Roots & Fertilizing

If you are unsure when to water your orchid for the first time, the orchid’s roots are a great indicator for watering. Roots also help keep your orchid in place as it grows and provide the plant with water and nutrients. Another way your orchid can receive essential nutrients is through fertilization. See below for specific questions and concerns pertaining to roots and fertilizing.

Signs of healthy vs. unhealthy roots:

Dry Roots Versus Wet Roots

Well-watered roots should be a healthy green color, while grayish-white roots indicate more water is needed.

Is this a root or do I have a new flower spike?:

New Spike

Flower spikes and roots grow from the base of the plant, so it is very difficult to tell them apart. When reblooming occurs, new flower spikes can grow between leaves and they will be dark green. New roots will stay a light green/gray color. You will know an orchid flower spike has formed when a root starts to grow upwards and the tip takes on the appearance of a mitten. In general, it will take 16 weeks for a bud to become visible on a new spike, so time will determine whether you are observing air roots or new spikes. Typically, a Phalaenopsis orchid will grow 1 to 2 flower spikes at a time. Your orchid may have produced air roots, which collect moisture and carbon dioxide from the air. However, it does not harm the orchid if there are roots growing outside of the pot.

What are air roots?:

Air Roots

Airborne roots are normal in Phalaenopsis and other epiphyte orchids. Unlike terrestrial orchids that root in the earth, epiphyte orchids grow above the ground, using their roots to attach themselves to tree branches – absorbing the moisture and carbon dioxide they need to thrive directly from the air. The growth of aerial roots sticking into the air, looping above the pot’s surface or creeping over the sides of the pot are perfectly normal for Phalaenopsis orchids.

Should I fertilize while my orchid is still blooming?:

Your orchid does not require fertilizer while blooming; however, if your orchid has been enjoying the fertilizer regiment, then you can fertilize your orchid during the blooming period once a month. The most important aspect of fertilizing your Just Add Ice Orchid is not to over fertilize, as it requires very little fertilizer in order to flourish.

When and what type of fertilizer should I use?:

After flowering, the orchid should be fertilized at least once every month with balanced fertilizer (20-20-20) at half the recommended rate. Do not water your orchid with ice on the weeks you fertilize it.

Can I make fertilizer cubes?:

Because safety is our highest concern, orchids should only be fertilized as per the instructions on the fertilizer packaging. We do not recommend making fertilizer cubes because of the risk of ingestion. To fertilize Just Add Ice Orchids, place your orchid in the sink with the drainage holes exposed. Water with the fertilizer solution until it starts to run out of the bottom of the pot. Be sure to let all the water leach out of the pot before placing back into the decorative pot. Fertilizer should be stored in a cool dry place away from children and pets. Follow all safety guidelines printed on the fertilizer container.

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