How to Get Orchid Plants to Bloom

My orchid plant get lots of leaves but NO flowers. What am I doing wrong???

Hi Alice,

There are several things orchids need in order to bloom.

Water: Not too little and definitely not too much! Over watering is the main reason orchids die; it is also one of the reasons orchid buds drop off. Most orchids need to dry out between watering and they should never sit in water. It is more difficult to over- water an orchid if it is growing in special orchid medium. The amount of water that an orchid needs is influenced by the pot size, the potting medium, the temperature in the room, air circulation, and humidity. Roots turn brown from too much water. Sadly, leaves become wrinkled from both too much and too little water.

Light: Not enough light is often the reason orchids do not bloom again but there is a delicate balance; not too little and not too much. Knowing your orchid variety helps determine how much light it needs. Dendrobium, cattleya, and cymbidium orchids need quite a bit of bright indirect lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light.. Full sun burns the leaves and suppresses flower bud development on most orchids. Like many other flowering plants such as gardenias, orchids need several hours of nighttime darkness for the buds to set. Never leave lights on all night in a room that contains orchids, or buds will never form.

Temperature: Each variety has its own optimal temperature,  but orchids bloom better when the temperature at night is 10 degrees cooler than the temperature during the day.

fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small.: I find that feeding “weakly” “weekly” is a good plan. That means diluting the plant food to 1/3-1/4 the recommended strength and using it weekly. Always use a plant food made for orchid plants, never use any fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small. that contains urea.

Container: When an orchid gets too big for its container the planting medium starts to break down. Planting medium also breaks down when it gets old; this prevents air circulation around the roots which is vital for the plant to grow well and produce flowers. Some orchid varieties may not bloom for 6 months after re-potting.

Hope this helps!

 

Learn about common houseplants that are considered poisonous and should be kept away from pets and children in Don’t Feed Me To Your Cat! A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants

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