Within six to nine months, the seedling will have reached a stage where then need to be potted on. Do this in the autumn before the winter sets in. By now they should all be large enough to be potted separately in individual pots. Some may already have produced their first pseudo bulb and a good root system. The roots made at this time are typical orchid roots, quite different from those made in the agar, which will not haw survived the change to conventional compost (growing medium).
Orchids growing in an inorganic compound such as Rock wool or stone wool may be given more applications of feed than those growing in a bark or peat mix. An additional foliage feed to provide nutrients through the leaves, can be given occasionally during summer; this also applies to plants that have lost their roots and cannot be fed via the compost (growing medium).
During the first half of the 20th century, orchid culture progressed little. Thousands of new hybrids were raised, with seedlings taking up to seven or eight years to flower. The same orchids today can be flowered within three to four years. There can be no doubt that feeding orchids can greatly benefit their performance, but this has to be done with care.
Orchids are perennial plants, with a life span of many years. Their rate of growth is slow, and any artificial feeding has to reflect this. The extra nutrients are given not to increase the rate at which orchids grow or to influence their growing cycle, but to maintain a steady momentum and to ensure health and vigor. The first growers to experiment with feeding orchids were those employed by the private estates, whose owners had the best collections at that time.
They used what was at hand, and this happened to be dried animal droppings. This was rubbed through a sieve and mixed with compost (growing medium). This proved very successful with the deciduous calanthes, which have a short, fast growing season.
However, the roots were easily burnt by the strong manure and the appearance of virus-like markings on the foliage of cymbidiums and other orchids fueled the fear that became the basis for the non-feeding rule. More recently, as the nutritional needs of orchids have become better understood and modern inorganic compost (growing medium) materials haw increased, feeding orchids has become scientifically based.
Orchids are now systematically fed using any one of number of specially prepared orchid fertilizers. These are available from coos` outlets where orchids can be purchased It is far better to buy a proven product than to make up your own brand of feed. unless you thoroughly understand the requirements of your plants. Then remains the danger of overfeeding, with the orchids suffering the consequences.
You will notice a change in the appearance of the plants as they adapt, and, once they are growing strongly, you cam start feeding at every watering. Chet. your seedlings regularly and remove any dead leaves or plants immediately to prevent the spread of rots.