
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