Having beautiful orchids is every gardener’s dream. You’ve probably heard that they’re hard to grow, and this could be true. However, when you have the right tools, it makes it so much easier.
A little information can go a long way. If your orchids are blooming but not well, it might be time to feed them a little something extra. To do that efficiently, you need the best orchid fertilizer on the market.
This review focuses on the eight best options. From there, you also learn why you need fertilizer and get answers to common questions in the FAQ section.
Table of Contents
- Is Fertilizer Necessary for Orchids?
- What Is the Best Fertilizer for Orchids?
- The 8 Best Fertilizers for Your Orchids
- Best Orchid Fertilizer Reviews
- 1. Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Orchid Food
- 2. Sun Bulb Company 8305 Better Gro Orchid Plus Bloom Booster Fertilizer
- 3. rePotme Orchid Food
- 4. Perfect Plants Slow Release Orchid Fertilizer Pellets
- 5. The Grow Co Organic Ready to Spray Orchid Food Mist
- 6. Orchid Fertilizer by Aquatic Arts
- 7. Grow More 5121 All-Purpose Premium Orchid Fertilizer
- 8. The Grow Co Bloom Booster Fertilizer Pellets for Orchids
- When to Fertilize Orchids?
- How to Fertilize Orchids?
- How Often to Fertilize Orchids?
Is Fertilizer Necessary for Orchids?
Some people feel that they don’t have to fertilize orchids at all. You may have a flower that blooms well if you don’t use fertilizer, but it’s not guaranteed.
Fertilizing orchids is crucial to promote their overall health. Typically, orchids that don’t get fertilized are smaller and have fewer flowers with less growth. However, you can’t over-fertilize them either, or you get burned root tips and dry leaves.
You may be thinking that the plant gets the moisture and nutrients it needs from the earth or soil where it’s planted. This is true, but orchids are exotic, so regular soil might not have all of the nutrition they need.
Often, orchids grow on trees, so they wrap around other plants and have tangled root systems to trap mineral flakes and nutrients.
However, when you bring the orchid into your house (or in a container outside), they are taken from their natural environment. The mixture of peat moss, gravel, and other materials used in pots offers some nutrition as they break down, but it isn’t enough.
What Is the Best Fertilizer for Orchids?
Many gardeners want to use homemade fertilizers, such as tea or milk. These can work, but it’s often better to purchase fertilizer designed for orchids.
Just as with other plants, orchids require phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen. They need large quantities of it, too. These primary nutrients are usually shown on the fertilizer packages as a ratio, such as 10-10-10 NPK.
Nitrogen is required to provide leafy, green growth. Phosphorus is necessary to enhance flowering and root growth. Then, potassium (K) helps to support overall health and growth.
Typically, these fertilizers (NPK) are called complete because they contain the three essential nutrients. With that, if the numbers match, such as 10-10-10, it means there are equal parts of each one, so they’re called balanced fertilizers.
You need a complete and balanced fertilizer to help with orchid growth. There are specialty orchid fertilizers that adjust the ratios for various stages of growth. For example, more nitrogen is necessary to provide new, strong shoots.
Potassium and phosphorus in larger quantities add an extra boost as the plants develop roots and flowers. Typically, the special fertilizers use different ratios, but they build on a complete and balanced base.
In most cases, growers recommend using a 20-20-20 NPK blend. Make sure the packaging claims that it includes the trace elements.
With that, the fertilizers shouldn’t contain urea. It usually washes away too quickly. Typically, non-urea fertilizers are more effective, according to the AOS (American Orchid Society).
However, if your orchid is getting ready to bloom, it needs more nitrogen. Consider a 30-10-10 fertilizer during that time.
