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How do I feed my orchids

This is one of the most common questions I’m asked, not just by beginners but by experienced growers as well. There is no magic answer, just 16 essential elements for plant growth.

Plants make their own food through photosynthesis, and the nutrient we supply is used in the reactions that occur within the plant during this process. We need to ensure the correct balance of nutrients is available to the plant as required. This balance changes depending on the season and the stage of growth. Plants in the active growth phase require higher levels of Nitrogen, whereas plants in the pre-flowering and flowering phases require higher levels of Potassium and Phosphorus.

We use liquid fertiliser. This method is direct and takes the nutrients to the roots for uptake. The roots grow in the spaces in the pot between the media components, and the fertiliser we supply is held in these spaces.

Nutrients are supplied to the plant in the form of compounds. Some are readily taken up, while others require conversion via microbial activity to be absorbed by the plant, e.g. the Urea form of Nitrogen is a compound that requires conversion. How the nutrient compounds are supplied is the major difference in the quality, effectiveness and cost of fertilisers.

The most significant advancement in fertilizer in recent times is the all-in-one liquid fertiliser. Traditional feeding programs separate Calcium and Magnesium as mixing them causes the two elements to form an insoluble compound (Gypsum). These new advanced techniques allow for the correct combination of essential elements are found in Growth technology’s FOCUS ORCHID fertiliser. It has a balance of nutrients that meets our requirements and comes in a one-part mix There are two formulas available. One for growth and one for flower induction and flowering.

The use of Seaweed or Kelp extracts gives orchid plants a natural tonic. Attributes include 77 minerals, 17 amino acids, 4 natural growth stimulants, chelating agents, and complex sugars with the added benefit of Fulvic Acid (high quality) as a natural growth promoter. We use Kelp extract to help our plants deal with heat and recover after potting.

We fertilise every watering, all through the year. We use a weak solution in warmer months when increased light intensity means plants are photosynthesising at a higher rate and an even weaker concentration in winter when light intensity is very low.

Application is the key to successful growth. Understanding the plant's requirements (moist or dry) and the media's behaviour (how fast the media dries) dictate when you need to water. This is influenced by the environment you keep your plants in. It is these challenges that add to the day-to-day joy of growing orchids.