How To Care For A Mini Orchid

How To Care For A Mini Orchid

Overall, the cultural care for mini orchids is exactly the same as for regular-sized orchids. They are basically the same plants, only smaller. The main differences in the approach to a mini orchid’s care are that they will obviously need less water and less fertilizer. The orchid bark used for regular-sized orchids may be too big for mini orchids, so you will be better off using sphagnum moss for the latter.

In this article, we will discuss how to care properly for mini orchids, so if you are considering adding one of these to your collection, keep reading.

What are mini orchids?

Before we dive into the proper care of mini orchids, let us first discuss what exactly mini orchids are.

Mini orchids belong to the same large family as regular orchids, but there are only a handful of orchid species that can be categorized as mini. They are noticeably smaller than most orchids, and also have smaller flowers. Rather than just being baby versions of regular orchids, mini orchid species are actually genetically smaller than other orchids. 

These orchids are naturally occurring species and not genetically modified plants.

What are some examples of mini orchids?

There are many different species of mini orchids, but most are quite rare and only a few will be available at any given time in flower shops or nurseries.

The terms ‘dwarf orchid’ and ‘darling orchid’ can refer to any mini orchid, but these are not specific to the genus of the plant. If you are going to buy a mini orchid, ask the vendor to name the plant so that you have an easier time researching its specific care.

The following are the most common and most popular mini orchid species:

  • Masdevallia orchids have unique-looking, thin, elongated flowers. If you want a mini orchid to catch the eye of your house guests, this is the plant for you.
  • The Platystele orchid has very small flowers that can barely be seen with the naked eye. The petals on the flowers are so thin that you can almost see through them.
  • Lepanthes orchids can be seen in the wild, and have orange and yellow flowers.
  • Pleurothallis orchids can produce more flowers than the typical orchid, and also do not have the typical orchid shape. Their hundreds of flowers make the Pleurothallis perfect for flower arrangements.
  • The Dracula orchid has dark-colored flowers that make it aesthetically pleasing and a striking choice for home decor.

Mini orchid care

1. Light requirements

Mini orchids like the kind of bright, indirect light they would get from a windowsill. They cannot be placed under direct sunlight because this can lead to sun-damaged foliage.

You will know that the plant is getting too much sun if its leaves are turning red or yellow. Do not worry, though, because all your need to do is transfer the plant to a different location.

If the only available window is letting in light that is too harsh, you can place a sheer curtain over the window to diffuse the light. Choose a south- or east-facing window; avoid west-facing windows if you can.

2. Watering requirements

Mini orchids require less water than regular-sized orchids. In the winter, you will only need to water your orchid once a week. Pour distilled or filtered water over the potting medium and make sure it is saturated, but also ensure that any excess water flows out from the bottom of the pot.

During the warmer months, water the orchid twice a week because the soil will be drying at a much faster rate.

Because orchids like humidity levels between 70 and 80 percent, you may need to mist them once in a while to keep their environment humid. You can also use a pebble tray with water for this. Place the orchid’s pot on top of the pebble tray, so that as the water evaporates, it will moisten the soil and the foliage of the plants.

You can also get a humidifier to automatically regulate the humidity inside your home without you needing to worry about it.

3. Temperature requirements

The mini orchid prefers temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime, but it can tolerate temperatures between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

Keep the plant away from cold or warm drafts, like underneath heating or air conditioning vents. The warm or cold air will dry out the plant’s foliage very quickly.

4. Fertilizer requirements

The mini orchid does not really need to be fertilized. But, if you want the plant to reach its full potential, feed it once a month with a quarter-strength fertilizer during its growing period in the spring and summer. If your plant is not blooming as much as you would like it to, you can use a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus to help it out.

5. Supporting your mini orchid

Just because mini orchids are small, this does not mean they do not need support and structure. If you need to place a rod to support the plant’s stem, go ahead and do so.

6. Potting mini orchids

If you need to repot your mini orchid, take it out of its old pot by turning it upside down and tapping the bottom of the pot. If you need to, you can use a knife to loosen the potting medium and remove the plant more easily.

Remove the plant gently from its old pot and slowly remove as much of the old potting medium as possible from the tangled roots. Try shaking the roots and poking between them to remove any material stuck there.

If you find any roots that are brown, black, mushy or brittle, remove them using a sterilized cutting tool like a knife or pruning shears. These roots must be removed because they are either rotten from overwatering or dry from underwatering.

Once you have removed all of the compromised roots, place the plant in a new pot that is one size larger than the old pot. Position the plant close to one side of the pot, so that new growth will grow towards the front of the pot. For monopodial orchids, however, you can plant them in the center of the new pot because these orchids will grow straight upward anyway.

The position of the plant in the new pot should be at the same level as it was in the old pot. Place styrofoam peanuts at the very bottom of the pot; this can improve the drainage of the potting medium. You can then add fresh potting medium to the pot.

If you want to give the plant more support, place a rod or a stake in the middle of the pot and secure the plant to it with some string.

Conclusion

The cultural care of mini orchids is very similar to that of regular-sized orchids. The only real differences are that they will obviously need less water and less fertilizer.

Mini orchids like bright, indirect light, moderately high humidity, temperatures that do not get to either extreme, minimal feeding, and repotting when the roots start to become crowded.

Mini orchids require the same amount of maintenance as most regular-sized orchids, so you do not need to worry that they might be too fragile or high-maintenance to grow and care for. As long as you provide your mini orchid with its basic needs, you will have a plant that brings light to your home for many years.

Image: istockphoto.com / izzzy71