- Useful Tips for Care And Maintenance of Phalaenopsis Orchids
- Care Of Orchids After Flowering
- How Often Do You Need to Repot Phalaenopsis Orchids?
- What Are The Best Phalaenopsis Orchid Pots?
- How to Repot Phalaenopsis Orchids Indoors Without Making a Mess
- Moth Orchid Species
- Grow With Confidence
- Phalaenopsis Orchid Care Instructions
- The Life Cycle of a Phalaenopsis Orchid
- Caring for Your Blooming Orchid Plant
- What to Do When the Flowers of Your Orchids Fall
- 4 Tips To “Spike” Your Orchid’s Growth
Useful Tips for Care And Maintenance of Phalaenopsis Orchids
Much of the Phalaenopsis orchid maintenance is concentrated on providing filtered light, high humidity, warm temperature and moderate watering. Under favorable growth conditions, this beautiful flower blooms for three long months. Read on for tips on care and maintenance of the same.
Phalaenopsis is one of the most demanding orchids in the world of flowers. A genus comprising more than 50 species, it forms the base for development of various hybrid cultivars, and is indigenous to Southeast Asia, where they are found at elevated altitudes. The ease in growing and inducing these flowers make them a preferred choice for hobbyists. In short, their care requires less effort as compared to other orchids.
Tips for Maintaining Phalaenopsis Orchids
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In their natural habitat, most species of this orchid are found growing as epiphytes under the canopy of large trees, while a few of them get adapted to rocky surfaces. Their care instructions are focused on providing optimal growth conditions that mimic their original habitat. Refer to the guidelines given below for maintaining a healthy growth and the timely flowering of these orchids.
Since the demand for this orchid is very high, commercial production of the same has become a business in recent years. At plant supply centers, the Phalaenopsis is sold as a container plant. Check for disease and pest tolerant varieties. You can purchase healthy plants having bright green leaves and a strong root system.
This plant prefers to grow in a partial shade to a full shade condition, just like its natural habitat. Hence, exposure to low light intensity or filtered light (12,000-20,000 Lux) is optimal for this flowering plant variety. Avoid exposing the orchid to full sunlight, or else, the plants will develop yellow spots (sun scalding) on the leaves.
High humidity, at least 60-70 percent, is a must for the healthy growth of the Phalaenopsis orchid. In case of low humidity levels, take some marbles or decorative stones in a shallow tray. Pour water in the tray and place the potted orchid in it, over the marbles. Doing so will help in increasing the humidity, while preventing absorption of water by the potting media.
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Coming to temperature range, a warm condition (25-35 degrees C) is ideal for maintenance. For maintaining air movement inside the room, you can put on the ceiling fan on a low-speed for a few hours every day.
Correct watering is the most crucial care tip for novice gardeners. Irrigate the potted orchids deeply with tap water. Wait till the top soil layer dries out for the next irrigation. Excess watering will cause rotting of the roots, which can be identified from a yellowish coloration of the foliage.
An all-purpose liquid fertilizer can be applied once in every two weeks. Make sure that the concentration is not high. If it is so, it will cause burning effects to the roots and later, to the upper parts. Also, consider watering the orchid plant after fertilization.
The pruning is best done after the blooming period is over. The flowering time lasts for about 3 months. As the flower stalk starts withering, cut it off at the base with the help of a sharp scissor, without injuring the remaining parts of the plant. This will help conserve nutrients for the next blooming period.
Changing the pot is expected if the orchid spreads profusely in the container and you think that there is an outgrowth of roots. Repotting of these orchids can be done during the cold winter months. Dig the soil away from the stem and uproot it gently. Trim the roots, and if required, separate the plants and grow them in suitable sized pots.
So, isn’t the care and maintenance easy? Under the condition that the basic care and maintenance tips are followed, it will bear beautiful blooms under artificial growing conditions. Plus, you will get to enjoy its beautiful flowers for as long as three months.
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Lemon Juice Flower Preservative
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon chlorine free bleach
- 1 teaspoon common sugar
- 1 quart of lukewarm water
Materials For Cleaning Orchids Using Lemon Juice
- 1 sponge
- 1 lemon
Pests And Care For An Orchid
For controlling pests on phals, organic insecticides like neem oil (online at Amazon) is a natural solution that’s safe and an excellent solution to for the environmentally conscious houseplant owner.
