Orchid Fertilizer

The fertilizer for orchids, without being a necessary product for the natural growth of our orchids if its use is “desirable”, to see how our orchids grow healthier and flower more profusely. 
Orchids are used to living in a complicated environment, where they have to fight to get the amount of light they need, that is why they live suspended above the trees, near the glass. 

If there is a key to obtain good blooms, it is to use fertilizers for orchids that exist in the market according to the stage in which they are: Growth, Flowering and Maintenance . If you are not a constant person , do not worry, your plants will not die if you neglect to give them their fertilizer. The most practical thing is to buy a fertilizer that favors both growth and flowering. During the repose of a plant, it is advisable to suspend the fertilization or its frequency (If the fertilization is not suspend, at least he must reduce the concentration used).
It may seem that in their natural environment, because they are suspended on the branches, they do not have too many nutrients at their reach … but it is just the opposite, in the forests and jungles where they have their habitat, what are left over are nutrients, fruit of vegetable matter in decomposition that ends up trapped between the branches and on its roots.
If we want to have healthy orchids with blooms lasting over time, we must provide them with the nutrients they need, in the right proportions.

Table Of Contents

  • 1 Specific fertilizers for orchids
  • 2 The fertilizer for orchids, according to the period of growth
    • 2.1 Orchid fertilizer, during the growth period
    • 2.2 Fertilizer to stimulate the flowering of orchids
    • 2.3 Maintenance payment
    • 2.4 Revitalizing fertilizer for orchids

Specific Orchid Fertilizer Composition

On sale there are thousands of fertilizers for plants, but only a few specific for orchids, which are the ones that I recommend you use , because they are specially formulated for these plants. 
The fertilizers for orchids contain three basic nutrients: Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. They may contain other micronutrients, which are always desirable and difficult for the orchid to obtain, if not through the subscriber. 
The difference between the different fertilizers that you can buy in the market, is in the proportion in which these nutrients are present, and they have to do with the growth phase in which the orchid is found.

orchid fertilizer

The fertilizers for orchids are only applied with the moist substrate, or in the irrigation water itself. 
This is due to its high concentration of mineral salts, which in a dry substrate could negatively affect the roots of the orchid.

The fertilizer for orchids, according to the period of growth

Not all orchids are the same and generalizing would be quite counterproductive and wrong. 
However, if we can establish four basic growth periods for orchids:

  • A period of growth, from the end of winter until the flowering begins
  • The period of flowering, that depending on the varieties goes from the spring, until well entered the summer
  • A phase in which the orchid has stopped blooming, and something grows, but it is not how in spring
  • And, some orchids have a period of rest from the end of autumn, until the new beginning of spring.

Orchid fertilizer, during the growth period

Epiphytic orchids, which are the majority of orchids that are marketed from Asia and South America (almost all), have a similar growth process any other plant, with similar nutrient needs. 
During the period of greatest growth , at the end of winter, when the days begin to lengthen, we need fertilizers with a higher concentration of nitrogen. 
These fertilizers are able to stimulate growth, providing adequate micronutrient inputs for the development of leaves and roots , as well as stimulating the appearance of floral rods.

Fertilizer to stimulate the flowering of orchids

Just when the orchids are about to flower, we must change the fertilizer … not because the one we are using is bad, but because we are going to provide other different nutrients, so that the flowering is more spectacular and lasting : we will give food for the flowers . 
The fertilizers to stimulate flowering have a higher concentration of phosphorus and potassium.

Maintenance Balanced fertilizers

When the flowering is over and we do not have the need to stimulate the orchid to generate new tissue, it is when we have to go to the maintenance fertilizers. 
Maintenance fertilizers are called balanced fertilizers. 
Whereas before we talked about fertilizers with an excess of nitrogen or potassium, now we need a balanced fertilizer, in which none of the three basic nutrients is present in a greater proportion than the rest.

Revitalizing fertilizer for orchids

When the orchids are transplanted from a pot or when we are doing some treatment, to eliminate fungi or other parasites, we must eliminate the fertilizer. 
These situations usually leave the orchids weaker. 
Once the situation has been overcome, we can help improve its general condition with specific fertilizers, specially formulated to strengthen the structure of the orchid.

Macronutrients and Micronutrients for Orchids

The nutrients that orchids need are divided into 2 groups :

1. Macro-nutrients

Plants need them in greater quantities. These are:

Nitrogen (N): To intensify the green color and for the development of the foliage.

Phosphorus (P): For the development of new shoots and stimulates flowering.

Potassium (K): To maintain humidity and increase resistance to pests.

Also included are: Calcium (Ka), Magnesium (Mg) and Sulfur (S).

Types of fertilizers

To supply these nutrients, 4 types of fertilizers can be applied:

Soluble liquids

Soluble powders

Osmocote (slow release fertilizer)

Organic fertilizers

Note: granulated fertilizers should not be applied to orchids because they burn the roots.


There are several formulations for orchids. Examples (NOK):

10-50-10; 20-20-20; 10-30-20; 10-30-10; Bayfolan


They are also important nutrients for plants, but they are required in small quantities. They include:

Iron (Fe), Zinc (Zn), Manganese (Mn), Copper (Ku), Boron (B), Molybdenum (Mo), Chlorine (Cl).

Agrochemical products that can be used in orchids:


  • Benomyl – Benlate
  • Dithane M-45
  • Captan
  • Terrazole
  • Afungil
  • Fungicide Organic Bactericide


  • Determined
  • malathion
  • Organic Repellent Insecticide


  • Agrimicin
  • Kocide (no stanhopea)


  • Bayfolan
  • 10-50-10
  • 20-20-20
  • 10-30-20
  • 10-30-10

To treat mites

  • Kelthane

Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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