In order to apply fertilizer to orchids in the way that proper agricultural technology implies, it is important to take into account the peculiarities of these plants, otherwise fertilizing will not bring benefit and even be able to harm crops. If you do not trust the mineral complexes sold in flower shops, you can prepare organic flowering stimulants yourself using ashes or a mullein infusion.
Like other plants, orchids need regular feeding. But fertilize orchids at home need not like most houseplants. A number of biological features of orchids (especially epiphytes) - slow metabolism, aerial roots with tender unprotected tips, the presence of periods of rest - implies a more careful attitude to their feeding.
How to fertilize orchids, what and how often to do it, you will learn by reading this material.
Orchid fertilizer rules for the growth of roots, leaves and flowering
Speaking about how to use fertilizer for orchids, it is important to emphasize that there are no uniform recipes. Some plant growers prefer organic dressings, others inorganic, some fertilize the substrate, others promote foliar spraying. When deciding how and what kind of fertilizer to feed an orchid, you need to follow a few simple rules.
- At firstIt must be remembered that a large concentration of salts in the solution of an orchid is extremely negative. Therefore, any flower dressing (except orchid dressing) should be diluted as compared to the recommendation on the label, at least 2 times for feeding ground orchids, and 5 — 10 times - for feeding epiphytic orchids.
- SecondlyLike most other plants, orchids in the annual cycle go through several phases of growth and development, during which they need the predominance of different nutrients. Thus, during the active growth of leaves, fertilizers for orchids should be saturated with nitrogen, and at the time of development of flower buds, more phosphorus and potassium are required.
- The third The rule to follow when choosing a feeding system is to take into account periods of biological rest (for species that have them).
This is especially true for species that, during dormancy, shed their leaves, completely lose their root system and wait out unfavorable conditions in the form of pseudobulbs:
At this time for them are excluded not only top dressing, but also watering.
It is necessary to use fertilizers for orchid roots, in which in the annual growth cycle the periods of biological rest are not so clearly expressed, according to other rules. Growing such plants using artificial additional light (mostly orchids come from the tropics of the Southern Hemisphere), regular feeding can not be stopped even in winter, especially if the plants continue active growth.
Age and quality substrate It also matters when choosing fertilizer for the growth of orchids, because inside it is constantly working microorganisms - fungi, bacteria, cyanobacteria. Mushrooms and bacteria process the substrate organic matter and mineral fertilizers in a form accessible to the roots and supply part of the nutrients to the roots of orchids.
Gradually, along with nutrients, toxic substances accumulate in the old substrate, in addition, the organic matter processed by microorganisms prevents the free access of air to the roots. The older the substrate, the less it is breathable and contains more salts.
With age, the substrate can accumulate so many toxic salts that, in contact with them, the growing root tips begin to die off. Therefore, watering and fertilizer to stimulate the flowering of orchids, which have not been transplanted to another pot for a long time, should be more rare than those that have just been transplanted into a fresh substrate.
Orchid planted on a hungry organic substrate (for example, from the bark), on the contrary, is fighting for mineral nutrition with microorganisms, therefore it needs more intensive fertilizing, which, however, should be started only after 2 — 3 weeks after transplantation and after introduction into the substrate young roots.
When growing an orchid in a mineral substrate (for example, in expanded clay), one should watch more closely not only the regularity and balance of fertilizers, but also prevent salinization by regularly washing the substrate with desalted (distilled) water.
Ways to water fertilizer orchids
Choosing ways to fertilize orchids, first of all, think of the gentle growing tips of the roots of epiphytic orchids that can quickly die from fertilizers with a high concentration of salts. Therefore, before dressing, thoroughly pour the culture with desalinated (boiled, filtered or distilled) water.
Another important condition that the orchid breeder should always remember is the limitation associated with the air temperature: if the temperature during the day is> 32 ° C and at night> 24 ° C, fertilizing with orchids is very poorly absorbed.
The most common way to fertilize orchids and other potted flowers is to water the substrate from the top into the pot, and dressing should soak the entire substrate and drain freely through the drainage hole. To wet the substrate evenly, you can take a pot of orchids in your hand, plug a drainage hole with your finger from the bottom, pour fertilizer solution from the top into the pot to the brim, then remove your finger and allow the dressing to merge freely. Suitable for individual care.
Another way to water the orchid with fertilizers is foliar dressing, that is, spraying diluted nutrient solution on the leaves. Many orchids with rigid fleshy leaves (for example, phalaenopsis) have a stomata mainly from the bottom side, it is through them that the mineral substances from the top-dressing penetrate into the plants. Therefore, the benefits of foliar dressing more, if the leaves are not sprayed from above, but below.
