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How to Stimulate Root Growth in Orchids? (4 Ways)

For many homeowners, orchids are the first plant that comes to mind when looking for a beautiful plant to spice up and liven up your living space.

These plants are long-lived, feature fascinating flowers and foliage, and can add flavor to your home environment with their pleasant fragrance.

Orchid in full bloom is one of the most beautiful sights you can see in anywhere in the world and having it in your own home is priceless.

However, as they’re originally tropical plants, orchids need some special care to thrive in a home.

When growing orchids, most people focus on their flowers and leaves, paying little or no attention to the plant’s roots.

Nevertheless, the beauty and the appeal of the entire orchid will depend on the health of its root system.

Below, I’ll explain how to stimulate root growth in orchids and ensure the plant gets everything it needs to thrive.

So, let’s dive in!

How to Stimulate Root Growth in Orchids?

When they grow in the wild, orchids commonly don’t require soil to get nutrients and moisture.

Instead, they grow unencumbered and free air roots which they use to attach themselves to various objects such as trees and rocks.

However, growing them in a controlled home environment commonly involves potting the plants and using soil mixtures, which means that they need special care to stay hydrated and healthy.

The lack of proper maintenance can cause the roots to dry, become, mushy and brownish, and eventually rot, causing the orchid to dehydrate.

This is why you have to pay particular attention to promoting root growth in your orchids and creating conditions in which they can thrive.

To do so, you should learn about what the orchid roots need and how to provide them with everything necessary for them to properly function.

Warmth

The key thing orchids need to grow healthy roots is a warm environment. In natural surroundings, orchids develop new roots during the warm parts of the year, at the end of winter, spring, and summer.

As tropical plants, from hot climate parts of the world, orchids need excessive heat.

This means, that even if the conditions at your home may feel nice and warm for you, it may not be so for your orchids.

That’s why you should look to provide them with extra heat, especially around the roots. Look to set the temperature to at least 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The easiest way to achieve this is by using the seedling heat mat which can raise the temperature in the root zone of your orchid by 10 to 15 degrees compared to standard room temperature.

This increase in temperature should quickly result in a visible increase in root growth.

Moisture

Since they are tropical plants, orchids, besides warmth, also enjoy moist environments.

For their roots to properly develop and grow, they need a good level of moisture around them.

However, you have to be careful not to water them too much, as excessive moisture can also be damaging and cause the root to rot.

There are several ways to provide orchid roots with the proper level of moisture and thus promote their growth.

You can increase the levels of moisture around the root zone by resetting the plant on sphagnum moss or similar water-retentive media.

You can also use small pebbles or anything else that will lock in the moisture in the soil.

Another thing you can do is suspend the orchid above water, so it hangs over it but doesn’t touch the water.

For these purposes, you can use a glass or vase filled with distilled water.

Plant Hormones

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During their growth, plants, including orchids, produce auxin, a hormone that naturally promotes the development of the root system.

Auxin also stimulates the production of cytokinin, another hormone that causes cell divisions and further helps plant growth.

In home conditions, you can promote root growth by using supplements that will provide an additional amount of these hormones.

These include seaweed extracts and rooting hormones that you can probably purchase in your local plant care store.

When using these supplements, be careful not to overdo them as excessive amounts can cause mutations and weaken the plant’s growth.

For newly-repotted orchids with weakened roots, adding hormones once every two weeks is more than enough.

If the orchid is healthy, you don’t need to do this more than once a month.

Nutrients

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The roots of your orchid will benefit from the extra nutrients you provide for them, such as phosphorous and potassium.

Lightly feeding the orchid with a balanced NPK fertilizer will promote root growth and help its healthy development.

For these purposes, most of the successful owners use Kelpak or Kelpmax.

However, pay attention to the fact that you should only lightly fertilize your orchids. Stick to the adage “weekly, but weakly.”

So, to foster root growth, you should fertilize your orchids only once a week with a quarter to half-strength fertilizer solution.

Do this for three weeks, and on the fourth week, instead of using fertilizer, flush the potting medium to get rid of any salt build-up.

Plus, make sure that you use only high-quality water for your orchids, with no chloride and minimal salt content. Distilled water or rainwater should do fine.

Conclusion

In their natural environment, orchids will grow roots every year, provided they have warm conditions and moisture around the base of the stem.

However, when you grow orchids at your home, it will often be up to you to create these perfect conditions for healthy root growth.

Healthy roots are the key to the proper development of the orchid, especially its beautiful flowers and foliage.

When the roots have a favorable environment to develop in, the whole plant will be properly hydrated and receive enough nutrients to grow.

This may require some effort and a small chunk of your time, but the result is highly rewarding as you can watch your orchid develop into a gorgeous plant, which is likely why you decided to grow it in the first place.

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