Orchid Fertilizers – Food for Thought

by Mary Ann

There are only a few things that separate an amazing orchid plant to your regular good ones and more often than not one of them is the fertilizer.

Wild orchids have been doing fine and growing healthy without the aid of any fertilizers. In places such as rain forests, these plants feed off any nutrients they can get their roots into. Examples of these are decaying leaves, animal dung and even your simple rain water. Orchids grown domestically on the other hand need that push for them to reach their optimum health. This is where orchid fertilizers enter.

Orchid food as most people call them, are not really a necessity as much as a high recommendation when it comes to growing these incredible plants. They can survive with just the basic water, soil and sun combination. But if you are the serious hobbyist and you want your plants to be of the highest quality then there’s no second guessing when it comes to using fertilizers. Giving them the proper care in combination with proper application of orchid fertilizer, you will get results that will be seen on their stunning flowers and healthy leaves.

Although there are a lot of similarities when it comes to using orchid fertilizers and other plant fertilizers, there are still few specific things that you need to know such as:

Weakly, Weekly

This is perhaps the mostly common tip that any orchid enthusiast can share with you when it comes to using orchid fertilizers. The difference between orchids and other plants is that they need less of it. In fact, giving them too much can be harmful to their growth and can even cause your plants to burn.

Most fertilizers have salt minerals in them that when given in large amounts can harm the plants. Overfed orchids actually grow faster than usual but result in weak, disease-susceptible plants. And this will be greatly noticeable when they start to bloom. Giving them small amounts on a weekly basis is the thing to follow. And if you can, at every end of the month flush the pot out using water to eliminate the fertilizer’s residue build up.

Nitrogen, Phosphorus And Potassium

The N-P-K combination as most orchid hobbyists would call them are the main ingredients or the major nutrients that one should look for when buying orchid fertilizers. When your chosen fertilizer has all of these major nutrients, then you are all set. Don’t be confused by all the fancy things you can find on the labels.

See, although there are 17 other minor nutrients that orchids need, as long as you have those three you will do fine. One more thing, that you may notice when buying fertilizers are the 3 numbers printed on their labels. This actually shows you the percentage concentration of the 3 aforementioned major nutrients. Choose the most balanced one, usually having equal parts of everything such as 10-10-10 or 20-20-20.

If you are dedicated to growing orchids, be sure to take time in researching the best orchid fertilizer for your specific type of orchid. As you may know there are lots of types of orchids and each may have specific need that varies from the others. So although these tips can be used for most orchids, it is still much wiser to go to a battle well-prepared. Happy growing and enjoy your orchids!

Quick and Easy Steps to Orchid Care and Culture

by Mary Ann

There really is not much difference at all between growing orchids and growing other plants. All plants really need the same care to be healthy and this consists of meeting their basic needs in terms of water, food, warmth, sun and air.

Orchids require these same basics to grow and thrive – it is only the amounts which separate them from other types of plants. The amount needed of each of these elements for growth also separates orchids from one another.

Orchid care begins with providing the right humidity level for the type of orchid you intend to grow. Generally speaking, orchids need between 40% and 70% humidity day after day.

While most plants control water evaporation, orchids cannot, and are constantly in a state of losing water. The only controlling factor is the amount of humidity in the air.

Know how much humidity your orchid is going to require before purchasing it.

If you are growing orchids, you need to supply continuous atmospheric moisture, whether it be by hosing the garden or inside, by spraying the plants, setting them over trays of water or keeping them in a container such as a glass environment where you can control the humidity levels.

Humidity is not a problem in cold weather. You should follow periods of humidity by a time of drying out. This is similar to having morning sun followed by an afternoon shower, and then morning sun once again the next day.

Air is another necessity of orchids.

In nature, orchids often grow up trees because they have excellent air circulation. While all plants pull carbon dioxide from the air, orchids are extremely efficient about it.

Good ventilation is essential to growing healthy orchids indoors. A ceiling fan is good for air circulation. Even indoor orchids need fresh clean air inside so open a window whenever possible. If it’s cold outside, arrange it so the air is warmed before it hits the plants. For example, open the window from the top and not the bottom.

Place your orchids where they will get the most sunlight they can without suffering any ill effects, such as sunburn.

