Orchids grow in trees in tropical regions, but also make beautiful, long-lived houseplants. As houseplants, they grow in mediums such as bark, coconut fiber and peat moss, instead of soil. They need a high nitrogen fertilizer, but don't worry about frequent applications. Orchids receive few nutrients in the wild and can actually be damaged by too much fertilizer, according to Kent Kobayashi of the University of Hawaii. Orchids need more fertilizer during active periods of bloom. Fertilize them infrequently, or not at all, during the winter months.
Bring 1 quart boiling water to boil in a pot. Turn off the heat and add 12 egg shells. Steep the egg shells overnight in the hot water. Drain and pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Spray orchids weekly with this mixture to add calcium and protein.
Empty the contents of a used tea bag onto the growing medium of the orchid monthly for a nitrogen-rich fertilizer.
Mix 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar with a gallon of water. Use the mixture every time you water to quickly revitalize a slow-growing plant.
Mix 2 cups cottonseed meal, 2 cups bonemeal and 2 cups wood ashes in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle 3 tbsp. of the mixture on the orchid's growing medium once a month for a nitrogen-rich fertilizer.
Dilute your morning coffee to a ratio of 1 part coffee to 4 parts water. Apply this mixture to the orchid in place of a normal watering once per month.
Things You Will Need
- Egg shells
- 2 cups cottonseed meal
- 2 cups bonemeal
- 2 cups wood ashes
- Tea bags
- 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- Proper light, says Kent Kobayashi is more critical to orchids' growth than fertilizer. Plum colored freckles on orchid leaves are a sign of good lighting conditions. Dark green leaves and few blooms indicate too little light; red or purple-edged leaves are a sign of too much light.
- Water orchids infrequently and allow them to dry out in between waterings.
- Orchids prefer a room humidity level between 40 to 60 percent. Increase humidity by misting orchids' leaves or running a humidifier.