When I first started this hobby, I thought I would be able to look after my orchids with basic care and attention. However, as I have been growing them for a little while, I realise they need a little bit more than that.
I started to acquire ‘tools’ that would help me look after my orchids, and decided to create a toolbox. I reused an old plastic box with clip lid, and most of my stuff fits in nicely. Now, whenever I have to repot an orchid or make up a fertiliser solution, I have everything to hand.
So, below I have written about the more important things I have in my orchid toolbox. If you are new to this hobby, you will build up your own toolbox as you go along, but I always find it useful to have these basics on hand.
- Tweezers. Ideal for removing certain pests, and also the sphagnum moss plugs that your orchid will undoubtedly have sitting in the middle of the root system, if you buy it from a garden centre for example. There are a variety of tweezers you can purchase, however I kept mine simple. Just a plain ol’ pair from Boots that were relatively cheap.
- Orchid potting mixture (not shown above). There are many different types; sphagnum moss, bark chippings, coconut husk and ceramic based medium such as hydroton or seramis, to name a few. It will depend on your environment and lifestyle as well as the preferences of the orchid as to what option you choose. I personally prefer bark chippings because they work well with my environment and the level of care that I can provide.
- Scissors or secateurs (not shown above). Invest in a decent pair of scissors / secateurs. I use them to help cut away dead roots when I repot orchids and to cut spent flower spikes.
- Labels and permanent marker pen. It is always useful to label your orchids so you can identify them when they are not in bloom.
- Spare plastic pots, dishes and stakes. Whilst not essential, it is always useful to have some to hand, just in case. I personally prefer clear plastic pots as I can see how the roots of an orchid are developing.
- Clips. I have a number of clips to help attach the flower spikes to stakes. The colourful clips you can buy appeal to the inner child in me and I love the different shapes and colours they come in. A cheap alternative would be to use florists ribbon (the ribbon you can curl with scissors) or gardeners wire. Try to avoid anything that would rot if it came into contact with water. You need to have something that will allow the orchid some flexibility too, so if you are using anything to support the orchid, make sure it isn’t done up too tight!
- Hygrometer. A hygrometer will allow you to see the temperature and humidity levels around your orchid(s). This will enable you to adjust or adapt the environment to suit your orchid’s growing requirements. Mine is very simple, but there are more sophisticated ones on the market.
- Fertiliser. There are plenty of different types on the market, but it is a case of trial and error as to which one works best for your orchids. I haven’t yet tried an ‘organic’ fertiliser such as seaweed but this may be something I will try in the future.
- Hydrogen Peroxide 3%. I use this primarily to treat any fungal problems with my orchids, and to sterilise the roots when I repot new orchids. I use a small spray bottle when administering it because I find it easier.
- Rubbing Alcohol. Ideal to help sterilise any cutting tools you have. I sterilise my scissors every time I start working on a new orchid to avoid transferring any nasties.
You may end up with things in your own toolbox that I haven’t mentioned here, but it will be whatever works for you. The orchid hobby is meant to be fun, so personalise your toolbox anyway you want!