Phalaenopsis should be monitored for:
- Wingless mealy bugs feeding
- Tiny Red Spider mites
- Orchid pests scale
- Slugs which attack new shoots, leaf and root tips cause considerable damage
These can usually be removed with a soft cloth and soapy water. If you choose to use a commercial pest control product, be sure to follow all label instructions.
More on orchids –> Brassavola Nodosa (Lady of the Night)
Care Of Orchids After Flowering
When you purchase or receive your phalaenopsis orchid, it will ideally have a flower or two and quite a few buds waiting to open. Phals tend to bloom for a long time, so you can look forward to enjoying blooms for several months. When your plant has finished flowering, you may wonder what to do with the remaining stem or spike.
There are three schools of thought on the topic of cutting the flower spike:
- Some people leave the flower spike in place and allow it to eventually fall off naturally.
- Some cut it back to about four inches (leaving a couple of pairs of flower nodes) thinking this will encourage rebloom sooner.
- Still, others cut the spike all the way back to the central stem and simply wait until the coming year to enjoy an all-new spike with all-new blossoms.
Of the three methods, we prefer #3. There is no reason to leave the flower spike in place to fall off naturally. It’s ugly, and until it dies, it takes energy from the plant.
While cutting the existing spike back and encouraging it to bloom again will get quicker blooms but not better flowers. Second blossoms on an old spike are smaller and fewer in number.
When you cut the spike all the way back to the base, you will need to wait about a year for a new spike to grow and bloom, but when it does the flowers will be at least as big, beautiful and abundant as the first bloom. If you’ve taken good care of your orchid, they may even be bigger and better.
Patience is an essential part of orchid care during the blooming cycle. With proper care, your plant will treat you to blooms for several months of the year. After blooming, the plant will need to rest and regenerate. All-in-all, completion of the orchid blooming cycle can take between nine and fourteen months to complete.
Good Air Circulation is Essential
Although it is not a good idea to keep your orchid in a drafty area due to bud drop problems and another condition known as scorch, which manifests as dry, brown leaf tips and shrunken stems, it is a good idea to maintain a little gentle air movement.
Gently moving air supports good carbon dioxide exchange, which helps your orchid grow. Having an overhead fan turning gently or a freestanding fan directed away from your plants also helps evaporate excess moisture which might cause fungal infection and other diseases of the stems and leaf.
How Often Do You Need to Repot Phalaenopsis Orchids?
One thing you should be aware of in repotting a phalaenopsis orchid is that they are monopodial.
This means they have a single main stem which grows up from a single, central point. These orchids produce one or two new leaf annually at the apex of the main stem.
Signs that repotting is needed are a bit different with monopodial orchids than with sympodial orchids.
Signs Your Orchid Plant Needs Repotting
You can simply set a schedule to repot your orchid every couple of years as long as the plant has not become dangerously top-heavy and seems to be doing well. Just trim back the old leaf when they die back and trim back the flower spike when it has finished blooming.
Otherwise, watch for signs the plant needs a new pot. When the new leaves grow, older leaves below them die back. This means the stem becomes long and leggy beneath the new growth and exposed, aerial roots develop. This results in a shabby-looking, top-heavy plant.
When new leaves appear, and the old leaves die, it is time to repot your phal, but this is not the only time.
You should also repot if your orchid is potted in a bark potting mix and it has broken down. When bark decomposes, it does not provide good drainage and must be replaced.
Repotting phalaenopsis orchids in bloom is not recommended. You can repot at any time throughout the growing season, but take care not to repot while your plant is blooming.
This will cause the flowers to fall off. Wait until the plant has completed its blooming cycle, then trim the spike and dead leaf and repot the plant. More on Phalaenopsis pruning here.
Good Preparation Means Flawless Repotting
When ready to repot the plant, be sure to have all your materials close at hand to make the operation quick and easy. This reduces stress on you and the orchid!
