Orchids are beautiful flowering plants that can grow in almost any climate that accepts such types of plants. They come in a wide range of colours, sizes and fragrances, and can grow and thrive with the right fertiliser. The three main ingredients in fertilisers are nitrogen, which promotes plant growth; phosphorus, which encourages flowering; and potassium, which makes plant roots strong and healthy. Boiled liquid eggshells and dry leaves are two effective homemade fertilisers that work well on orchids. In their native habitat, orchids feed off of whatever is closest, including animal droppings, decomposing leaves and minerals "born of rainwater."
- Skill level:
Things you need
- 20 eggshells
- Kitchen mallet
- One gallon of water
- Large pot with lid
- Spray bottle
- Plastic or glass container with cover
- Dried oak leaves
- 5-gallon bucket
Dry out 20 eggshells and crush them with a kitchen mallet. Boil them in one gallon of water in a large pot on your stove. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to steep for eight hours.
Strain the mixture, making sure all eggshells are removed. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle for easy feeding. Spray the solution into the soil.
Store the remaining mixture in a plastic or glass container. Use it once a week for best results.
Collect a large number of oak leaves, and allow them to dry if they are not already so. Fill a five-gallon bucket a third of the way with oak leaves. Add water until it reaches the top of the bucket.
Find a sunny spot in your home, yard or garage. Leave the bucket there until the mixture becomes the colour of iced tea. This should take about a week.
Add boiling water to the mixture if it is taking more than a week to change colour. Use the solution once the mixture is cold, and apply it once or twice a month. Leftover oak leaves can be used as mulch.
Tips and warnings
- Orchids that are growing on tree bark will require fertiliser with more nitrogen than phosphorous and potassium; try a recipe of 30-10-10 respectively. The bacteria that decomposes the bark requires a lot of nitrogen, which does not leave much for the orchid.
- Always water your orchid before you feed it. Used tea bags can be applied once a month in the spring and summer. Apply right after first blooming of flowers for best results.
- Dissolve any ground or granulated orchid fertiliser you might use in water before applying to the plant. Such fertilisers can kill orchids if applied directly.
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