The 8 Best Fertilizers for Your Orchids
Below, you can see the chart listing all eight fertilizers. Take a quick look at the most important points and easily compare the products. You may choose to buy directly from here or scroll down to read about a particular fertilizer that you feel is best.
|Pictures||Orchid Fertilizers||NPK Fertilizer Analysis|
|Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Orchid Food||30-10-10|
|Sun Bulb Company 8305 Better Gro Orchid Plus Bloom Booster Fertilizer||11-35-15|
|rePotme Orchid Food||13-4-16|
|Perfect Plants Slow Release Orchid Fertilizer Pellets||13-11-11|
|The Grow Co Organic Ready to Spray Orchid Food Mist||1-1-1|
|Orchid Fertilizer by Aquatic Arts||30-10-10|
|Grow More 5121 All-Purpose Premium Orchid Fertilizer||20-20-20|
|The Grow Co Bloom Booster Fertilizer Pellets for Orchids||13-4-14|
Best Orchid Fertilizer Reviews
1. Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Orchid Food
Miracle-Gro is one of the most popular fertilizers on the market. It has a product designed specifically for orchids and other acid-loving plants. The 8-ounce package contains a powder-like substance that you add to water.
You’re supposed to use it every two weeks or so to have beautiful, colorful orchids. Plus, the product helps to produce a richer color for the leaves and stronger root systems.
Though the manufacturer claims you can use it throughout the growing season, it has an NPK ratio of 30-10-10. This means it has more nitrogen and is ideal for use at the start of the season. That way, the plant has the energy necessary to provide new shoots and blooms.
There are different styles of products, such as food mist spray and spikes. However, most gardeners prefer the water-soluble powder because it’s easy to add it to the watering can. As you water normally, you feed your orchid.
2. Sun Bulb Company 8305 Better Gro Orchid Plus Bloom Booster Fertilizer
If your goal is to have larger and better blooms, then Sun Bulb has you covered. Its orchid fertilizer uses an NPK ratio of 11-35-15, so there’s much more phosphorus than nitrogen and potassium. This is crucial for flowering.
In fact, the company claims that it’s a bloom booster, and that’s just what it does. With that, you may see larger blooms and better colors.
When you buy this product, you get a professionally formulated orchid food, and there’s no urea used at all. In a sense, you get a precise mixture of ingredients that your orchid requires to look its best.
On the package, it states clearly that it includes minor elements, which is what you want. It’s also easy to use because you need 1 teaspoon of the powder and 1 gallon of water. Plus, you only have to feed your orchids once a month.
This product isn’t designed to be a normal fertilizer. Therefore, you may want to get the Orchid Plus version or go with a different product listed below.
3. rePotme Orchid Food
Those who want a fantastic product should try rePotme Orchid Food. It’s a great fertilizer that doesn’t use urea. You don’t require urea in the plant food because it contains nitrogen but is not in the right form. Plants can’t use it immediately and must convert it first.
Typically, orchids don’t grow in soil, so the conversion it takes to convert the urea into food is complicated. Your plant ultimately works harder than it has to before it can get the nutrition it needs.
With the rePotme brand, you should be aware that the fertilizer works best when paired with reverse osmosis. Therefore, you should only use distilled or filtered water. It can be used with tap water, but you should test it first and make sure it’s low alkalinity.
To use this fertilizer, mix ¾ teaspoon in 1 gallon of water. Just water the orchid like normal for the best effect. Since you get 8 ounces, this provides about 64 ounces of fertilizer.
The company claims that it tested the fertilizer before marketing it. However, when searching for the NPK ratio, it was unattainable.
4. Perfect Plants Slow Release Orchid Fertilizer Pellets
The Perfect Plants brand offers a slow-release fertilizer formula in the shape of pellets. These roundish beads are sprinkled right into the orchid pot and break down with time. This could be the easiest way to fertilize your orchids, and it can last up to six months.
You only have to do one application. It breaks down slowly to consistently release nutrients. However, this isn’t a balanced orchid fertilizer. With an NPK ratio of 13-11-11, you get a touch more nitrogen to help with new shoots and blooms.
Still, it is closer to a balanced fertilizer than some of the others on the list. You’re sure to see healthy orchids with larger blooms and more color saturation.
There’s no need to mix the pellets with water. Just toss them into the moss or mulch and watch the flowers grow well.
Ultimately, this is a smart fertilizer. The thick coating reduces itself based on the conditions of the soil. Therefore, the pellets release their nutrients at a steadier pace when the orchid needs it.
5. The Grow Co Organic Ready to Spray Orchid Food Mist
If you want something organic and ready to use, then The Grow Co has you covered. Its orchid food mist comes in a fun spray bottle and only features natural ingredients. They are designed to provide vibrancy, strong roots, and long-term plant health.
