Things You'll Need
Orchids are tropical plants that exist in more than 25,000 varieties. They grow in a wide range of environments, from arctic tundras to rain forests, writes Dr. Leonard Perry, a University of Vermont horticulturist. Some types grow in soil, while others grow on the sides of trees, taking their nourishment from the air and moisture around the trees, as well as from bits of decaying organic matter. As with all plants, orchids require nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to grow. Although they require little fertilizing, providing proper nutrients will help them to thrive, and you can make your own orchid fertilizer.
Place ½ lb. used coffee grounds into a 5-gallon bucket. Fill the bucket with water and allow the mixture to sit overnight. Filter out the grounds with cheesecloth. Discard the grounds, keeping the liquid.
Heat 10 broken eggshells in a 200-degree oven for 30 minutes to kill bacteria. Allow the eggshells to cool. Grind them in a food processor, breaking them up to a fine powder if possible. Place the ground up shells in a jar with water and allow them to soak for five days. Filter out the powder with cheesecloth and discard it. The remaining water is a rich source of calcium for plants.
Dilute 1 tsp. plain molasses in 1 pint water and mix vigorously. Molasses will give the plant additional potassium for essential growth processes.
Add equal amounts of coffee grounds water, eggshell water and molasses water to a 5-gallon bucket.
Mix the ingredients thoroughly.
Dilute the solution by half and apply to the orchid growing medium in place of watering. Fertilize monthly with the mixture. Store any left over mixture in covered containers in a refrigerator
Coffee grounds contain phosphorus and potassium that are essential to plant processes, as well as small amounts of nitrogen. Trace elements of calcium, magnesium and copper also are found in coffee grounds.
Orchids benefit from the addition of fish emulsion to their growing medium. The infusion of nitrogen can be approximated without the expense by using fish tank water before it is cleaned. This fish waste is a source of nitrogen. Dilute the water by half before using it.
Ensure that the fertilizer solution can drain well from the plant. Orchids don't do well with their roots in standing water.
J. Lang Wood
J. Lang Wood's stories, essays and articles have been seen in journals across the country and online. She is a published short story and essay writer who specializes in travel topics, pets, medical subjects, Florida history, environmental issues, political and business topics. She is the author of the novel "Strays" and holds an Associate of Arts in chemistry from College of DuPage.