It is clear that through the stomata the plant can absorb a very small amount of the solution, therefore, using the foliar method, orchids are usually fed with microelements (iron, zinc, boron, etc.), but you can use a balanced complex fertilizer that is applied regularly (for example, with every second by spraying).
How else can you apply complex fertilizer for orchids
An effective way to fertilize is to set the pot “on the neck” in a container with dressing on 20 — 30 minutes, then let the dressing flow freely through the drain hole. This method is not suitable for newly transplanted, non-rooted or non-fortified plants, because orchid and substrate can just float out of the pot.
Orchids can also be fertilized from below through a drainage hole. The fertilizer solution is drunk in a small container and put the plant pot in it on an 1 — 2 hour. In this case, the moisture-absorbing substrate gradually absorbs the top-dressing into the substrate coma from below, through the drainage hole. The pot is then removed and the dressing is allowed to drain freely. This way you need to fertilize orchids moisture-loving species and "precious" crops.
It is not necessary to re-water the plants with merged additional feeding, since, passing through the substrate, the solution changes its chemical (concentration, acidity) and microbiological properties.
In addition, the reuse of complex fertilizer for orchids and can lead to infection of healthy plants with various pathogens - insects, fungi, bacteria and viruses.
This video shows the correct orchid fertilizer:
How to grow fertilizer for orchids to properly use them
To avoid the appearance of salt inlays on leaves and roots of orchidsBefore you dilute a fertilizer, you need to remember three basic rules:
- For the preparation of foliar dressings, use only soft, carbonate-free water;
- Use nutrient solutions with a low salt concentration of no more than 0,05% (0,5 ml / l);
- Between foliar dressings, wash the plant, the surface of the substrate or the substrate block with clean water, free from salt.
Most orchids do not tolerate elevated concentrations of salts, not only in irrigation water, but also in top dressing.
For feeding orchids characterized by CAM-photosynthesis and low salt status, the concentration of the nutrient solution should be less than 0,1% (1 ml / l); for orchids characterized by switching C3 — CAM photosynthesis with medium salt status, the concentration of the nutrient solution must be within 0,1 — 0,2% (1 — 2 ml / l), and only for terrestrial C3 — species with high salt status, the concentration of nutrient solution can be more than 0,2% (more than 2 ml / l).
It is better to use solutions that do not exceed 0,1 — 0,05% (1 — 0,5 ml / l) when feeding epiphytic orchids.
When to fertilize orchids: timeline and video
It is important to know not only how to fertilize the orchid, but also when to do it. Orchids, like other indoor plants, the need for nutrients varies with the time of year. In spring and summer, when the day is longer, there is more light, and the temperature is higher, the plant is able to absorb and process more nutrients than in autumn and winter with a short day, less light and a low temperature.
In addition, many orchids in winter are in a state of forced rest due to low light in the room, their metabolism is reduced, and growth almost completely stops.
How often to fertilize orchids in a given period?
During this period, the need for additional nutrients is insignificant, so in the period from November to early February, top dressing can be completely eliminated or reduced (solution concentration to 0,05% (0,5 ml / l) and frequency to 1 once a month). Beginning in February, when the length of daylight increases significantly, and the illumination increases, the plants start to grow and need additional nutrients that can be obtained through regular fertilizing.
Well-rooted adult plants can be fed regularly, making home fertilizer for orchids with every second watering, but for weakened plants with a damaged root system it is better to apply foliar feeding on the leaves.
Pay attention to the limitation associated with the temperature compensation point: at a constantly high temperature (daytime above 30 ° C, at night above 24 ° C), the process of carbon dioxide consumption and the associated C3 — photosynthesis processes cease, the stomata close, and the roots no longer absorb fertilizer solutions. In such hot conditions it is useless to feed.
Orchids, which in their annual cycle have a long period of rest, at the time of the resumption of active growth, need not only a gradual increase in moisture, but also a gradual increase in the concentration of dressings.
So, in the very initial phase of growth of the young shoots, when the orchid's roots were still embedded in the substrate, it was too early to feed the plant, at this time you can only gently resume praying with distilled or desalted water.
With the development of the root system of the young shoot, you can start feeding, and first the nutrient solution should be weaker so that it cannot burn the root system, and then the concentration can be gradually increased.
After watching the video “We are fertilizing orchids”, you can better understand how and when this important agrotechnical device is performed:
What kind of fertilizer you can water the orchids: the composition of the best dressings
When choosing which fertilizers to use for feeding orchids, do not forget that water is both a source of oxygen and hydrogen, and a solvent, and a means of transporting nutrients, both in the substrate and inside the plant.
Mineral salts dissolved in water dissociate, i.e., decompose into two parts or two ions: one negatively charged (anion), the other positively charged (cation). In any soil solution, all mineral salts available to the plant are present only in the form of anions and cations.
