Spring is the time of year when orchids thrive. In many regions, increased sunlight and higher humidity can make maintaining orchid health even easier. However, spring comes with its own unique threats to orchid health.
Here are four springtime threats to orchid health and how you can keep yours lush and happy.
1. Increased sunlight
The same spring benefit we mentioned above can also double as a threat. Spring days are filled with more sunshine, and increased light is great for your orchid, but only when that light is indirect. Overexposure to direct sunlight can damage orchid leaves, causing dehydration and sunburn, which can result in premature bloom drop.
To ensure your orchid is getting the right amount of light, place it in the center of a well-lit room. You can also place your orchid behind a sheer curtain in a north- or east-facing window.
2. The return of bugs and pests
Warmer weather brings insects, which can cause real problems for your orchid. Spider mites, mealy bugs and scale insects are common orchid pests. Spider mites are greenish-yellow and make small webs on the underside of your orchid leaves. Mealy bugs are small, oval and white, and they coat your orchid with honeydew, which gives your plant a sticky feel. Scale insects resemble small white bumps on your leaves and flower spikes.
As a rule, you should check your orchid often in the spring for these pests. These natural remedies make it easy to keep these pests at bay. Keep in mind also that not all insects are orchid foes. Green lacewing larvae, for example, feast on many soft-bodied insects and mites like mealy bugs and spider mites.
3. Mesophyll cell collapse
The temperatures during the early spring season can be volatile, swinging wildly between the cold and mild temperatures. This is also the time of year when people turn their heat down, and colder nighttime temperatures invite mesophyll cell collapse.
Mesophyll cell collapse occurs after a Phalaenopsis’s leaves collapse due to extremely low temperatures — usually after a frigid night. Damage may occur after two hours of exposure to temperatures of 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the damage has set in, there is no cure, so prevention is crucial. Make sure that you place your orchid in a room that is between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit and away from drafts.
4. Forgetting fertilizer
When your orchid is resting, it requires the same TLC you would give it when it’s in full bloom. During the dormant phase, your plant is replenishing the energy and nutrients that it lost during blooming. If your orchid is resting, it’s crucial to remember fertilizer. Feed your orchid every other week with a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10 or 20-20-20) at half strength. Do not add ice to your pot on the weeks that you fertilize.
The new spring season ushers in its many benefits for your orchid, but it also comes with its own set of threats. Pay close attention to the four threats mentioned above to help keep your plant thriving throughout the season and beyond.
For more tips on caring for your orchid, visit our resources section.
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