Orchids have very specific nutritional requirements and, although it is true that they can survive on very low levels of nutrition, they will only reach their full magnificence if properly fed. Just ask a professional grower or a consistent winner at orchid shows.
Orchids should not be fed with general purpose plant ‘foods’ for many reasons. Most importantly the nitrogen supply in the mass market product will inevitably contain high levels of ammonia and urea. These compounds can be quite toxic to orchids and should never be supplied for that reason. Orchid Focus is completely free of ammoniacal and ureic nitrogen.
Orchid Focus is manufactured from the purest and most soluble mineral salts. It is fortified and enhanced with a complex profile of organic plant acids.
It is precisely formulated for the needs of orchids – contains no ammonia or urea.
It is non-toxic and poses no environmental hazards.
Orchid Focus is an ideal feeding programme for orchids. It can help produce healthier, more vigorous plants and brighter, longer lasting flowers.
Grow and Bloom Formulations
Orchid Focus is available in two separate formulations:
Orchid Focus Grow has high levels of nitrogen, derived from nitrates, to encourage the growth of healthy shoots and leaves.
Orchid Focus Bloom has enhanced levels of phosphorus and potassium to support heavy flowering.
Both formulations contain a complex profile of mineral salts and organic compounds
Which orchids need feeding?
The most commonly cultivated genera – Cymbidium, Paphiopedilum, Cattleya, Phalaenopsis, and Dendrobium, will all benefit from a proper programme of nutrition. They can be fed through the roots and by foliar application – misting the leaves.
Use Orchid Focus Grow throughout the growing season. Switch to Orchid Focus Bloom as soon as plants develop buds. Use Orchid Focus Bloom through the flowering period and switch back to Orchid Focus Grow as soon as flowers are finished. See The Orchid Seasons below.
Water quality is crucial to success with orchids and it is a simple matter to get it right. Water in many parts of the country is very hard and mineralised – it is, effectively, a nutrient solution already, with all the wrong minerals of course predominating. As orchids need nutrients at low strength it is impossible to use this water as a base – it is already too richly concentrated with minerals. If water is clean and pure to start with it allows the grower to add the correct minerals in the correct proportions – by adding a properly formulated orchid nutrient solution.
For growers living in those parts of the country with hard water – the south east, including London, and Thames valley and East Anglia – it is crucially important to find a source of clean water for orchids. Rainwater is the cheapest and most readily available source of clean water. It is important to ensure that it has run off from a clean roof and is stored in a plastic container such as a water butt. Keep it covered at all times to exclude leaves and other organic rubbish. Clean water is a perfect start for orchid nutrition – just add Orchid Focus at the recommended dose and mix it well in.
The Orchid Seasons
Early spring As soon as there is any sign of new growth Commence feeding at intervals Orchid Focus Grow
Half strength Every 2–3 weeks
Spring Strong new growth Increase strength of nutrient Orchid Focus Grow
Full strength Every 2 weeks
Summer The growing season Maintain nutrient strength Orchid Focus Grow – or Bloom
Full strength Every 1–2 weeks
Early autumn The plant is slowing down Scale back the feeding Orchid Focus Grow – or Bloom
Full strength Every 2–3 weeks
Autumn Orchid Focus Grow – or Bloom
Winter Dormant plants will not need feeding
Nitrogen is an element which is essential to growth in orchids, as in all plant species. Orchids, however, need less nitrogen than most plants and it has to be in the right form.
Nitrate is the ideal form of nitrogen for orchid cultivation – at the right levels it can deliver strong healthy growth over long periods. Orchid Focus solutions contain 100% of their nitrogen in the nitrate form.
Ammonia is a source that should be avoided – it has a tendency to produce rank soft growth, especially in low light conditions, such as prevail in orchid houses. It can also become toxic to orchids and other plants at quite low levels.
Urea is used by some fertiliser manufacturers because it is cheap. It is highly unsuitable for cultivating any plants in inert media, such as bark, for example, because these media lack the soil bacteria need to convert urea into a form useful to the plant. Without the necessary conversion urea can become toxic very quickly.
Orchid Focus solutions are carefully formulated to exclude the cheap and troublesome forms of this key mineral. Only pure 100% nitrate is ever used in our Orchid products. Follow the lead of the professionals – avoid products containing ammonia and urea.
Orchids should be fed at intervals throughout the growing season. Frequency increases as the weather warms up – see schedule. Make up Orchid Focus Grow or Bloom at the recommended strength and simply water into the potting medium.
Foliar feeding has very noticeable and positive effects on orchids, it helps to produce darker green foliage which, in turn, allows more light to be assimilated by the plant, empowering vigorous growth. Foliar feeding should be carried out in conjunction with a normal feeding programme through the roots.
Use Orchid Focus at half strength. Mist gently over foliage in the morning. This allows the whole day for foliage to dry off before nightfall.
Foliar feeding can be carried out as often as once a week during periods of active growth. It should always be at half strength.
Watch carefully for signs of overfeeding – streaking or mottling of the leaves is a warning to reduce the regularity of foliar applications. These can also be an indication of burning caused by sunlight on recently wetted leaves.
A small number of orchids, specifically those with soft foliage, such as Thunias, Lycastes, Pleiones and Phauius, should never be misted with nutrient as it will quickly damage their leaves.
How often and when?
As with most plants, orchids should be fed while they are actively growing and feeding should be suspended during periods of dormancy. Some tropical orchids that are grown indoors, under lights, may well require nutrients throughout the year, as they do not really have a dormant period.
For orchids raised under natural light, feeding should commence in the early spring. We would recommend Orchid Focus Grow at half strength to begin with. This schedule is somewhat generalised and the recommendations will apply to most species and hybrids. It is important to monitor all of the plants on a weekly basis. If the plant is healthy and foliage is dark green – continue the scheduled feeding. If it shows any signs of stress from over feeding then suspend the nutrient programme for a week or two – it will quickly recover.
Grow and Bloom Formulations
Orchid Focus is available in two separate formulations. Orchid Focus Grow has high levels of nitrogen, derived from nitrates, to encourage the growth of healthy shoots and leaves. The Bloom formulation has enhanced levels of phosphorus and potassium to support heavy flowering. Please note that the change over in nutrients will not induce flowering, no nutrient can do that. The flowering cycle is dictated by the season and by the plants internal programming. However the provision of the correct formulation at the onset of flowering will ensure that the plant has access to the minerals needed to maximise and prolong the flower display.
Orchids under lights
Many growers are now discovering the joys of artificial lighting and increasing their orchid success. To some extent the use of lights can free the grower from the constraints of the seasons and allow the production of superb flowers all the year round. It is true of course that orchids originate from a wide range of habitats and have evolved with very different light requirements. Epiphytes from the dense rainforest will prefer much lower light levels than terrestrial orchids originating from more open habitat.
However, in this sense, an indoor growing area with lighting is just the same as an orchid house. In either case there will be areas of brighter light, close to the light source, and more shady areas. The grower will simply move the plants around until they find a suitable location. The plants will soon tell you that they have the wrong light levels and it is not difficult to readjust their environment to suit specific requirements.