Orchids produce their own food they do this using water, sunlight and carbon dioxide. So why do you need to use Orchid fertilizer on your productive flowers? Well Orchid fertilizers actually provide your Orchid with key nutrients, not food, to help your Orchid to grow and become as healthy and beautiful as it possibly can.
As with nearly every other kind of plant life on earth Orchids require macronutrients such as potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus to grow healthily. As well as this microelements like zinc and calcium are also beneficial to growing a healthy Orchid and this is what Orchid fertilizers provide.
Selecting a Fertilizer Which is Suitable for Your Orchid
The goal of any Orchid grower be it a hobbyist or experience grower is to have your Orchid bloom for as long a period of time as is possible. So it’s important to bear in mind that while nitrogen is an essential macronutrient it does not promote the flowering process. Instead nitrogen helps with the growth of foliage on your Orchid, do not overlook this as having a lot of foliage on your Orchid when not in bloom will result in a much healthier Orchid, which in turn will provide you with even more impressive blooms when the flowering season arrives.
Phosphorous and potassium are however very good for the production and development of your Orchids flowers. While phosphorous will take care of flower production potassium is vital in the developmental stage of a healthy flower.
Orchid fertilizers sold by garden centre’s will list these macronutrients as an N-P-K ratio. This ratio represents the percentage value of the macronutrients within the fertilizer with N being nitrogen, P is phosphorus and K stands for potassium. So as an example a an N-P-K ratio of 27-11-11 denotes a fertilizer containing 27% nitrogen, 11% phosphorus and 11% potassium. The remaining 51% of fertilizer from this example contains inert matter. As these are percentages it is still required for the Orchid grower to calculate the actual concentration of macro nutrients that are needed for the Orchid.
In general most Orchid growers will pot their Orchids using a potting mix that does not contain soil. For this reason it is necessary to make sure that your Orchid fertilizer contains the microelements need to sustain your Orchids growth. The microelements contained within all good Orchid fertilizers are required to grow and the support healthy blooms.
When selecting a suitable Orchid fertilizer you must remember that the potting mix in which your Orchid lives will also determine the Orchid fertilizer that you decide to use. Orchids potted in bark for example will need an Orchid fertilizer with a higher concentration of nitrogen because bacteria, which grows in the bark, feeds off of nitrogen therefore depleting the amount that makes it into your Orchid.
You may also decide to use an organic fertilizer on your Orchid. In this case you should be aware that you will need to use larger quantities of fertilizer on your Orchid. The reason for this is because organic fertilizers contain lower levels of the essential macronutrients and microelements required by your Orchid as compare with standard Orchid fertilizers.
On the whole you should steer clear of slow release fertilizers. This is because the granules of slow release fertilizers have a tendency to be washed away before the nutrients it contains have a chance to be released into the potting medium.
Fertilizers that can be dissolved in water are particularly popular in the Orchid growing world. The only thing you will need to bear in mind when using water soluble fertilizers is that too little is a far lot better the too much. But use once per week as long as you are careful to use the right amount will be a positive thing for your Orchid.
Fertilizers can be difficult to get your head around but as long as you follow the advice in this article and err on the side of caution I know you will have a healthier, stronger even more gorgeous Orchid in no time at all.