By Lynn Langley, for Let's Talk Plants! February 2022.
Orchid guru Chuck McClung shared his knowledge about orchids and that thorny issue of getting orchids to rebloom. Clearly an orchid enthusiast, he presented a wealth of information to help guide the amateur orchid grower.
There are three primary things to consider when attempting to get orchids to bloom again:
- Variety of orchid
- Native habitat
- Is it possible to recreate the native conditions: what does the plant do over the course of a year and what is normal for the plant?
It is important to be able to differentiate between young leaves and old leaves since it can help to identify the health of a plant. Old leaves can be yellow and drop without indicating poor health in the orchid.
Orchids have the reputation of requiring special care. According to Chuck, orchids are not difficult – just different. Four things that are now known about orchids will help with their care.
- the amount of light required depends upon the specific variety of orchid. Phalaenopsis orchids’ native habitat is like the interior of a house, so they are one of the more successful varieties for home growing.
- High elevation orchids become used to cool temperatures, while lower elevation orchids have adapted to warmer temperatures.
- Cymbidium orchids prefer cooler temperatures so do not thrive inside a home environment (Point Loma is a great place to grow Cymbidiums).
- Orchids like humidity.
- They are epiphytes. Most orchids live in trees in their native habitats so the way to water is very different.
Chuck then went on to describe five reasons that orchids fail to rebloom.
1. Lack of adequate light.
a. Overwatering is a serious issue. Don’t water too frequently, dry is better than wet.
b.Roots have a spongy layer designed to absorb small amounts of moisture (from living in trees) and then dry out.
c. It is a good idea to dilute fertilizer in water.
d.Make sure to provide humidity. They need to be watered more often when actively growing leaves.
e. The purpose of potting medium is to provide the proper balance of water and air for that plant since water displaces air so too much water can suffocate the roots.
3. Maintain the correct temperature.
4. Pots, repotting techniques and planting medium are important choices.
a. Terracotta pots are not recommended since the roots will stick to the terracotta, tearing when repotted.
b. Plastic pots are preferred, especially with a large drain hole. The grade of the potting medium is also important.
c. The higher the quality of the soil, the better for the orchid.
d.When repotting it is important to know if they are monopodial (one main shoot to grow leaves and flowers during its entire life) or polypoidal (new shoots are created for blooming).
e. Never repot while blooming.
5. The state of the orchid. The origin and health of the orchid will determine if or when it will rebloom. It is important to keep an eye on new growth. If it looks unhealthy check the roots.
Chuck’s book, How Orchids ReBloom, contains all this information as well as much more. It can be ordered through his website,
It is also available at Walter Anderson Nurseries.
Now that you've read the report, do you want to see the whole meeting? It's on our Youtube channel here: Chuck McClung How Orchids Rebloom