Fertilizing orchids is important for successful plant growth and blooms.
Unlike most plants that absorb nutrients from the soil surrounding their roots, orchids naturally live on trees, trapping material and soil particles blown through the air. This material is then absorbed through their roots.
When they are not in their natural environment, it is important to provide the nutrients the plants need. This means feeding the appropriate fertilizer, in the right amount, at the correct time.
In this post, we are going to consider what to look for in an orchid fertilizer and a few of our favorite options.
What is the best fertilizer for orchids?
The quick answer is that orchids require a well-balanced fertilizer. What that means is an equal amount of the three main nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. A good target to aim for would be plant food that has an NPK Ratio of 20-20-20.
Here is a quick preview of our top 5 options
- Miracle-Gro Orchid Food
- Schultz Water Soluble Orchid Food
- TeaDrops Liquid Plant Food & Flower Fertilizer Tea Packets
- Jack’s Classic 20-20-20 All-Purpose
- Schultz All Purpose 10-15-10 Plant Food Plus
More about each fertilizer in a moment, let’s now talk about what to look for in the best orchid fertilizer.
What to look for in an orchid fertilizer
A well-balanced fertilizer, such as a 20-20-20 is the best option for indoor orchids.
These numbers found on a container/bag of fertilizer are the N-P-K ratio; this ratio lets the consumer know the percentage, by weight, of nutrients in the bag.
In this formula, a 10-pound bag of fertilizer would contain the following: 2 pounds of nitrogen, 2 pounds of phosphorus, and 2 pounds of potassium.
A balanced fertilizer like 20-20-20 would ensure the orchid plant is receiving similar amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium and all of the other trace elements necessary for plant growth.
Nitrogen is one of the key nutrients needed for plant growth with its main responsibility being vegetative growth. It is assimilated in the plant into amino acids which are the building blocks for protein; it is a major component of chlorophyll and helps to make the foliage green, and nitrogen is necessary for many enzymatic reactions within the plant.
Phosphorus is a component in DNA and RNA (the genetic building blocks within plant cells) and is needed for root growth and flowering.
Potassium works more indirectly than the other two nutrients. It is not a component of any plant parts but activates many of the enzymatic reactions that occur within the plant, making it imperative for overall plant health.
When it comes to choosing fertilizers, the market is flooded with various options: orchid specific food, all-purpose fertilizer, synthetic plant food, organic products, granular and liquid fertilizers (to name a few).
This abundance of options allows consumer preference to weigh heavily when picking a plant food to fertilize their indoor orchid plants.
You may also enjoy reading: How To Revive A Dying Orchid – 5 Easy To Follow Steps
A Closer Look At My Favorite Picks
- Nutrient Ratio: 30-10-30
- Synthetic blend
- Indoor/Outdoor use
- Apply every 2 weeks during the active growing season
Does Miracle-Gro’s Orchid Food have what it takes to be considered the best plant food for your orchids? We think it just might.
Let’s take a closer look.
When it comes to synthetic plant food, Miracle-Gro is a proven winner at successfully fertilizing and optimizing the health of plants. This plant food brand is a market leader and can available for purchase at most retailers.
Miracle-Gro Orchid Food is a 30-10-10 orchid specific blend containing more nitrogen than a balanced fertilizer to give plants a deep, vibrant leaf color.
Application Tips: Dilute ¼ teaspoon in one gallon of water, and use to water plants every 2 weeks when the orchid is actively growing; fertilize every 4 weeks during periods of rest.
For maximum benefit, water the surface roots only – avoiding the foliage – and allow the water to run completely through the potting mix and out the bottom of the pot to minimize salt buildup.
- Nutrient Ratio: 20-20-15
- Water Soluble
Next up we have Schultz Water Soluble Orchid Food.
This fast-acting, synthetic fertilizer contains an N-P-K ratio of 20-20-15 with micronutrients to provide balanced nutrition.
Schultz’s Orchid Food contains a perfect combination of nutrients and is specifically formulated, engineered and researched to create a product tailored to meet the needs of orchid plants.
How To Use: Mix a ¼ teaspoon in a gallon of lukewarm water for frequent feedings; for plants that are watered less often (1-2 times per month) use ½ teaspoons per gallon of water.
To simulate nutrients received through rainfall, fertilize with this product every time plants are watered.
