Whether you’re growing a summer vegetable garden, caring for hanging baskets on your porch, or keeping your indoor succulents happy, the right fertilizer can be a powerful tool to nourish your plants. Fertilizers encourage quick plant growth, help your plants ward off bacteria and disease, and give your plants the vital minerals they need to boast big, beautiful blooms and maintain rich green leaves. It’s no surprise, then, that using an orchid fertilizer is one of the best ways to keep your orchids happy and healthy year-round. So, how often should you fertilize an orchid?
But before you’re ready to add an orchid fertilizer to your plant care routine, you should know that fertilizing your orchid requires a different approach from fertilizing your other houseplants.
Today, we’re answering your most common questions about orchid fertilizers so you can get clear on exactly how often you should fertilize your orchid, what type of orchid food is best, and how to tell if you’re feeding your orchid too much.
Question 1: How often should you fertilize an orchid?
The key to fertilizing your orchid is to do it consistently. If you use a dose of fertilizer every few months, your plant won’t get a consistent supply of rich minerals and may become undernourished. On the other hand, when you establish a regular feeding routine, your orchid will thrive.
The intervals between feedings will vary depending on the fertilizer you’re using. Some orchid fertilizer brands suggest feeding your plant once a week, while others suggest feeding once a month.
Professional Tip: Keep it simple when it comes to feeding your orchid. To establish an easy-to-maintain feeding routine, choose an orchid fertilizer that’s safe to use every time you water.
Question 2: How can I tell if my orchid is getting too much fertilizer?
Over-fertilizing is an easy way to accidentally kill your plant, and it’s perhaps the number-one reason beginner growers avoid using fertilizers. Generally, orchids fare better with too little fertilizer rather than too much.
Your orchid’s root system is delicate, and fertilizer products contain varying ratios of acidic nutrients. Too much fertilizer can burn your orchid’s roots and damage its ability to absorb nutrients altogether.
Professional Tip: Use an orchid fertilizer that’s beginner-friendly. Avoid products that require complicated dosing procedures like mixing, measuring, or diluting. It’s easy to overfeed your orchid if the instructions are too complicated.
Question 3: How can I tell if my orchid isn’t getting enough fertilizer?
One of the easiest ways to tell that your orchid is undernourished is by examining its blooms. If your orchid’s flowers are wilting during bloom season, or within three weeks of purchasing, your plant is trying to tell you that it’s thirsty or nutrient-deprived. After a good drink and a dose of orchid food, your orchid’s flowers should appear full and healthy.
Other signs your orchid isn’t getting enough fertilizer are yellowing leaves, wrinkled foliage, or limp stems.
Professional Tip: If your orchid is suffering from any of the above symptoms after you apply fertilizer, it may be a sign something else is off. For more tips on how to master orchid care, check out our article “Orchid Fertilizer: Master Orchid Feeding With These 4 Must-Know Tips.“
Question 4: Will orchid fertilizer help my plant bloom?
Like all plants, orchids need light, water, and nutrients to bloom. A steady feeding routine will surely help your plant sprout new buds and support big blooms.
Keep in mind, though, that orchids aren’t heavy feeders. Their root systems are complex and delicate, unlike the root systems of other, more traditional houseplants. Regular fertilizers can be too harsh and burn your plant, so the best orchid fertilizer will be gentle and specially designed for your orchid.
Professional Tip: If your orchid isn’t blooming after you’ve properly fertilized it, you may want to examine other aspects of your orchid care routine. For additional resources, check out our article “The Top 8 Reasons Why Your Orchid Isn’t Blooming.”
Question 5: Is there a best time of day to fertilize my orchid?
Generally, it’s best to water indoor plants in the morning. Water runoff will evaporate quickly during the daytime hours when the sun is high in the sky and the day reaches its highest temperature. If you water your orchid at night, the runoff will sit in the plant’s pot overnight, which may encourage root rot—a condition orchids are prone to.
Professional Tip: Be sure to place your orchid on top of a humidity tray so excess water doesn’t sit in its pot. If you’re on a budget, you can make your own humidity tray out of a saucer and some small pebbles.
Question 6: Can I use regular plant fertilizer on my orchids?
Because orchids have unique root systems, they require a delicate fertilizer. If you opt to use a fertilizer that’s designed to nourish vegetable plants or other outdoor plants, you’ll risk burning your plant’s roots.
Your plant will thrive with a fertilizer that provides nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, though too much of any one nutrient can overwhelm your plant. The best orchid fertilizer will have a gentle, well-balanced formula so it doesn’t burn your orchid’s roots or damage your plant from the inside.
Professional Tip: If you’re looking to give your orchid a boost, use a Root Supplement to fortify your orchid’s roots and ensure it’s able to absorb the nutrients in your plant fertilizer.
Use Houseplant Resource Center’s Premium Orchid Food
If you’re worried about how often you should fertilize your orchid or you’re looking for a gentle orchid feed that takes the guesswork out of nourishing your plant, Orchid Resource Center has a product that’s perfect for you.
Premium Orchid Food lets you grow beautiful, exotic orchids with ease. This product checks all the boxes. It’s gentle, easy to apply, and it won’t burn your orchid’s roots.
Here are a few of the features that make Premium Orchid Food the go-to fertilizer for supporting your orchid plants:
- Easy application: The pre-mixed spray acts as a root stimulator for plants to improve their ability to use nutrients. This is especially important for young plants.
- Special formula: Sea kelp extract and humic acids address the unique needs of your orchid. With regular use, you’ll see healthy and vibrant orchids that grow larger year after year.
- Safe to use at every watering: The standard orchid fertilizer ratio is diluted, so it’s gentle enough to use at every watering without burning your orchid’s roots.
- It works with many orchid varieties: Premium Orchid Food is compatible with many indoor varieties, including phalaenopsis, epidendrum, Miltonia, cattleya, vanda, cymbidium, and oncidium.
For best results, simply use Premium Orchid Food every time you water. Then sit back and watch your orchid’s blooms explode.