Orchids have adorned homes and gardens since ancient times and have a full, rich history of various myths, tales and legends.
Orchids are beautiful but very particular flowers. It takes tenacity, patience and attention detail that most other plants do not require. But when they bloom in their gradation of colors with beautiful, bright petals, the effort made is all the more rewarding.
So, how often do orchids bloom? How they bloom and the frequency with which they bloom all depends on initial care factors. Temperature, watering, sunlight, humidity, airflow and genetics all play a part. But typically, they will bloom 1-2 times per year.
They often achieve peak growth between January and March but many will bloom during the autumn months as well.
When the flowers do come in, they linger from anywhere between six and ten weeks. The anticipation of orchid flowering times is an important aspect in getting them to bloom more often, but this isn’t guaranteed.
However, some species will only bloom once a year and that’s it. So, forcing it to bloom again may not be a good option or something to attempt. But some one-hit-wonders will bloom again if they’re really happy.
So let’s take a look at what you can do to try to get the most out of your Orchids’ bloom and hopefully increase the frequency that they bloom.
Potting & Repotting
Make sure these showy flowers get a pot with holes on the bottom and don’t use regular gardening soil. This will ensure proper drainage, moisture retention, prevent root rot and stop salt buildup.
Planning potting ahead of time will benefit you and the orchid in the end as repotting. The media used for the flowers will often breakdown. This prevents the roots from getting water, nutrients, fertilizer and oxygen.
How often you do this will depend upon the root system of the orchid, not the foliage. If the potting material looks like gardening soil or if the roots are turning a shade of brown, it’s repotting time.
Please note though, orchids do not like moving from their original spot. Because of this, they may not bloom for a whole year after disturbance. Patience will be the key to your success.
The best way to prevent frequent repotting of your orchid is by choosing the best medium for the soil at the start. Don’t use potting soil, garden soil from your yard or store-bought starter soil. Instead, make sure you select something spongy and absorbent but allows for quick effluence.
You can use one or a combination of the following as the potting media:
- cork pieces
- rock wool
- lava rocks
- dried fern roots
- fibres from coconut shells
- fir bark
- sphagnum moss
- peat moss
Monitoring Elements & the Essentials
Then you want to put your orchid in an east or south-facing window and make sure it gets plenty of indirect yet bright sunlight. Full sun will choke your orchid and may cause the leave to burn.
Not enough sun will cause it to wilt. In the same token, you want to make sure it experiences the darkness of nighttime.
Moving air is also an important component. If the area it rests in doesn’t have much air flowing through, an oscillating fan will generally do the trick. But take care during the winter months as fans may create to much of a chill for the orchid, causing it to die.
They should stay at a warm and balmy 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit and maintain a humidity range of 40% to 60%. Irregular fluctuations in severe temperatures and humidity could cause it to die. Remember, these are tropical plants and you must give them an appropriate environment.
Keep watering to the least amount possible. Before watering, check the soil with your fingers by rubbing them together after inserting them into the soil. If the soil is moist, don’t water.
If they are flowering and you notice new buds falling before they should, this means you’re watering them far too much. To save them from dying, use the fan until the soil dries out and make sure they aren’t for want of sunshine. You may have to buy a grow lamp if you live in an area that’s often cloudy.
You want to make sure that you allow the soil to dry out a little between watering. But don’t allow it to become too dry because then the orchid will use its leaves in an attempt to obtain water from newer buds and developed flowers. This act of self-preservation will prevent blooming altogether.
You should only fertilize once a month but some varieties of orchid may need every other week. Fertilizers should be free of urea with an intentional formula designed specifically for orchids. Do not use a garden variety designed as a cover-all for flowers, fruits and vegetables.
Dormancy is Integral
Dormancy occurs when the petals fall off, so don’t throw it away because the orchid appears to be dead. This phase of its life is the most important. It’s when orchids replenish all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients spent during the last bloom. This period can take as little as six months or as much as nine.
It is also during this stage where they may need a little help more than when they are vivacious and blooming. But this is also the most important part of their existence, that is if you want them to rebloom. So yes, there are a few things you can do.
Once the flowers fall, prune back the plant. Like any plant, pruning ensures they’ll grow bigger and better the next time around. But unlike other plants, they will not rebloom on the same stem, so pruning is a must.
You can cut the two nodes at the bottom or cut them just above their pseudobulb. Some species will have stems that are thick at the base, these are the “pseudobulb.” For all other varieties, cut them above with the potting soil.
Continue your fertilizing schedule and keeping it in constant indirect light with a darkened, nighttime period. Do this even when flowers aren’t present.
Getting them to Rebloom with Your Help
After they’ve been dormant for a while and you’ve continued your tenacious care of them, there are a few things you can wait for and do to force them to bloom more often.
Orchids are sensitive to even the slightest temperature changes and cause them to push out a new leaf followed by a flower spike. This is what they do as a reaction to the difference in heat.
Lowering the general temperature between 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit will cause this reaction. When the flower spike appears and the plant itself grows to about five inches, use a loose tie and a stick to keep it propped up.
If flowers don’t start showing after a couple of months, move your plant to a new location and make sure the water and sunlight balance is right and proper.
When your orchid does begin to bloom, do not let go of your TLC detail:
- Continue checking water and soil as your life depends on it.
- Make sure you cut away any dead and discolored roots.
- Keep your orchid inside all year round, unless you live in a humid, tropical area with light rain.
- Pay attention to any changes in the soil, leaves and flowers for any untimely activity.
If you do all these things and you know you’re doing all the right things, it may be time to call for some help. Contact your local florist, college botanist or neighbourhood horticulturist for personalized guidance with your problem.
Growing orchids can be very challenging but also one of the most rewarding pursuits. Their beauty is indescribable and breathtaking; something you can enjoy year after year. Knowing the specifics of your orchid and what type it is will always be the first step in getting them to rebloom.
Once you get to know your orchid and observe its regular behaviour, you can then attempt forcing the flowers through when you want. The key is knowing and understanding its regular blooming and dormancy cycles
But remember, they aren’t going to bloom again because you will it to be so. You have to wait for the times of the year it’s expected to bloom.