Orchids need lots of light–around ten hours per day. This light should not be at full intensity at all times so start them out in the sun and then move them  to shadier spots or filter the light through curtains until you achieve the desired effect.

Orchids need to be protected from frost and snow. Many orchids grow naturally where temperatures dip well below freezing. In the Andes, for instance, temperatures in the 20s are not terribly uncommon.

But you must be very attentive to colder temperatures, and orchids that do experience cooler temperatures must remain dry. Cold and wet are not good conditions for growing orchids.

Cooler orchids are those said to need a temperature averaging fifty degrees. Check out temperature charts online or in orchid books for which orchids do best at certain temperatures.

Your orchids need to be fed. That is a step of orchid care not to be ignored. Some growers still argue about what orchids need to be fed and how much. But, especially if you are a beginner, you will want to do everything possible to have healthy orchids.

Begin by using orchid liquid fertilizer, whether it be synthetic or organic. Most orchids today are planted in osmunda, or dead fern roots, which decomposes.

Always check your orchids for yellowish or brownish discolorations which might mean the plants are malnourished. Check out recipes for nutrient fertilizers online.

If you meet these basics of orchid care and culture, you should have no trouble at all being successful at growing orchids. As long as they have the basics of food, air, humidity, protection and light, orchids will respond positively.

Beginners’ Quickstart to Growing Orchids

by Mary Ann

The first thing any aspiring orchid gardener needs to decide is what type of orchid to grow. The first thing to consider is the climate of the region in which you live and whether or not it supports outdoor or indoor orchid growth. The decision to grow inside or outside is one of the biggest initial decisions to be made.

Choose healthy plants.
Next, be sure to buy plants that are healthy with no signs of pests or diseases. The bulbs should all be around the same size with none significantly smaller than others. It is best to buy an orchid that has already bloomed or is blooming at the time of purchase. Always look for living roots. Plus, don’t buy from sellers who are not reputable even if the low prices are tempting. One infested plant can devastate an entire collection of orchids.

Grow similar orchids together
Try to select orchids that grow happily together. That means: do not put orchids which like the shade with orchids which like the sun. And, do not place orchids which like nighttime temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees with those who prefer cooler nighttime temperatures of 50 to 60 degrees. Grow orchids together only if they have similar needs.

Make plenty of space
Orchids come in all sizes. Always be sure to research how tall your orchid is going to grow before purchasing it. Some tiny orchid plants may be no more than a few inches high, while others can be over two feet tall. A small orchid can spread out its flower stems to be over five feet long. If growing orchids inside, make sure that your house has enough room for your species to spread out.

Check humidity levels
Most warm orchids need pretty high humidity levels in order to thrive and flower. Many should be in the 60% to 80% range. If you live in a place where it gets very cold in the winters, you most likely will not be able to maintain such a high humidity level without building a greenhouse or some type of glass enclosure. Some of the cool orchids or terrestrials are not so demanding about moisture. These are better selections for beginners.

Water orchids well
The watering of orchids is one of the most critical aspects of orchid care. Most orchids are served well by watering once a week. You should wait for the plant to dry out but don’t let it get totally dry in-between watering. The top should be dry to the touch and the pot should feel light. One of the biggest mistakes beginners make with orchids is over-watering. Water the plant well–until water flows from the drainage holes. But make sure the orchid is well-drained and there is never any accumulation of water.

Air circulation is necessary
Orchids need to be able to have a lot of air circulation for superior growth. Unlike most plants, except for a few terrestrial varieties, orchids are not planted with their roots growing into the soil. Whatever media you use for planting–fir bark, sphagnum moss, peat moss or others, it is essential that the entire growing area has adequate ventilation. Inside, a ceiling fan on low is just right for proper air circulation. Stale air can cause an orchid to deteriorate.

If you want your orchids to flower, you are going to have to fertilize them. There is not a lot of agreement among gardeners as to the best fertilizer for orchids. Everyone seems to have their own pet theory. The best way is to simply try a couple of different fertilizing options and see which works out the best. You can go all organic with your fertilizers, using compost from worm castings or fish emulsions, or you can use synthetic fertilizers, such as 10-10-10 with varying amounts of nutrients.