Here’s what you’ll need to do a professional job:
- A bucket of water that has been allowed to stand for a day
- An appropriate orchid potting mix
- A sharp, sterile set of pruners
- A suitable pot or container
- A brand new razor blade
- A pair of scissors
- A label (optional)
You can purchase a potting medium specially prepared for orchids at your local garden center, or you can make your own. Here is a good phalaenopsis orchid mix recipe from the Missouri Botanical Gardens.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Horticultural charcoal
- Fresh fir bark
Note: The fir bark must be in one-quarter to one-half inch chunks. It must be intended for this purpose. Ordinary landscaping mulch will not work. The charcoal must also be specially prepared for horticultural use; barbecue charcoal will not work. Perlite is readily available as a horticultural material.
Other good choices in media materials include lava rock, coconut husk, gravel, and stones.
Growing Orchids In LECA
My first plant job was at a small orchid nursery, where they had a house full of Phalaenopsis. They were planted in what the “boss” called “solite.” It looked like a volcanic rock.
Basically what we now call LECA – Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate. I started eventually playing around growing some of the phalaenopsis in sphagnum moss.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from my decades of growing plants… there is no exact way to grow something.
The American Orchid Association warns that use of inorganic materials (i.e., rocks and gravel) as substrate could be problematic because of rapid drying and difficulty providing enough nourishment.
Here’s what to do:
Mix the ingredients at a rate of five parts fir bark to one part each of the other two components.
If your orchid is potted in sphagnum moss or tree fern fiber, you are probably best off to replant in bark. This is the preferred medium for full-size orchids because it protects the root from rot. Mini-orchids do better in moss, fiber or coco coir (more on that later).
With full-size specimens, even if you water very seldom, you are better off with light, airy bark than with highly water-retaining materials. Orchids are very drought tolerant, but they do not tolerate wet roots.
How To Repot An Phalaenopsis Orchid: Video
What Are The Best Phalaenopsis Orchid Pots?
You may be tempted to give your orchid a little more root room in hopes of delaying repotting, but this is actually a very bad idea. Monopodial orchids do best when the roots are closely contained. If they have room to grow, blooming will be negatively affected. Additionally, having a lot of empty soil around orchid root is a recipe for rotten roots.
When you select your container, it should be only slightly larger than the existing container. In fact, it could be the same size if you have quite a bit of dead root structure to prune away. The idea is to give your phal fresh potting mix and a little bit of wiggle room for the root.
Many orchid fanciers use specialized pots with slits in the sides to provide more ventilation for the roots, but this is not entirely essential. When you choose a pot made of a material that allows air circulation you needn’t worry quite so much about the structure of the pot.
Clay pots are porous and substantial, so they provide a couple of benefits. They keep the root well aerated, and they provide weight to help prevent slightly top-heavy plants from toppling.
Even so, many growers prefer plastic pots. The advantage of plastic is that it is inexpensive, and for growers who seldom water, its water retention properties are valuable.
This video provides some creative ideas for mounting and potting orchids, as well as creating hanging orchid displays.
Ideas for Growing Orchids in a Small Space
Keep it Clean!
No matter which type of pot you choose, be sure it is either brand-new or thoroughly sterilized.
You can sterilize used pots with a long soak in hot water with dish soap and bleach. The bleach-to-water ratio should be 9-to-1.
Soak the pots for a couple of hours; scrub them clean and rinse thoroughly.
Plastic pots can be dried and used immediately. Clay pots must air for a couple of days so that all the bleach fumes will dissipate. Bleach can damage plant roots.
How to Repot Phalaenopsis Orchids Indoors Without Making a Mess
Once you have gathered your tools, prepared your pot and have your mixed or purchased phalaenopsis potting mix ready, you are ready to begin.
Here’s what to do:
- Gently take your phal out of its old pot. This can be challenging because the roots tend to hang on. You may need to slide a slim knife blade between the sides of the pot and the root to disengage them. Be careful not to cut through healthy roots. If the plant just refuses to let go of the pot, you may need to destroy the pot!
- Remove every trace of the old potting medium. The goal is to repot bare roots. Take care to pick out the old bark and gently rinse the roots before repotting in fresh potting mix.
- Trim away or pull away dead tissue. There may be some old, dead leaf left on the stem. Be sure to remove them completely. Trim away any soft, whitered tissue as this means it is dead.Cut the old bloom spike all the way back to the body of the plant and gently trim dead roots using your razor blade. You can tell roots are dead if they are hollow or very wiry. If in doubt, soak the roots in water. Living roots will turn green rapidly.You may also notice that the stem extends beneath the roots. Carefully trim this extension back with your pruning shears.
