For orchid lovers, their favorite time of the year is probably when their orchids are blooming. When that happens, many people do not want to disturb their orchids, apart from trying to grow as many flowers as possible and make them bloom longer.
Should we fertilize orchids or water them while they are blooming? Can we even repot them if we want to check the roots or change the media?
This article will answer all these questions about orchid care in the blooming stage.
1. Can I repot orchids while blooming?
The best time for repotting an orchid is generally said to be during the active growth stage when it is putting out new roots and leaves or right after it has finished blooming. The reason for this is that repotting can break the long flower stems or damage roots which would be stressful for the orchid and set it back in its growth.
Nevertheless, you should still repot your blooming orchid in the following situations:
- When the orchid has just been purchased from the store or nursery: The reason is that the orchids sold at the store have never been repotted since they were seedlings. Orchids from the store are most likely in a plug or the same moss for at least for 1 year or possibly 2 or more.
- When the orchid is gifted to you with an unknown history.
- When the orchid you want to repot has thick roots, such as Phalaenopsis: You should not worry about breaking their roots while repotting because their sturdy roots aremore resistant to breaking. If you are repotting orchids with thin roots, such as Oncidiums, you can still go ahead as long as you are careful during the process.
- When the roots show signs of root rot such as wrinkly and dehydrated leaves, dark mushy roots and when the moss is covered in green algae (easily spotted through a transparent pot), all of which are signs of too much moisture for an extended period of time. Many people buy orchids with such root and medium problems because they focus mostly on the flowers. Always pay attention to the root system, rather than the flowers, if you are interested in growing orchids for the long haul.
Would you trade a couple more weeks of bloom time with setting back an orchid for at least half a year and possibly missing the opportunity to bloom in the next blooming season?
If your orchid is in one of the above situations, I would not wait until the orchid has finished blooming and would repot right away.
After all, repotting does not necessarily affect orchids in bloom. Just be very careful to not break any flower stems.
2. Should I fertilize orchids while blooming?
Another common question is whether fertilizers should be applied while they are blooming, due to the belief that orchids stop growing when they are in bloom.
However, blooming orchids do continue to grow by putting out new shoots, new roots and need nutrients to maintain their blooms.
You can feed the orchids with a fertilizer high in phosphorous and low in nitrogen. Or, continue with the same fertilizer at half strength and a lower frequency.
So, when you should not fertilize orchids?
You should always feed your orchids at all times, more frequently (once a week) during growing season and less frequently (once every month) and at a lower strength when it is blooming and entering the dormant stage.
This is to mimic their natural habitat: When orchids enter the growing season, that is also when temperatures are higher and when there are more nutrients washed down from the decaying organic matter nearby; when the temperature drops, orchids begin to spike, slow down, and that is also when there is less rain and fewer nutrients available.
3. Should I water orchids while blooming?
Just like the need to be fed while blooming, orchids also need water to survive whether it is blooming or not.
What special things does nature do when orchids are blooming? No different. Orchids in bloom get watered during the rainstorms as before. And their roots also get dry in between the rainstorms.
So, do I need to water orchids more while blooming? No. Water as normal.
Check out this article to learn whether you should water from above or from below.
To sum up, orchid care is not particularly different even though the orchid is blooming. Even though it is blooming, you should repot it when there is a need, e.g. being a new addition to your collection with an unknown history, showing signs of root rot, etc.. You should feed orchids in bloom as well, despite in a lower dose and lower frequency. You should also water them as usual, drying out in between waterings.