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Orchid Fertilizer FAQ

How best to fertilize your orchids can be confusing but it doesn't need to be.

How Do I Mix FEED ME?

  • Mix liquid FEED ME! at 1 oz/gallon in the fall/winter and 1.5 oz/gallon in the spring and summer. One ounce is equal to 2 tablespoons.
  • Mix granular RO/Rain/Tap FEED ME! at 3/4 teaspoon/gallon in the fall/winter and 1 teaspoon/gallon in the spring/summer.
  • Mix granular Well Water FEED ME! at 1/2 teaspoon/gallon in the fall/winter and 3/4 teaspoon/gallon in the spring/summer.
  • If using a fertizer injector, mix the stock solution proportional to the ratio of the injector. For example, for a 1:3 injector you would want to add 3 times as much fertilizer as you would if feeding directly.

What is the best way to fertilize orchids?

  • Water orchids first.
  • Use a solution of fertilizer and water 3 out of every 4 weeks of each month.
  • Flush pots with ample water on the 4'th week and do not fertilize. This will leach out salts left behind in the media.

How much fertilizer should be applied?

  • When in doubt, too little is better than too much.
  • Don't try to make up for not fertilizing by giving a hefty amount all at once, instead try to fertilize "weekly weakly".
  • Many orchids like a weekly solution of about 125ppm Nitrogen in the fall/winter with more in the spring/summer when orchids are in their most active growth (about 200ppm). The mixing instructions for FEED ME! above provide this amount.

What type of fertilizer is best?

  • The best fertilizer is the one that complements the water that you use and the media the orchid is growing in.
  • The fertilizer formula studied at Michigan State University (MSU) is a complete formula including critical micronutrients where the effectiveness of the formula has been studied and published.
  • For reverse osmosis (RO), rain and tap water use a complete fertilizer that is urea-free such as our MSU RO/Rain/Tap Water Version FEED ME!.
  • For well or hard water use a complete fertilizer without added Calcium and Magnesium such as our MSU Well Water Version FEED ME!.
  • Too much nitrogen can lead to nice foliage but few flowers.
  • Typical pellet fertilizers deliver food at an uneven rate, breaking down very quickly in the heat and and very slowly in the cold. If their coating is damaged or it is very hot or wet, entirely too much food can be released too quickly. Pellets also prevent flushing with clear water to leach out salts that build up in the media.

Does MSU Fertilizer have to be used with Reverse Osmosis (RO) water?

  • No. MSU RO/Rain/Tap Water Version Fertilizer is good with any water that is low in alkalinity such as most tap water, rain water and reverse osmosis (RO) water.
  • MSU Well Water Version Fertilizer is good for hard water from wells.
  • Water that is extremely high in alkalinity or tastes salty isn't suitable for watering orchids no matter what fertilizer you use. Households in areas where the water is unsuitable for orchids should consider solutions such as rain barrels or filters.

What about Bloom Booster formulas?

  • There has been a good deal of debate over the benefit of bloom booster formula fertilizer for orchids. While some people swear by them, there has not been scientific proof to date of their effectiveness.
  • The current research indicates that the type of phosphorus is more important than the quantity. The type of phosphorus in the authentic MSU formulas is a big part of what makes it so effective for orchids.