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Light and Water to Care for Orchids

January 5, 2010

As discussed in the previous post, orchids need a balance of light, air, water and food to grow and flower well. These additional orchid tips, also from the article Orchids 101, can help keep your orchid in bloom for further enjoyment.


When caring for orchids, they need a lot of light to flower. If you have lush, green plants that produce no flowers, it may be due to lack of light. Many people try to re-create their mental image of orchids thriving beneath the dark, cool jungle canopy, but in reality, it seems they’ve evolved as epiphytes (plants that grow non-parasitically on other plants) to take advantage of the brighter light available in the upper reaches of the shaded environs.

Orchids grown under sufficient light will have lighter, somewhat yellow-green foliage and strong upright growths. You do want to make sure they’re not getting so much light that they burn, however.


Watering orchids with iceEach plant has different needs, depending on the humidity, air movement, potting medium (type and age) and light levels they experience. But you can tell if your potted orchid is almost dry. Here’s how:

Examine the roots, after watering the roots should take on a greenish appearance. However, as the orchid absorbs the water, the roots start look white or gray. If the roots of your orchid start to look completely white or gray before they are due for their next watering, go ahead and increase your ice cube amount to 4 ice cubes per week.

The potting medium should provide rapid drainage — as well as the air that orchid roots need — sphagnum moss or a commercial fir-bark-based potting medium are formulated to provide air and rapid drainage. Of course, our tip is to water your orchid with three ice cubes and just once a week which is sufficient for most home or office environments.


As far as fertilizer goes, orchids will grow and flower without fertilizer, but you'll achieve better results with a little bit. Once your Just Add Ice Orchid has finished flowering, try to fertilize at least once a month or every other week.

Purchase a balanced houseplant fertilizer and mix with water at half the recommended strength. When fertilizing, skip the 3 ice cubes that week and 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. Allow it to completely drain in the sink before moving it back to its original location.

Following these recommendations will keep your Just Add Ice Orchid happy and healthy, and hopefully a repeat bloomer!