Landscaping – The Potential in Small Gardens

by Mary Ann

From time to time, I also get gardening-related questions submitted to us, so every now and then I’ll give you some general gardening tips and strategies too.  Since us plant lovers need to stick together!  So here’s a gardening-related article you should enjoy along with some tools that might help you out…

Today the majority of people have smaller gardens on smaller plots because of growing population and the need of space close to central points. This, however, should not prevent people from getting excited about their gardens, because even small gardens have the potential to be charming, welcoming and well designed. Less space can mean less costs and less work.

Small gardens have complete rules of their own when it comes to design and can actually make you attentive of more detail. A small garden does not have to be restricted to straight neat lines that can even make it seem smaller and cramped. Curves (in the form of stone walkways or curved flower beds) in small gardens create flow or motion and the illusion of more space. Old wood and rock gives texture to a garden while the division of the space into “compartments” by creating different levels can also expand your garden. This can be done by creating a sitting area on a raised platform or by raising some flowerbeds. You can also use bridges, gazebos or trellises to divide areas and placing interesting elements, such as groups of rocks or same coloured plants, in different areas, can ensure more pleasant experiences for you and visitors. To prevent the garden from looking cluttered, it is important to keep the same kinds of plants and rocks together so unity can be achieved.

Different colours, sizes, shapes and textures of plants can actually make a garden look more spacious. In these gardens, you should stick with few colours, preferably in the same shades, together with a lot of greenery. The size of plants should be in proportion to the garden as to not overwhelm it. Repeat certain plants throughout the garden and do not use many different tree species. Use smaller plants in front and bigger plants at the back to create the illusion of size.

Another way to create illusion of depth is to incorporate glass and even mirrors into the garden by placing them on garden walls or walls of the house. Splash pools are great alternatives to swimming pools that fit into larger gardens and fitting water features into small gardens are possible in some cases. It is important to “guide” visitors from the road to the door and through the backyard in an inviting way. The design of the front yard should make the first and striking impression.

It is a good idea to coordinate the outdoor design with the house and possibly around a single theme. Choosing a colour scheme and outdoor accessories that compliment indoor accessories can create a lasting impact.

Ultimately, designing a small garden is just as imaginative as and sometimes even more mysterious than a large garden. You do not need acres of grass and vast open spaces to create a welcoming, beautiful space. You will have to take care of your garden and would it not be mush easier to keep fewer acres attractive? Landscaping a small garden saves time and money while providing all the charm you need.

For the past 20 years, Creative Landscaping has been turning dull and dreary areas into perfectly crafted landscapes for both private and corporate clients in the greater Gauteng area (including Johannesburg & Pretoria). Our service offering includes, but is not limited to:

Exterior & Interior Landscaping – Water Features, Rock Features, Wooden Decking, Pathways, Landscape architecture

Irrigation & Estate Management (Maintenance) – Irrigation Systems, Garden Fertilizing & Treatment, Garden Maintenance, Estate Garden Management

The Correct Manner of Composting

by Mary Ann

From time to time, I also get gardening-related questions submitted to us, so every now and then I’ll give you some general gardening tips and strategies too.  Since us plant lovers need to stick together!  So here’s a gardening-related article you should enjoy along with some tools that might help you out…

You will discover various techniques in which buy organic compost could possibly be made and a number of theories exist  as to the way in which they must be treated. You will discover two significant points which are essential  for successful compost making and these are adequate drainage and aeration and sufficient moisture. It signifies of collecting the tremendous amount of waste material which is collected together during  regular garden maintenance and it delivers the garden, or rather, the soil, with valuable organic  matter.

This organic matter fulfils numerous essential functions. It allows to enhance the structure of  the soil, particularly the heavy clay kinds and also the light sandy types.The size in the location a compost heap will need will depend naturally about the size from the garden and  specifically on the amount and sizes within the lawns, for the biggest proportion of compost heap  ingredients composed of lawn clippings.

The usual recommendation is that the heap ought not be far  far more than 90cm (3ft) wide or 90cm (3ft) in height when extremely very first built.The productive breaking down of waste material in a heap depends on the action of bacteria and fungi.  The bacteria depend on plenty of nitrogen as food and also the rate of decay is commonly increased by  supplying some readily accessible nitrogen. This could possibly be provided by sprinkling the material using a  nitrogenous fertilizer including sulphate of ammonia or Nitro-chalk.

