At Hana Tropicals we concentrate on the growing of orchids known as Dendrobium as the Hawaiian climate provides the perfect environment for the plants to grow. The Hawaiian-grown Dendrobium are available in a great variety of colors including yellows, lavenders, two-tones, pinks, purples and whites. As well as being beautiful decorative plants the orchid can also be used as an unusual ingredient in cooking. The majority of orchids are edible and flavors range from slightly floral to spicy and mildly bitter, they are also great for presentation. Orchids have always been a symbol of love, tenderness, joy and friendship and when cared for properly they are suprisingly easy to grow. Below are some handy tips to help you get the very best out of your plant.
Green thumb tips
When you bring a flowering orchid home, leave it in its plastic pot for easier watering. However you can hide the plastic pot in a prettier one and place it wherever you like.
To water your orchids, you can take the plant in its plastic pot out of the decorative pot and place it in the sink. Then run water over the plant until it drains through the drain holes. Let the pot sit in the sink for at least 30 minutes before returning it to the decorative pot.
As a general rule water the plant slightly more during an orchid’s growing season and slightly less while it is resting.
Many people swear by the “ice cube” watering method. Three (3) ice cubes per week seems to be just about the right amount of water. Orchids hate to stay consistently wet so the slow distribution of water from the ice-cube works well. The outside temperature or season should not dictate your watering practices, however if the orchid is placed in a very bright place where it gets lots of sunlight, the plant may need more that 3 ice cubes per week.
It is important to not let your orchid roots sit in water. Many orchids are air plants (epiphytes) and as such, draw moisture and nutrients from the air. A common mistake is to give orchids too much water, often the plant dies from over-watering as the roots rot and the plant literally drowns.
3. Air and Light
It is important to keep flowering orchids away from any air drafts. Do not let air conditioning blow on the plants.
Adequate light is essential to flower orchids and if a plant fails to flower this often indicates there is insufficient light. Orchids are suitable for windowsills, it is important to never expose the plant to direct sunlight.
Orchids need 50 percent humidity or more, to ensure this level you can mist the leaves. You can also place your orchids in the bathroom or on a kitchen ledge over the sink.
Another easier way to bring humidity to your orchids is to place them on a tray filled with pebbles and partially filled with water. The pebbles should provide support for the roots and should help to raise the plant so it is not submerged in the water.
When the roots are absolutely overflowing the pot OR you feel the medium in the pot has broken down too much, it may be time to repot. Take the orchid from its old pot and carefully remove ALL of the old potting medium from the roots. Prune off the dead roots if they feel mushy or are a sick, (unhealthy roots will often be a grayish color), ensure a reasonably sized root ball if left.
When pruning the roots of an orchid, be sure to use a sharp, kitchen scissors. It is recommended to dip the cutting portion of the scissors in 70% rubbing alcohol before every cut.
It is important to never over pot. When repotting, the pot should be sized for the root mass rather than the foliage. You may need a stake to hold the orchid plant upright until the roots grasp onto the medium in the pot.
When we repot at Hana Tropicals, we prefer to use a potting mixture of ½ orchid bark and ½ small stones, rinse both with water before use. It is very important not to use potting soil as this will retain water and rot the roots of the plant.
Holding the orchid firmly in the desired position in one hand, pour in the potting medium with the other hand.
Press down gently to stabilize the orchid in its new growing medium. Sometimes the eraser end of a pencil is useful for pushing the potting medium down around the roots.
After the re-potted plant has been given a few days to sit, run water through the orchid’s planting medium and let it drain for 30 minutes in the sink. After this has been done the plant is ready to be returned to its decorative pot.