- Once the plant is cleaned and trimmed, lay it aside gently for a moment and prepare the new pot by lining the bottom with a light layer of potting medium. Gently set the plant on top of this layer, making sure the top of the root ball is aligned with the top of the pot. Add or subtract potting mix as needed to get your plant properly situated.
- Coax the roots into place and surround them with potting medium. Remember the pot should be a close fit, so you may need to manipulate the roots to contain them in the pot gently. Add potting mix as you go to hold the roots in place. Be sure not to leave any air pockets. Once the pot is full, gently press the potting medium into place and add more as needed.
- Set your newly potted plant into your bucket of room-temperature water. Allow it to soak and rest for about an hour. Remove it from the water and let it drain.
- Add a label if you so desire. If you have several orchids (or you just want to present a professional image) it’s a good idea to add a horticultural label that includes the Latin name of the plant and the date you repotted it. You can attach the label to the pot or use a blank plastic stake and just poke it into the edge of the pot.
Having this information at your fingertips will help you remember when to repot. It is also helpful to have the Latin name of a plant handy in case you need to research pests, diseases, growth habits, etc. Some orchidists also include information such as bloom date on the label. Some keep a journal to take note of this information.
What About Repotting Orchid Keiki’s and Air Roots?
This is more a form of propagation than a function of repotting. If your phal sends out a “Keiki” from the Hawaiian word meaning “child” or “baby”, you can separate it from the parent plant, give it a pot of its own and enjoy a whole new plant. This video from the American Orchid Society shares how to identify a keiki that is ready for a new home.
Prepare your potting mix and pot and use the advice for repotting an existing plant as a guide when potting a keiki for the first time. This post from MrBrownThumb shows the process.
“Air root” potting is only one method of propagation. You can also grow these hardy plants through division, cuttings or even from seed (if you are very determined and have a lot of time on your hands).
The division process is simple and involves cutting a larger plant into two or more portions to get starts for new plants. Portions to be used as cuttings can come from roots, stems or even blossom spikes as long as actively growing roots or growth nodes are present.
It’s a simple matter of providing the aspiring orchid sections with a good growing medium, the right conditions, and care to prosper.
As we’ve said, it is possible to grow orchids from seed, but it is quite difficult as Brad from Brad’s Greenhouse shows us here:
How to Grow Orchids from Seeds – Orchid Flasks
According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, this process is good for producing massive numbers of plants commercially, but not generally recommended for casual hobbyists. It involves many complicated and exacting steps using specially formulated agar-based orchid gelling medium enriched with hormones and nutrients. Sterile conditions must be maintained.
But isn’t growing orchid seeds naturally “a thing” now?
You may have heard of growing orchids from seed – kitchen style, and you may think this is something you’d like to try, but the fact is this Thai method of home-growing orchids from seed is every bit as complicated as the professional method described in the video above. Additionally, it has far less chance of success.
In the final analysis, when choosing a propagation method for orchids, you are far better off with any of the many simple division or cutting methods available.
The fact is, orchids are made to reproduce. Like weeds, a new plant can grow from almost any portion of the parent plant as long as the proper growing conditions are provided.
Moth Orchid Species
According to the American Orchid Society the moth orchid was first cultivated in Europe from plants gathered in Manila in the early 1800s. By the mid-1800s new varieties were developed and introduced.
During this time, there was some confusion regarding the classification and naming of some of the new cultivars; however, the pretty plants remained popular and since that time over 200 varieties have been located, documented and developed.
Some of the most popular phalaenopsis lower classifications are:
- Phalaenopsis amabilis is a lovely orchid. In fact, the term “amabilis” means “lovely.” First, discovered in 1653 off a small island on the coast of New Guinea, this is one of the largest and most impressive orchid species. This type of orchid is traditionally given as a gift to express either congratulations or condolences.
- Phalaenopsis aphrodite is a compact species found from the Phillippines to southwest Taiwan featuring attractive rounded foliage and pretty white flowers. The leaves are thicker, and rounder than those of the phal orchids. The blooms are exceptionally large, yet the plant is on the small side.