One much more method of adding  Nitrogen is by placing layers of superb high quality, fresh animal manure between the layers of garden  waste. The heap is, truly, built up in sandwich fashion with alternate layers of manure and waste. The finest of soils inside content and texture is useless unless it may perhaps be moist.  buy garden compost

Orchid Care Before and After Blooming

by Mary Ann

Orchids which are given good care before and after blooming will continue on the path of their growth cycle and bloom again. Many people fear that their orchids won’t re-bloom, but this fear is unfounded if you follow some basics of orchid care.

Begin by purchasing a plant that is mature and has already bloomed once or is in the process of blooming.

That way you guarantee a basic degree of success and should not have an orchid which never blooms. It is your efforts at orchid care which will be rewarded with its next period of flower production.

So, let’s look at some of the basics of orchid care before blooming…

Orchids need a goodly amount of water but not too much water. It depends on the kind of orchid you have that determines how much is enough.

For instance, some orchids should get very dry before watering while others should not. If you have a moth orchid, which is one of the easiest to grow, the soil should not get overly dry nor should it ever be soggy.

The situation is much the same with orchid care and humidity.

Depending on the species of orchid you have, necessary humidity levels can vary from forty to seventy percent. Most orchids tend to be on the higher end of this spectrum as they grow wild in the tropics.

You need to find out what humidity level is needed for your specific type and then meet it. If you have a plant that needs lots of humidity and warm air but live in a cold location, you could try growing orchids in a glass home, such as a terrarium.

A terrarium, greenhouse, or other type of shelter can also help you maintain the correct temperature levels for your orchids. Again, the species of orchid will determine its favorite temperatures but a general range is sixty-five to eighty degrees. Cooler temperatures by ten or fifteen degrees overnight will aid the plant in flowering abundantly.

Bright light is also a blooming requirement although that doesn’t mean hours of direct summer sun.

Sunburn and scalding can be problems for orchids which receive too much direct sunlight. Inside, you can experiment with windows, especially those facing south or you can use the terrarium or enclosure approach where you can place florescent lighting.

If you get the light just right, your orchid’s foliage will be yellowish and not dark green. Dark green means too little light and under these conditions, the orchid may not bloom.

Blooms are also dependant on a plant well-fed with plenty of fertilizer.

You need to fertilize orchids every couple weeks. In most cases, use a very diluted mixture. The decision is yours whether it be organic or synthetic, such as 10-10-10, 30-10-10, or 10-10-30, but don’t let the fertilizer burn the plant.

Plants are dormant for several weeks after blooming. Continue to care for your orchid normally during this time.

Depending on the type of orchid, you may need to cut off the flower stem and surrounding sheath. Other orchids do not need the stem trimmed at all. Be sure to know which orchid you have and its post-bloom process.

If your orchid has been in the same pot for two years or more, it is time to repot during the period in-between blooming.

It may be too large for its pot or the medium in which it is planted may have overly decomposed. Be gentle and repot the orchid in osmunda fiber, fir bark, gravel, peat moss, or another material good for growing orchids.

This should give it a good start on its next period of growth and new blooms.

Container Gardening – 10 Reasons Why It Will Work For You

by Mary Ann

From time to time, I also get gardening-related questions submitted to us, so every now and then I’ll give you some general gardening tips and strategies too.  Since us plant lovers need to stick together!  So here’s a gardening-related article you should enjoy along with some tools that might help you out…

Container gardening is an inexpensive way for you to make your patio, deck or landscaping look great.  If you don’t have a lot of landscaping area to plant, you can use containers to plant just about any kind of plant and put it anywherever you want.

Below are 10 great reasons to get started with your container garden right away:

