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The 3 tips you should follow if you want to make your orchid grow a new spike

If you’re a novice orchid collector, you might have heard a thing or two about how difficult it is to get orchids to rebloom. While it might be tricky to get these delicate, showy plants to flower once more, it’s not altogether impossible. You can get your orchid to push out new spikes if you consistently give it the conditions that it needs to flower. Wondering what the said conditions are? Ahead, we break down everything that you need to know about growing orchids and getting them to form new spikes.

Orchid stem

What you need to know about orchid spikes

How do I know that my orchid is growing a new stem?

So, first of all, what exactly are spikes? Spikes are the part of the orchid where the flowers and buds grow. Sometimes, spikes can be confused for aerial roots. Orchid roots (which need little soil) tend to be rounder at the tip and less green. In contrast, spikes feature pointy, thin shapes with mitten-shaped tips, eventually growing anywhere between four to six inches.

How long does it take a new orchid spike to grow?

If you notice a spike forming, it helps to be patient, as this fixture on your orchid can take around three months to grow. For healthy spikes, you’ll want to have a healthy orchid in the first place. Ideally, you want to give your plant plenty of bright, indirect light, ample watering, and moderate feeding. Generally speaking, the younger your plant, the less likely it will be to put out multiple spikes. Due to different genetics, some orchids may be predisposed to growing multiple spikes, while others will only push out one set of blooms per growing season. Spikes usually wither away with spent flowers, but that may not always be the case.

blooming orchid beside a bright window

How to make an orchid grow a new spike

Keep your orchid cool, but not too cool.

Orchid spikes usually grow when days are short and the temperatures drop during the autumn and winter. The sweet spot for inducing blooms in orchids is generally around 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If you keep your orchid indoors, it might not experience cold enough temperatures to develop flowers. There are a few things that you can do to give your plant the cool temperatures it needs to grow new spikes. First of all, you can bring your plant outside, but just be mindful that orchids are sensitive to temperatures below 50 degrees. Alternatively, you can leave your plant in a cool area of your home — close to a cold window is ideal. While you could turn on air conditioning, keep an eye out for drafts that could damage your orchid.

Cut orchid spikes once blooms are spent.

After your orchid has bloomed, you can cut off the flower spike from the base of the plant to redirect your plant’s energy towards healthy growth. If you’re working with a healthy stalk, you can leave on more of the stem — cut directly beneath the lowest flower and above the next node. But if you’re dealing with withered or yellowing spikes, it’s best to cut from the base of the plant. However you choose to cut your orchid spikes, make sure to use clean and sterile pruning shears to avoid spreading any fungal or bacterial diseases.

Though it’s worth a shot trying out this technique, note that not every orchid collector believes that this method works. Some believe that keeping old spikes leaves the orchid with the potential for more blooms. (This is especially true if your orchid grows another spike in addition to its original one.) This camp of growers is more focused on maximizing factors such as light, temperature, and fertilizing.

Fertilize your orchid.

Orchids can survive without food, but you may run into deficiencies at some point. Luckily, you won’t need too much fertilizer to keep your plant happy; in fact, over-fertilizing can lead to burnt leaves and roots, so you’ll want to dilute your plant food with water and go for quarter-strength feeding. To encourage orchid spikes, apply a balanced fertilizer during the growing season and a bloom-boosting formula during the fall. If your spikes look leggy, try giving them a phosphorus-rich fertilizer to help your plant form thicker ones.

While orchids can be tricky to figure out, you can get yours to spike and bloom by adjusting some factors. After starting with a healthy plant, try placing your orchid in lower temperatures, cutting spent spikes, and upping your fertilizer dosage. With patience and persistence, you’ll be on your way to enjoying beautiful orchid blooms once more.

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