Feeding Moth Orchids

As with all plants Orchids require nutrition, clearly with many thousand s of different species of orchids each will require their own particular form of care and attention, light levels, watering and nutrition will vary from species to species. For the purpose of this post I am only talking about the typical Phalaenopsis or more commonly known as moth, orchids because these are the most common orchids for beginners, widely available everywhere from DIY sheds, Ikea, garden centres and even small corner shops. Many People view orchids as some sort of exotic, tricky to grow plant, which is simply not true, or rather is not true of Moth Orchids. Orchids have traditionally been grown by specialty growers, producing flowers for the florist trade as well plants for the collectors. 

Phalaenopsis  'Las Palmas'

With any plant to get the best out you should consider their cultural requirements, Phalaenopsis orchids epiphytes, which essentially means they they grow on tree trunks, branches, rocks, and anywhere else they can get a hold. Their roots are mostly exposed to the air and as such Moth orchids do not grow up out of the soil like a typical terrestrial plant. 

The roots collect all the moisture and nutrients the orchid needs from the surrounding environment, for instance organic materials like rotten leaves, animal droppings, as well as mineral deposits in rainwater serve as to feed the orchid. 

For convenience, a slow release fertilizer with equal proportions of N-P-K (nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K)) (14-14-14) used as directed, works well with Phalaenopsis. However, most serious growers prefer to use a liquid plant food, again with equal parts of N-P-K, appled at the recommended rate every second time you water.During blooming season you might consider a blooming plant formula with elevated phosphorus levels (i.e. 10-30-20). During winter months you can reduce liquid fertilizer applications to once a month.

If in doubt remember, Orchids will do far better with too little fertiliser than with too much.

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