  1. Container plants are movable. Did you ever plant something then realized in a few days that you did not like where you planted it? Well, if you had plants in containers, they could be moved wherever you want them. You can move them as many times as you want to, re-decorating your deck or patio to fit your mood.
  2. Container plants create interest. You can combine different color plants or you can group plants together to create a theme or a themed display. You can use small Container plants with fountains or statues or just about anything to create a focal point.
  3. You can create some pizzazz in your landscaping with Container plants. Arrange your plants by plant color or by container color. You can also put blooming plants in your landscaping next to plants that have already bloomed, keeping your garden in full bloom all year long.
  4. With Container plants in your landscaping, you can be flexible with the look that you want to create. You can have different plants for different seasons. You can have container plants that need part sun or part shade and then move them around so that you are not limited to only plants that like sun or plants that like shade.
  5. You can create a setting on your deck or patio and group some of your outdoor plants with some of your indoor houseplants that you put outside for the summer. You can group some plants on and around a table or you can put your plants on shelves, grouped according to height.
  6. You can start your plants indoors and then put them outside when they bloom. Then, once the weather changes, you can move them back inside and have your garden indoors.
  7. You can recycle your plants. You can start your perennials in pots and then divide them and plant them in your garden in the fall or you can divide them and put some in your landscaping and keep some in pots for next year.
  8. You can use old objects that you already have around your home as pots for your outdoor plants. You can use wooden boxes, kettles or a garden cart. You can either plant several plants together in a larger pot or kettle or put smaller individual pots into a garden cart for a real interesting display.
  9. You can save money on your container garden. Buy one package of seeds of an annual that grows quickly, like dwarf zinnias. You can split the seeds among a few pots and within a few weeks, you will have lots of colorful flowers. Or, you can take a flat of petunias and plant them in a large pot.

10.  Here is something that I do every year. It saves me a lot of time. I have two wooden planters on my front porch and every year I buy two identical hanging baskets. I take the plants out of the containers and put them in my two wooden planters. That really works for me because both of my plants are identical and I don’t have to wait for them to grow as the plants are already mature. Most hanging baskets have some plants that trail and that really looks good in my planters.

Hydroponic Grow Lights

by Mary Ann

Are you regarding of starting a hydroponic garden? If so, you are on the verge of embarking on a gardening run a risk. The sheer amount of benefits that comes with hydroponics gardening makes the effort more than worth it. However, many new gardeners find themselves inquiring about the issue of hydroponic grow lights. Here are a few tips on which types of light to try and why they can benefit you.

There are two types of effective hydroponic grow lights available: fluorescent and high density discharge lamps. All of these lamps have their advantages and disadvantages. It all depends on what you’re growing, the size of the plants, and your budget.

When most people think about buying hydroponic grow lights, they only think of how much the initial price will be, plus the installation. However, there are many gardeners who think they received a good ideal on a set of grow lights, only to discover that the utility bills are astronomical. This is why it’s important to research your hydroponic grow lights thoroughly to ensure they meet your budget.
Fluorescent grow lights are especially ideal for smaller plants or seedlings, as they beam continuous, bright, beams of light without creating too much heat. Best of all, most plants respond well to fluorescent lights as well, resulting in a higher growth rate. When it comes to choosing fluorescent lights, go with the usual ones found in stores and avoid the types sold as specialty growing lights, as these may not be as good a quality as normal fluorescent lights. However, if you’re growing taller plants, keep in mind that you’ll need to adapt the height of the lamp as they grow.

High density discharge grow lights are efficient in that they produce efficient light while being easy to install and move if necessary. They an also be fairly pricy, though many garnders believe they’re more than worth it. However, since these types of hydroponic grow lights emit high amounts of heat, you will want to take extra measures to keep the room cooler.

Also keep in mind that the combination of hydroponic grow lights and standing water creates a lot of humidity. This can be very harmful for your plants, as it can make them wilt or rot. Additionally, humidity causes the growth of harmful bacteria. You can prevent this, however, by making sure that the air in your hydroponic greenhouse is constantly circulating. A dehumidifier wouldn’t hurt either. Learn more today about how grow lights can benefit you!

How to Grow Orchids

by Mary Ann

Orchids grow in all types of conditions from those of the rain forest to the arctic circle. With such an ability to adapt to diversity and just about every possible environment, it would seem that they would have no problem being cultivated in homes and gardens.

With selection from the 30,000 species of orchids now identified and hybrids, which number in the 200,000 to 300,000 range, it should be easy to choose the perfect orchid to grow in your particular location.

Still, orchids have the reputation of being hard to grow. Many of them are indeed difficult but there are so many thousands of orchids, it is usually pretty easy to find one that will successfully grow inside or outside wherever you are located.

If you are a beginner, the best choice for growing your first orchid is going to be to start out by purchasing a mature plant.