Though it doesn’t list the NPK ratio, it claims it is “light” and safe to use on outdoor and indoor types.
This mixture doesn’t contain urea, but it can still gently feed the orchid without root burn. Plus, it is already mixed and comes with its own mister. Use it every week to help your orchids thrive.
With that, this product is designed for all orchid varieties. Therefore, you can use it on cymbidium, Vanda, cattleya, Phalaenopsis, and much more.
Be aware that it smells a bit, but the odor dissipates once it’s sprayed. Since it is made using all-natural ingredients, this should be expected. However, the smell is similar to soil or earth.
6. Orchid Fertilizer by Aquatic Arts
Aquatic Arts also has an orchid fertilizer that works well. This long-lasting formula is designed to last up to one year, depending on how frequently you fertilize and how many plants you have. Just dilute 1 teaspoon of the liquid fertilizer into 2 cups of water.
You’re sure to appreciate the gentle formula from this fertilizer. You can use it every time you water your orchid without the risk of burning the plant.
This product is designed specifically for orchids. You can use it to feed Cattleya, Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis, moth, Vanda, Cymbidium, Oncidium, paphiopedilum, Bat Plants, and much more.
Though it doesn’t list the NPK ratio, the manufacturer claims that it contains the optimum ratio of potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen. That way, you get strong stems, sturdy, roots, colorful blooms, and vibrant leaves.
Since it uses an all-natural formula, you can rest easy. There’s no need to use harsh chemicals and hurt your orchid!
7. Grow More 5121 All-Purpose Premium Orchid Fertilizer
Gardeners who want a balanced fertilizer should go with the Grow More brand. Its all-purpose orchid fertilizer can be used for all types of orchids and at any time of year.
It features a 20-20-20 NPK ratio and comes in a 1.25-pound jar. With that, you can use it for slab-mounted orchids. If your orchid has an exposed root system, this is ideal. Plus, it comes with multiple nitrogen sources for a more slack release.
However, it should be noted that one of those nitrogen sources is urea. As you learned earlier, this isn’t really good for the orchid. Therefore, you may find that it takes longer to see results because the plant has to work harder to convert the urea into food it can use.
Still, the AOS promotes it, as well as most orchid societies within the US. Therefore, it shows that it does what it claims and works well. Just make sure that you’re precise with your feeding schedule and measurements to produce the best results.
8. The Grow Co Bloom Booster Fertilizer Pellets for Orchids
The Grow Co also offers a bloom-boosting fertilizer that comes in the form of pellets. It claims it’s a balanced mixture of nutrients, but the NPK ratio is 13-4-14, which suggests that it focuses more on the root system and plant development.
However, this product does contain sulfur, calcium, and magnesium, which are the secondary minerals orchids crave. Most potting mixes don’t contain them, so it’s a good start.
There’s no urea in this product, so it gently feeds the orchids without making them work harder. You can also protect the plant from root burn, while you encourage spike growth, green leaves, and vibrant blooms.
This product is a slow-release formula, so it lasts long. The granules feed the plants for six months without you having to mix it each time. Poke some holes into the potting mix and sprinkle it around to watch your flower thrive.
You’re sure to appreciate that it works for all varieties of orchids. This includes indoor and outdoor options. Plus, one pouch can feed an orchid 50 times!
When to Fertilize Orchids?
Some people claim that you only have to fertilize when the plant is blooming. Others feel you should do it all the time. Ultimately, the sensitive roots of the orchids mean that they are vulnerable to getting fertilizer burn, so less is best.
Here are the times to fertilize orchids:
If you plan to feed your orchids weekly all year long, it’s best to go with a balanced fertilizer. The label should tell you how often to use it. However, if it doesn’t, you should do a one-fourth-strength mixture.
Therefore, if it says to use 1 teaspoon of fertilizer per 1 gallon of water, you use ¼ teaspoon of the fertilizer instead. It’s often called the feed weak feed week system.
Typically, you should water the plant normally first. Then, mix up a diluted version of the fertilizer solution and water them again.
Alternatively, you can feed your orchids once a month and use a full-strength fertilizer. That means you follow the label directions.
