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Vermont Garden Journal: Get Your Orchids To Bloom Again
The moth orchid is the most widely available and easiest orchid to get to bloom again. The process, though, does have several steps.

One gardening question I hear often is, "How do I get my orchids to bloom again?" Here is a tutorial for how to get the easiest and most widely available orchid type - the moth orchid - to do just that.

Moth orchids need an indirectly lit, bright area, such as an East-facing window, to grow well. Too little light, and they won't bloom. Too much light and the leaves get dark green or even scorched. The potting medium for moth orchids is a mix of bark and sphagnum moss. It's important to keep the medium evenly moist, but not wet. Let it dry out a little between waterings.

Moth orchid flower spikes should form now and bloom from winter until spring. To initiate flower spike formation, the orchid needs about a 15-degree temperature differential from day to night. That's why many moth orchids don't bloom again indoors because our indoor temperatures stay steady in fall and winter.

Try moving the orchid into a cooler, protected spot where it won't freeze, such as an unheated porch, for a week. Once flowering, don't over water or the flowers will fold and drop. Once the flowers fade naturally, cut the flower spike off at the base and transplant your moth orchid into an orchid pot with a potting mix. Orchid pots have openings on the sides to promote air flow. Fertilize your moth orchids every other week when they're actively growing. Reduce to monthly when they're dormant.

This week's tip: Cover your strawberry beds now with three- to four-inch thick layer of straw or chopped leaves. This will protect the plants from heaving out of the ground in winter during freeze and thaw cycles.

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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