Fender’s thoughts on fertilizer

Here are some fertilizing tips to help you take advantage of what Mother Nature is giving us.

Pot. Neon Sky
Pot. Neon Sky

Fertilizers for Your Orchids

All of this burst of energy in our orchids is in preparation for their next bloom season. Take advantage of what Mother Nature is giving us and fertilize correctly in the spring. New growth on your orchids and stronger root systems mean you’ll enjoy more and better flowers when they
bloom. That is the goal, right?

So early in this spring’s growth cycle, we have learned to increase the Nitrogen (N) in our fertilizer schedule.  Nitrogen is the first number in a fertilizer formula. We use a bark growing-medium, so using a fertilizer like 30-10-10 or 20-2-20 (or any fertilizer formulation with 20 or 30 as the first number) works well to promote even more new growth to help Mother Nature do her wonders.

Fertilize with this high Nitrogen fertilizer two or three times in the spring.  Then go back to the fertilizer you normally use.  When customers ask us what type of fertilizer they should use in general, we tell them “Whatever is on sale!”  The most important factor is not the brand of fertilizer you use but rather your diligence in fertilizing on a regular basis:  once a week weakly or once every two weeks; even once a month.

We also use Epsom Salts (Magnesium sulfate) for our orchids. Sufficient Magnesium is not normally available in most fertilizers. But it is necessary because it makes your orchids function more efficiently.  Sprinkle one teaspoon to one tablespoon on the top of the orchid’s potting mix and water in.  Or add it to your liquid fertilizer solution at the rate of one teaspoon to one tablespoon per gallon.

Another essential nutrient always missing in the usual fertilizers is Calcium (Ca).  Calcium, like magnesium, is required in large amounts but these chemicals do not play well with others in normal fertilizer mixtures.

The easiest and most efficient way to supply both Magnesium and Calcium is to use a Cal-Mag Fertilizer like 16-3-16 +CA +Mg. This is our “go to” fertilizer in the summer during rapid growth and in the Fall for phals.  This blend we use separately from all other fertilizers.

Be sure to water your orchids thoroughly when you do water or fertilize. And pay attention to those roots hanging outside of the pots. They need nutrition and water also because they are supporting the plant’s new growth.

Spring is also a great time to expand or upgrade your orchid collection. It is an excellent time to purchase smaller orchids because they will grow well throughout the spring and summer for you and will be in great shape for the fall and winter season.  Of course, smaller orchids are usually less expensive so you can purchase more!

Our orchids in 3 inch pots are large enough to be repotted into 4 inch, 5 inch, even 6 inch pots! And when you repot your orchids in the spring, they will take advantage of their new medium and keep growing!  We all know that it is much easier to repot a 3 inch or 4 inch pot into a larger container than to struggle to remove a large orchid from its overgrown container and divide and repot it!

Enjoy your orchids this spring. Take good care of them and you will be rewarded with lots of exciting blooms and more vigorous plants!

Fender’s Flora