Orchid Care – Getting Your Orchids Ready for Spring

Many orchids including cattleyas, phalaenopsis (moth orchids), cymbidiums, and paphiopedilums (slipper orchids) will bloom in the spring. If your plants are setting buds, or already in bloom, keep them well watered and do not change their growing conditions drastically. You’ll get nice full flowers that last for their full potential; for phalaenopsis, this could be as long as three months!

Spring is an excellent time a good time to repot your orchids in fresh mix as it gives the orchid plant time to get established before the more stressful heat of summer. It also helps the plant be prepared to “get on” with the work of growing, once warmer brighter weather arrives. If your orchids are blooming, wait for the flowers to fade before repotting. For the rest, look for vital signs that your plants are emerging from rest/dormancy and getting ready to grow.

The two most important signs are new growth (new pseudobulbs and/or leaves) and new roots (white with green tips) in the spring. This is your cue to repot your plants. Repot when the roots are about half an inch long, as it will be easiest to do so at this stage, without damaging the roots. Remember, an orchid is only as good as its roots. Strong root growth is needed if your orchid is to thrive and bloom. If your orchid doesn’t seem inclined to respond to the longer days and warmer temperatures of spring by producing new growths and roots, that’s OK. Look to see if the mix is mushy, crumbly, or stays wet for long periods. If it is, then it is definitely time to repot. In any case, it’s a good idea to repot your orchids every 12-18 months at a minimum. Use a potting mix best suited to your orchid. Specialty mixes are available at garden centers and usually consist of fir bark or coconut husk, often with perlite and other additives to improve drainage. Do not use standard houseplant potting mix for your orchids.

Orchid nurseries and growers will also start shipping plants soon. This is an excellent time to build your collection. Buy blooming size plants this spring, and they will also have a whole season of growth ahead of them before rewarding you with flowers later this year.