Five ‘common mistakes’ that quickly ‘kill’ orchids – how to avoid

The Home Depot describes how to care for orchids

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Orchids are delicate houseplants that need to be cared for carefully in order to thrive – from how much water they need to their light requirements. If your orchid is showing signs of distress, don’t panic. There are a few key ways your care routine might be accidentally killing your orchid, and most of them are easily remedied. Below, orchid experts at Orchid Resource Center have shared the five “common orchid care mistakes” that can quickly kill your orchid and how to avoid them so you can watch your plant “thrive for years to come”. 

1. Your orchid is positioned in direct sunlight

Most houseplants, like succulents, enjoy full sunlight and thrive when they’re positioned on south-facing windowsills. Orchids, however, are quite sensitive to direct light conditions, so it’s easy to “accidentally kill an orchid” by putting it in a sunny spot, according to the pros. 

They advised: “When positioning your orchid, keep in mind that in the wild, orchids grow under thick tropical canopies and enjoy dappled sunshine. 

“It’s best to position your orchid in a room with ample indirect light so your plant can soak up vital sun rays without becoming damaged.”

If your orchid’s leaves are turning red or appear bleached, simply move the plant to a spot a few feet back from the window. 

If the damage is minimal, the plant will “quickly begin the healing process” and “boast thick green leaves in no time”. 

2. The environment is too cold

In the right temperature conditions, orchids grow and bloom effortlessly. But in an environment that’s too cold, orchids can “suffer stunted growth and wilting blooms”. 

If an orchid is showing signs of distress, consider moving it to a warmer spot, but be sure to avoid positioning the houseplant next to heating vents or radiators. The pros noted: “Generally, the optimal temperature for an orchid is between 16 to 24 degrees.”

It is advised to check the temperature needs of your orchid type before making permanent adjustments. For some orchid types, moving the orchid to a cooler room at night, such as a basement, can “promote plant growth and stimulate bloom”. 

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3. Not using a humidity tray

Most orchids are tropical or subtropical varieties and enjoy rainforest conditions. This means maintaining proper humidity levels should be a part of your orchid care routine. 

The experts said: “If your orchid’s leaves start curling inward or its blooms unexpectedly drop, consider misting your plant lightly and keeping it on top of a full humidity tray. Your plant will absorb the moisture in the air through microscopic stomata pores along its leaves and return to its healthy state quickly.”

Plant owners can buy a humidity tray for their orchid, or they can make their own with a saucer and a handful of stones or pebbles. 

4. Watering orchids too often

According to the experts, overwatering is the “number one way to accidentally kill your orchid”. Like most epiphytic plants, orchids have unique root systems that are highly susceptible to root rot and if its roots are compromised, it “can’t absorb vital nutrients” from its potting mix. 

As a general orchid-watering rule, the orchid pros recommended always erring on the side of under-watering. 

Keeping an eye on the root system and if the orchid’s roots are turning brown or appear mushy, then it’s a sure sign the houseplant is being watered too much. 

For those who overwater their orchid, it will drop its buds, and it may be close to dying. 

It’s important to trim off any mushy roots, repot the plant into fresh well-draining orchid potting mix and pull pack on the watering routine.

5. Using a multipurpose garden fertiliser 

Like all plants, orchids need food and nourishment to bloom and thrive indoors. But regular fertilisers can be “too harsh” on an orchid’s delicate root system and can “easily burn your plant”.

The gurus advised: “The best orchid fertiliser will use a gentle formula specifically designed for orchid care. Look for an orchid fertiliser that’s gentle enough to be safely applied every time you water.”

For plant owners looking for the perfect orchid fertiliser, the expert recommended using Baby Bio Pour & Feed Liquid Plant Food. The standard orchid fertiliser ratio is diluted so owners can safely fertilise their orchid at every watering without burning its roots. 

The fertiliser spray is formulated to supply the correct nutrients to orchids and requires no mixing or measuring. The pros added: “Just spray and watch those blooms explode.”

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