Most experts, though, recommend that you fertilize orchids once every two weeks and only after the blooms drop. This can work, but if you want them to rebloom sooner, it’s best to continue feeding them throughout the year.
Repotting can be a traumatic event for an orchid. After doing so, you should give them a bit more love and care for a few weeks. That way, it gets established in its new home.
For about two weeks after the repotting process, you should mist the leaves of the orchid gently. Do this early in the morning. With that, you may add a light helping of fertilizer with a bit more phosphorus into the water to promote healthy growth.
Typically, you want to fertilize the orchid in the second week after repotting it. When you fertilize with a water-soluble solution, don’t water it first. Just mix the nutrients into the watering can as recommended on the label.
For the first month after repotting, fertilize it every two weeks. If it looks healthy after the second feeding, consider monthly fertilization. However, if it looks sick, you may have shocked its system or overfed it.
Don’t fertilize it the next time and see how it does. If it starts looking healthier, feed it monthly or use a weak solution instead of a full-strength one.
Orchids tend to go dormant in winter. That means they slow down their growing process. It’s not a good idea to feed them while they are “sleeping.” It just wastes the fertilizer and could cause them to come out of dormancy earlier, which could hurt their abilities to produce beautiful flowers.
However, when spring rolls around, it’s time to start feeding them again. Generally, you use a higher nitrogen percentage during this time to ensure that the shoots and leaves are strong and healthy.
Once the flowers start blooming, it’s not often necessary to feed them. However, you may fertilize the orchid during its blooming season. That way, it continues to produce beautiful blooms throughout its growing season.
How to Fertilize Orchids?
The way you fertilize orchids depends on the product you choose. For example, if you purchase spikes, the nutrients are already inside. Just insert the spike close to the orchid, following the instructions on the package.
Those who use pellets (slow-release formulas) should sprinkle the food pellets around the base of the plant. Make sure it is close to the base but on the potting medium and not the orchid. From there, check periodically to make sure the plant didn’t eat all the nutrients.
If you choose a granular or powder fertilizer, you must mix it with water before you can use it. Most manufacturers have a specific amount of food to use. Follow the directions thoroughly to mix it together.
How Often to Fertilize Orchids?
The key is to fertilize consistently. Most fertilizer manufacturers suggest that you feed the plant weekly and dilute the mixture. Some feel that you should do it every two weeks or once a month. It might take time to figure out what’s best for your plant.
1. Should I Fertilize My Orchid While It Is Blooming?
You can fertilize your orchid when it’s in bloom, but it isn’t necessary. If you notice that the blooms are faded or not very big, a fertilizer with more nitrogen (bloom-boosting formula) could be beneficial.
2. Should I Water First and then Fertilize Orchids?
Yes, you should water the orchid first before you fertilize. If you’re using a water-soluble fertilizer, consider moistening the potting medium first. Otherwise, water it as normal and then add the granules or pellets.
3. Can I Use Orchid Fertilizer on Other Plants?
Yes, orchid fertilizer works well on other household plants that like acidity. However, don’t use this type of fertilizer on any plant you plan to eat later.
4. Can You Use Coffee Grounds to Fertilize Orchids?
Orchids tend to need lesser amounts of fertilizer as they’re growing. To do this, take your used coffee grounds and steep them in 5 gallons of water. Leave it overnight, drain the grounds from the water, and use it to moisten the plants.
If your goal is to have bigger and better blooms, the best fertilizer for orchids is the Miracle-Gro Water-soluble orchid food. It’s inexpensive and easy to use. Plus, there are different ways to buy it, such as a two-pack of containers or one 8-ounce package.
It’s gentle enough to use at every feeding, and it works during the orchid’s rest periods, too. With that, you can use it on any acid-loving plant and get beautiful results.
Those who prefer a balanced blend without urea should consider the orchid food from Perfect Plants. It does contain a bit more nitrogen than the other ingredients, but it’s the closest to a balanced fertilizer available that didn’t contain urea.
Plus, it’s easy to use because you just toss the slow-release pellets onto the potting medium. It can last six months, and you don’t have to mix it or remember to use it when you water.
Either of these products can work wonders for your orchids. Consider buying one or both today so that you can enjoy your beautiful plants for many years to come.
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