The 411 on Orchid TLC

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Orchids are beautiful plants with intriguing blooms that are tougher than they look. Enhance longevity of pots and sprays by following a few basic steps…

Temperature and humidity are primary considerations:

Most orchids (cuts and potted) suffer chill damage when held colder than 50F, but that’s not to say they don’t require cooling as they move through the chain. Hold and transport orchids between 50F-60F with 90-95% humidity.

Traditional flower coolers are too COLD and DRY for storing orchid sprays corsages, arrangements and leis, so too are kitchen refrigerators: a critical point because chill damage occurs fast, 4-6 hours at temperatures colder than 50F.

Ethylene—fast track to bloom death:

Orchids are ethylene-sensitive. Exposure to even a minute amount for a short time causes florets to appear vein-y, buds shrivel, flop and/or drop off and damage is irreversible.

Avoid exposure and purchase pre-treated cut stems. Sprays should be treated with STS, the anti-ethylene solution is STS, the same solution used to protect carnations, wax and delphinium from this flower-deadly gas. Potted plants are (should be) treated during transit with 1-MCP gas (known commercially as Chrysal Ethylene Buster) to protect blooms from exposure to external ethylene sources like smoke (cigarettes, BBQs, fireplaces, incense), exhaust from autos, space heaters, fruits and veggies. No Joke! Expect more than two weeks vase life for treated cuts and 2-3 months for treated plants. Not treated? Bye-bye longevity–expect less than a week.

Processing cut Orchid sprays:

For all types remove cotton or water tubes on arrival and give stems a fresh cut. Place in Chrysal Professional 2, a low-sugar display flower food. The nutrients provide energy for bud opening, longevity and color stability. Solutions are active 5-6 days.

For more sensitive Vandas and ‘Tiger Tail’, use filtered water (not tap water) and nix the flower food. Change filtered water daily to ensure free flow in stems. Bacteria mucks-up flow fast.

Don’t love these plants to death!!

Phalenopsis plants like bright, indirect light. Look for leaves that are firm and medium green. Floppy long dark green leaves means plant is not getting enough light. Temperature needs are similar to human likes, 60-75F. Good air movement is important, but most important is to avoid overwatering. Check soil media—bark dries faster than peat. If unsure, wait 2-3 days. Never let plant sit in water because roots drown fast. Remove deco pots and place in warm (filtered) H20 for 10-20min. Flush surface with gentle stream to flush salts. Rule of thumb: water 1 x every 7-10 days.

How to stimulate re-blooming:

Cut faded flower stalk at 1 inch above soil surface. Allow plant to rest 4-6 weeks in cool, light area (+/-55F), but keep it watered. Finally place plant back in original position. The last detail on plant care?  Don’t touch those crazy roots. A unique aspect of this huge plant family is the roots don’t need soil and are able to draw nutrients and moisture from the air. Plants love crowded roots. Let those crazy roots wave in the wind and postpone repotting for at least 2 years after purchase. This huge exotic plant family captivates mortals with mysterious colors, shapes and (sometime) fragrant blooms. The spell of orchids captivates brides and grandmothers alike.


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