You may also enjoy reading: 25 Interesting Facts About Orchids
- Easy to use
- Indoor/Outdoor use
- Specifically formulated for Orchid use
Next on our list is the TeaDrops Liquid Plant Food & Flower Fertilizer Tea Packets. No this isn’t tea, this is a unique way to package plant food for your brighter more colorful orchids.
A unique, natural product by Earthworm Technologies, offer consumers an organic fertilizer option that encourages sustainability.
TeaDrops packets contain 100% all natural worm casings harvested from worms fed a specific diet of composted vegetables, fruits, and wood waste.
The worm castings are then enhanced with a proprietary blend of organic nutrients, sea minerals, and humic acids and packaged into teabag-like pouches.
The packets also provide a vast array of trace plant nutrients, natural plant growth hormones, and beneficial microorganisms.
How To Use: Instead of measuring and diluting product in water, drop a single packet into a gallon of water and steep for 4-24 hours; remove the packet and use to feed orchids every time watering is needed.
Yes, it is just that easy. Just like making a cup of tea, but for your plants.
The product is easy to use, child and pet safe, and the nutrients are immediately available for plant uptake!
TeaDrops are formulated to work great on potted plants, cut flowers and even hard to maintain plants like orchids.
- Nutrient Ratio: 20-20-20
- All Purpose Plant Food
A balanced, all-purpose, synthetic plant food blended with an enhanced micronutrient package, Jack’s Classic 20-20-20 All Purpose Fertilizer is considered to be an industry standard by professional growers.
The 1:1:1 nutrient ratio makes the product good for any stage of plant growth. This ratio of N-P-K provides adequate nitrogen for chlorophyll production and rapid green up, as well as quick leaf expansion; phosphorus and potassium encourage excellent root and shoot growth.
How To Use: Mix 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of granules per gallon of water, applying fertilizer every 1-2 weeks for optimum results.
When applied as directed, a high safety factor prevents foliage burning.
- Nutrient Ratio: 10-15-10
- All Purpose Plant Food
- Indoor/Outdoor Use
- Feed every 2 or 3 weeks
A higher concentration of phosphorus encourages new plant growth and robust roots. It feeds plants as nature does by providing nutrients directly to the roots. An easy to use dropper makes measuring simple.
How To Use: Mix 7 drops of the concentrated solution per quart (or one dropper per half-gallon) of water, then use each time orchid plants need water.
Additional Reading: Do Orchids Like Humidity?
Are Coffee Grounds Good For Orchids?
Yes, coffee grounds are good for orchids. Not only are they a good source of nitrogen, but they can also aid in repelling bugs such as snails. You can either apply it directly to the soil or compost it first.
It is important to note that fresh coffee is acidic and will affect the pH level of your soil. For that reason when using them for orchids be sure to use coffee grounds that have been used rather than fresh grounds.
Who knew drinking a cup of coffee could result in beautiful orchids in your garden?
Are Eggshells Good For Orchids?
Yes, eggshells are good for orchids. Many gardeners don’t know that eggshells can be a great source of calcium and potassium. Nutrients that will make your plants thrive.
Simply save your eggshells from breakfast, break them up into small pieces and spread them along the base of your plant.
Is Miracle-Gro Good For Orchids?
Yes, Miracle-Gro is great for Orchids. One that we really like is Miracle-Gro’s Orchid Food. This is a water-soluble plant food with an NPK of 30-10-30. In addition, as most products by Miracle-Gro, it is extremely easy to use.
Can I use rose fertilizer for my orchids?
No, I would not recommend using rose fertilizer to feed your orchids. Orchids need a well-balanced meal with a nutrient ratio of 20-20-20. A high amount of these nutrients is needed to be both healthy and to be able to produce colorful flowers.
Plant food that is designed for roses usually has a much lower nutrient ratio and thus wouldn’t be the best choice. I personally would try an all-purpose option before turning to a rose fertilizer.
The thought of growing orchids at home can be intimidating to many people. If the appropriate variety is chosen for the intended environment, and some proper care given to the plant, it is possible for the average homeowner to grow beautiful orchids.
Applying one of the fertilizers listed above will help to ensure plants look their best and produce beautiful blooms to enjoy.
There you have it! Our top 5 options.
What do you think is the best fertilizer for orchids? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.