Basically, the goal of home-made fertilizer for orchids at home is to introduce two cations (NH4 and K) and two anions (PO4 and NO3) into the substrate, which include three elements - nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. These are the three macronutrients needed by plants during active growth, flowering and fruiting.
In addition to macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium), micronutrients (iron, calcium, magnesium, etc.) should be included in the fertilizer for orchids. Their lack or excess leads to a weakening, deformation or delay in the development of shoots, roots and inflorescences of orchids. An important indicator for maximum nutrient absorption is acidity.
Next, you will learn what kind of fertilizer you can feed orchids at home.
What kind of liquid mineral fertilizers can you feed orchids (with photo)
The ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in mineral dressings is called the N: P: K complex. For example, the ratio N: P: K = 10: 10: 10 shows that 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus and 10% potassium are available for the plant in this solution. A solution with the formula N: P: K = 3: 1: 1 contains nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the same proportions as the solution with the formula 30: 10: 10, but the concentration of substances in it is ten times lower, that is, it is diluted 10 times.
Such diluted solutions are the best fertilizers for feeding orchids.. At the beginning of the growth of young shoots (spring), when the need of orchids for nitrogen increases, use fertilizer, in which N: P: K = 3: 1: 1 or 10: 4: 7. Completion of the growth of shoots and the beginning of flowering suggests that it is time to increase the amount of phosphorus and potassium, fertilizer with the proportion of 1: 2: 2 or 1: 3: 2 is suitable here.
When choosing how to fertilize an orchid with a fertilizer, it is better to use liquid mineral supplements, on the labels of which it is indicated that they are intended specifically for these plants. Developers even offer paired products of the same brand, but intended for different phases of development.
For example, fertilizer Orchid quick intended for the growth of shoots, and fertilizer Orchid Quick Plus stimulates flowering.
Not bad drugs have proven themselves Chrystal, Biplanlol Vital NT, Bona Forle other. Liquid domestic fertilizer for other colors can also be used, but they need to be diluted 5 — 10 times.
Using ready-made liquid mineral fertilizers for orchids (and especially those containing vitamins and biostimulants), we must not forget that they have an expiration date. It is not recommended to buy old fertilizers, as vials with fertilizers, the shelf life of which has already expired, often precipitates insoluble precipitate.
The negative properties of a long-cooked feeding are also obvious: Along with the removal from the nutrient solution of a part of the mineral substances necessary for the plant, the pH value of the solution also changes.
These photos show the best fertilizer for orchids:
How to independently prepare fertilizer for orchids (with video)
Orchids can be fed with not only mineral fertilizers, but also organic fertilizers, but this should be done very carefully, always taking into account the periods of growth and dormancy of the plants. Very bury react to organic orchid fertilizers grown on land mixtures:
Infusion of fresh cow dung can be prepared by yourself as follows. On the 10 parts of soft water, the 1 part of the mullein is taken, placed in a bag made of cloth and infused for 10 — 12 days with occasional stirring of the bag in solution. Then the bag with fertilizer should be removed, and the resulting solution should be diluted 10 — 20 once, so that the color of it would resemble a light beer. Such top dressing can be used to water ground tropical orchids in a pot no more than 1 times in 2 weeks during several spring and summer months.
Separately, you can prepare and infusion of ash at the rate of 1 ash glass on 10 liters of water. It is impossible to use this solution as an independent feeding, since it has a strong alkaline reaction. If necessary, it can be added to the mullein infusion to correct acidity (pH 5,5 — 6,8).
How to fertilize orchids to bloom plants
A weakened plant without roots and leaves can be tried to reanimate and force to bloom with the help of special fertilizers-growth regulators - analogues of phytohormones. Proprietary drugs such as Zircon, Ribav-Extra, Obereg (concentration of 0,2 ml / l or 0,02%) have proven themselves well. They stimulate the formation of new buds, enhance growth and root formation, increase plant immunity.
What else can fertilize orchids to bloom plants?
Drug "Epin-Extra" stimulates abundant flowering, strengthens the shoots and root system of plants. But this drug works only in an acidic environment (pH 5,5 — 6) and in the dark, so I recommend them to carry out selective processing of the most weakened plants in the evening or in cloudy weather.
For example, you can first spray Epinom-Extra spraying (concentration 2 ml / l) for two nights in a row, and re-process 0,2 — 1 weeks after it.
What fertilizers do weakened orchids need to stimulate the immune system?
The vegetative Japanese preparation “Vitalizer HB-101” proved to be excellent. His solution (0,2 ml / l) should be weekly for 1 — 2 months to spray plants affected by severe sunburn and prolonged overheating.