Spring Cleaning for All Your Orchids

Spring is here and it's time to rejuvenate all your orchids that struggled through the cold, dark winter. 
Spend a little extra time with your plants now and you'll be rewarded with robust growth and vibrant flowers later.  A new growing season is here and as you've probably noticed, orchids aren't the fastest growing plants so it's time to get started.

Step 1. Take an Inventory

Remove all the plants and cleanup the dirt, dust, mold, and anything else you might find! A mild bleach solution of 1/2 cup/gallon is a good disenfectant. Take an inventory - any plants ready for "plant heaven"? Don't waste valuable growing space on questionable plants  Our rule of thumb is "if the plants has two or more things wrong, it's time for plant heaven". So if a plant has poor growth and you suspect insects  - it's time to go. Faded leaves and no roots - same thing.

Step 2. Give your plants a Bath

Did you know that disty leaves can block up to 1/3 of the available light? Every year we give our plants a thorough washing with soapy water. Sounds crazy? Not really. With hydroponics, the roots are growing in clay pebbles and a bath with a soapy solution is a good way to clean them out. (Sorry, this won't work with other planting mixes.)
  1. Take plant to the sink and remove orchid/culture pot from outer container (plant stays in culture pot).
  2. Put 2 drops of liquid dish detergent (Palmolive, Joy, etc.) with a little water in the palm of your hand.
  3. Massage the leaves, stems, and psuedo bulbs with soapy mix. Be sure to get the underside of the leaves and where the leaf meets the stem. This is where little critters hang out.
  4. Rinse thoroughly. Soapy solution helps cleanout the roots too!
Our customers keep telling us, "one of the biggest advantages of hydroponics is how clean the system is to work with". Here's another example. Wouldn't it be easier if all your plants where in hydroponics?

Bark and Moss orchids
Stuck with some plants in regular planting mix? This is an excellent time to transfer your orchids to hydroponics - and it's easy!
  1. Remove all decaying media from roots.
  2. Cut away all bad roots. Be aggressive! (I know this is hard to do but your plant will benefit.)
  3. Put 2 drops of liquid dish detergent (Palmolive, Joy, etc.) with a little water in the palm of your hand.
  4. Massage the leaves, stems, and psuedo bulbs with soapy mix. Wash roots too.
  5. Rinse thoroughly and plant into hydroponic system

Detailed instructions on transplanting to hydroponics can be found at: www.hydro-orchids.com/tp-to-hydro


Step 3.  Be on the Lookout for Insects

Take a close look - you might be surprised what your plants have picked up over the winter. The two insects you'll most likley find are :

                                 mealy05.gif              scale125x122.jpg
                                       Mealy Bugs                            Scale
Both of these critters have a protective shell. So if you suspect problems, use your fingernail or a soft brush to dislodge them. After washing  plant thoroughly, spray the plant, exposed roots, and pebbles with Neem Oil. Clean the outer container too. Then, follow up with a Neem Oil spray once a week for three weeks-  whether you see insects or not.
Neem Oil is safe and effective. Unlike most insect sprays, Neem Oil is not harmful to pets or people so don't hesitate to spray everything! We also recommend a preventative spray once a month on problem plants. Neem is also benefical to the roots so spray the pebbles too!

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Step 4. Return Plants to Growing Area

Is its time to reorganize(?). Light conditions are changing - days are getting longer and the sun is moving higher in the sky. Move those plants that need more light (Cattleya, Dendrobium, etc.) closer to the window. Find any sunburned leaves? Move them away from the window. Some plants might need stakes to grow upright (Dendrobiums).
Step 5. Complete Nutrition - the Easy Way

The groeing season is here and your plants are  hungry! 
Regular potting mixes incorporate complex boilogy to breakdown plant food before the plant can use it. These mixes deteriorate over time and trap salts and other impurities. Salts can be toxic to your plant's roots. If you're feeding your plants with a cheap plant food with old bark or moss, you may be actually killing the plant!
With hydroponics complete and balanced nutrition is easy! Plants get everything they need from the nutrient solution - no complex chemistry needed.

Contains all 13 elements your plants need. Excellent general purpose solution.

High posphorus formula to increase flower size and color. Use only when plant is in bloom
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As the new growing season is begins, don't overlook the foundation of any healthy plant, the root system. Nutrients encourage leaves and flowers - not the roots. KLN Rooting Solution
is designed specifically to give the roots a boost. All your plants will benefit by adding KLN to your nutrient solution this time of year. Just add 2-3 TBS per gallon along with Grow formula..  

Develops healthy roots
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Step 6. Hydroponic Grow Systems

Spring is the absolutely best time to transfer your plants to hydroponics. They're entering their active growing season so don't put it off! We have everything you'll need at