I Swear Your Orchid Isn't Dead Yet
Written by Libby Hockenberry
So I have to say that over the years I have found a common theme among orchid owners. It's something that constantly bugs me and if you know me well enough, you've probably heard me reprimand someone for throwing away their "dead" orchid. I don't know who is responsible for spreading this particular propaganda about this beautiful and fascinating plant, but it seems to be a widespread problem. If you haven't guessed what I'm talking about by now then allow me to explain and hopefully I can save a few little orchid lives in the process!
So many people have come into my home and complimented my blooming orchids and made the statement, "Dang, I brought mine home and it died like the next week! What am I doing wrong?!" My follow up question to this is always the same thing - "by died, you mean...the blooms fell off?" The answer to that is always, "well...yeah." I find this to be really fascinating because nowhere in nature do we assume a plant has died when its blooms fall off....it's just the orchid. I know it can be frustrating to bring that beautiful blooming beauty home and have it lose all of its pretty flowers within a week, but I promise that with a little love and attention (and by that I mean VERY little) your orchid will definitely bloom again and again and again and again!
I've had the two lovely little yellow orchids pictured above for about five years now and they have faithfully bloomed around Valentine's Day every year since...like clockwork. If I had to choose a favorite out of all my plants in our house, I think the orchid definitely wins. It was one of my first plants I ever got and I've had a fascination with them for years...spanning back to my college days. For my senior art show at GA State I did a sculpture project where I made 14 different types of hand forged metal orchids mounted on exotic wooden plaques. The entire install was pretty neat and highlighted the fact that the orchid is such an exotic and strong flower, but at the same time one of the most delicate. It's blooms can last for months at a time, however if moved to a different spot (I'll get into that in a sec) then they can all fall off within a day. So fascinating to me!
Anyways, enough ranting about my obsession - here are some tips for you to keep your orchid healthy and happy and blooming for many years to come.
Steps to Orchid Success:
- Bring it home and find a sunny window with lots of light.
- Orchids actually like to be watered frequently so give it a healthy amount of water once or twice a week depending on the season.
- If the blooms do fall off, DON'T THROW IT AWAY! Simply cut the stalk off near the base of the soil. When it's ready to bloom again it will shoot a new stalk up from the base!
- Orchids really don't like to be moved so this is usually the reason why all of their blooms fall off once you get them home. It shocks their system and causes them to freak out a little so if you find a spot that makes it happy - don't move it. Mine have sat in the same spot the entire time I've lived in my loft.
- Another misconception is that you need to repot your orchid once you get it. I've never done this. If you put it in a larger pot, it makes the plant think it needs to fill it up with roots so it spends all it's time producing roots instead of blooms. If you leave it "root bound" in a sense, it forces all of it's new growth out of the top which makes those pretty blooms pop out! Also, if the roots start growing out of the pot this is ok - they have aerial roots - which means they are coated in a protective substance which allows them to draw nutrients from the air instead of the soil.
- You can buy orchid food from any nursery. I feed mine once every two weeks which also helps with the blooming process. It's super easy, you can either buy the pre made stuff that you just mist onto the roots and leaves or the kind you dilute in water. I think it really helps. Just like how we take vitamins!
So these are all of my tricks for keeping orchids alive and healthy. I hope I answered any questions you may have had! I would LOVE to see your orchids so please share them on Instagram and use the hashtag #botanicalswithlibby. Seriously, I wanna see them! And remember....it's not dead!