I have an epiphyte orchid cutting. How do I plant and take care of this orchid?
The Gardener’s Answer
I assume your orchid has roots attached and is not just a cut flower. If the latter is true, enjoy the flower while it lasts and then add it to the compost pile.
Otherwise, place your orchid in a space where it will receive bright, indirect light. The most common epiphytic orchids sold belong to the Phalaenopsis genus. These tropicals attach themselves to trees in their native habitat and so it makes sense that they would not grow in rich, heavy soil. This is why it is so important to plant them in a bark-based soil that allows for good air circulation. The mixture should be a mixture of bark, peat, and perlite or vermiculite. Keep the soil evenly moist; it should never completely dry out.
Phalaenopsis will benefit from being fed regularly. Choose a fertilizer made specifically for orchids and follow product-recommended application rates. Over-feeding will prevent blooms.
After the bloom fades, remove the stem all the way down to about an inch. This will allow the plant to concentrate its energy on producing a new flower. Depending on temperature, humidity, and nutrients, this can take anywhere from three to six months to happen, but it’s well worth the wait.