It is almost impossible to grow orchids from seeds. They need sterile conditions and the presence of a special fungus, without which an orchid can never germinate. This is one of the reasons orchids themselves send out thousands of seeds and only one or two of them will ever germinate.

It is possible to propagate by division and this is an easier method. Just remember that it could take up to eight years before a plant started in this manner flowers.

Orchids don’t follow many general rules but this one applies to most orchids: Place your orchids, whether inside or outside, in a spot where they will get lots of light.

Because light hours are so limited in the winter in colder climates, you will most likely want to install artificial lights to help them grow. While there is some disagreement whether to use grow lights or other types, the choice will depend on the species of orchid you intend to grow. Check at purchase to see if it needs very high intensity lights or not.

Orchids are not one of those plants you can never water and ignore for months at a time.

While they definitely don’t like to be over-watered, orchids do like a once-per-week watering. They should dry out between one watering and the next, but they should never be completely dry.

Also, be careful about watering an orchid that was just replanted or has been disturbed in some way.

Orchids are also not terribly fond of the dry air created in the winter by most of today’s furnaces. You will most likely need to get a humidifier.

Most orchids love hot, humid weather and are not unhappy even with 70% to 80% humidity.

Orchids are fertilizer-lovers. They should be kept fertilized throughout the growing season and especially when they are flowering as most flower for an extended period of time.

There is always controversy among gardeners about what fertilizer is best. Overall, liquid fertilizer is preferred. But you can go completely organic, such as with fish emulsions or fertilizer from worm castings.

Or, you can use synthetic fertilizers such as 10-10-10, 30-10-10 or 10-10-30. Specific orchid fertilizers are also available.

As for the growing medium itself, everyone has their own favorite formula. It also depends on the type of orchid you are growing.

You can use fir bark, coconut fiber, sphagnum moss, peat moss, roots of dried fern, cork, or lava rock, to name several. A few orchids, such as cymbidiums and paphiopedilums, are considered terrestrials and can grow in soil.

The easiest orchids for beginners are Cattleyas, Epidendrumns, Oncidiums, and Laelias.

Whatever type of orchid you plant, be patient. Your efforts will be rewarded in time with beautiful flowers which are long-lasting.

21st Century Care for your garden

by Mary Ann

From time to time, I also get gardening-related questions submitted to us, so every now and then I’ll give you some general gardening tips and strategies too.  Since us plant lovers need to stick together!  So here’s a gardening-related article you should enjoy along with some tools that might help you out…

As summertime is just around the corner, the shorts are about to come out as gardeners everywhere get ready to put some hard work into their beautiful and precious gardens. Summer is the time where many delicious fruits and wholesome vegetables come into season, and make a decorative addition to gardens and plates throughout the world.

Gardeners know that growing your own plants, fruits and vegetables can be very relaxing and therapeutic. However, sometimes it’s not always plain sailing and can sometimes be a big pain, due to problems such as pests, lack of space, weather conditions and risk of disease.

But now in the 21st Century, where technology is the centre point of our lives, we are also noticing such advancements in the horticulture sector to help lessen the strain and chore of maintaining a healthy, beautiful and nourished garden.

21st Century Garden Tools

Water Globe

Accessorise and feed your plants at the same time.

The Water Globe is a gardening care tool that helps feed and nourish your plants when you forget or have no time to. It works by sensing when your plant is thirsty and which therefore prompts it to release the exact amount of water your plant needs. This is great as it eliminates the chances of you over watering and damaging your plants. The globe can continuously feed your plants for 2 weeks and can be used to water both your inside and outside potted garden plants

Strawberry Hanging Basket

Want some sweet delicious strawberries?  Just go into your garden!

The Strawberry Hanging Basket helps you grow delicious Strawberries in your garden from June to September, it also makes as a beautiful outdoor decoration piece. The baskets are only available during April, as the weather in June would be a perfect time for growing Strawberries. The basket comes complete with Strawberry Plants, Slow Release Food Pellets and Rain Gel (water containing compounds and nutrients). This would be a great gift for beginners to keen seasoned gardeners, or maybe even a loved one or friend who love strawberries.

Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter

Grow perfect, delicious and plump tomatoes ready for the summer. You need no ground space at all, just place the seeds within the specially designed bag provided and fill with soil. The bag uses gravitational force in order to help provide the plant with essential nutrients and minerals from the soil and water