Orchids Fertilizer - Knowledgebase Question

millbrae, Ca
Question by drmagsaysay
January 27, 2010
I use for my cymbidiums 6-30-30 for bloom & 30-10-10 for growth. Can I not use 6-30-30 for my cattleya, denbrobium, miltona, phaelanopsis, for bloom as well? Will it hurt them? Normally, 29-9-9 is recommended instead. What is the reason behind it and will it promote bloom also instead of just growth to these other orchids? Also, can I mix fertilizer w/ physan 20? Thank you.


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Answer from NGA
January 27, 2010

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In their native habitat, orchids scavenge nutrients from whatever happens to be nearby: decomposing leaves, bird or animal droppings, or minerals from rainwater. You can help your orchid to grow faster and bloom sooner by feeding it the right fertilizers. Look for products that contain nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), along with trace elements such as iron.

Potassium (K) is mainly responsible for the control of root and stem development. Phosphorous (P) for flower production, and Nitrogen (N) for healthy vegetative growth. The amount of feeding depends on the time of year and general health of the plant. Research shows that feeding should begin with more Nitrogen just when the new shoots are showing, more Phosphorous and Potassium being necessary towards the end of the season.

Following these recommendations, you should use your 30-10-10 as a general fertilizer, switching to the 6-30-30 when flower stems are developing, which will help promote larger flowers. All your orchids can be fed with these fertilizer formulations. It won't hurt any of the orchids you've listed. There's really not much difference between a 30-10-10 and a 29-9-9 so use whichever you have on hand.

Physan 20 is not formulated for mixing with fertilizer. Wait a week or two after feeding your plants to apply your physan 20 dilution.

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