- Phalaenopsis schilleriana is a fabulously easy-keeper. Found on Luzon and other surrounding Philippine islands, this pretty plant has attractive, barred leaves and produces copious numbers of flowers in shades of lilac or pink. It is one of the earliest known species having been named in 1860.
- Kaleidoscope orchid (aka Baldan’s kaleidoscope) is a large variety which produces a blossom spike that can stand up to three feet high. The bold, striated flowers may be as large as four inches across. Flowers sport maroon stripes on a yellow background with a bright red center.
- Phalaenopsis bellina is a small orchid originating from Borneo and Malaysia. This very fragrant orchid produces small, waxy blooms in shades of creamy yellow and magenta. The plant produces one or more short flower spikes which emerge from between the leaves. These spikes should not be cut as they re-bloom readily as long as they remain green. This compact plant makes a nice desktop companion.
- Miniature phalaenopsis orchids include: Phalaenopsis parishii and Phalaenopsis lobbii both from eastern Himalaya to Indochina. Phal lobbii – named in honor of Cornish plant hunter Thomas Lobb. There is also a hybrid of the two known as Phal Lovely Kid. These are all true miniatures and will not grow larger than a few inches high. Because they are so small, it is best to pot them in a finer medium such as coco coir or sphagnum moss. They do well planted in groupings or kept as a terrarium plant.
- Doritaenopsis is an intergeneric hybrid cross between the phalaenopsis and doritis orchids. The doritis orchid is a semi-terrestrial orchid, and the phalaenopsis is an epiphyte. Crossing the two produces a hardy plant that exhibits the best features of each parent.
To view a handy, photographic chart of all Phalaenopsis Species:
What Is The Difference Between Phalaenopsis and Doritaenopsis Orchids?
The plants are essentially the same thing. A Doritaenopsis is a cross between a Doritis and a Phal. The culture is the same.
The taxonomy has been simplified somewhat by combining everything under Phalaenopsis. Plants named Doritaenopsis retain the name, as changing the genus name to phalaenopsis would result in some duplicate names.
Grow With Confidence
In the early days of orchid discovery and development, growers believed that these truly rugged and enthusiastic plants were difficult to grow.
The fact is, this was just a matter of perception. Centuries of trial-and-error, controlled experimentation, and abundant experience have finally shown that orchids are actually among the easiest plants to grow, as long as you follow the simple guidelines we’ve laid out here.
Of all the many varieties of lovely orchids available today, the Phalaenopsis orchid is easily the most popular, most robust and most readily available. With its easy-going habits and long-lasting blooms, even an inexperienced plant keeper can enjoy success.
Phalaenopsis Orchid Care Instructions
Phalaenopsis orchids are among the easiest growing orchids for beginners! These beauties can flower throughout the year (peaking in the spring) and are incredibly easy to care for as they enjoy much of the same indoor conditions found in our homes. Just look at these flowers bloom!
Phalaenopsis Orchid Care Instructions : (You might also find my post on the anatomy of a phalaenopsis orchid helpful.)
Light They grow easily in a bright window, with little or no direct sunlight.
Temperature Phalaenopsis should be above 60 F at night, and range between 75 and 85 F or more during the day.
Water Because they have no major water-storage organs other than their leaves, they must never completely dry out. Phalaenopsis orchids should be thoroughly watered and not watered again until nearly dry. Want to know how I water my orchids? Check out my Orchid Care and Maintenance Tips : Watering Your Orchids post for more details on my drench and drain method.
Humidity The recommended humidity is between 50 and 80 percent. You an adjust humidity levels in your home by setting the orchids on humidity trays or on gravel, partially filled with water, so that the pots never sit in water.
Fertilizer It is best to fertilize your phalaenopsis orchid on a regular schedule, especially if the weather is warm, when the plants are most often growing. Twice-a-month applications of high-nitrogen fertilizer (such as 30-10-10) are appropriate where bark-based media are used. Otherwise, a balanced fertilizer is best. When flowering is desired, a high-phosphorus fertilizer (such as 10-30-20) can be applied to promote blooming. You can also dilute the fertilizer into your orchid’s water, making it a regular part of your watering schedule.
Potting This is best done in the spring, immediately after flowering. Phalaenopsis orchids must be potted in a porous mix. Potting is usually done every one to three years. Mature plants can grow in the same container until the potting medium starts to decompose, usually in two years.
To repot, remove all the old medium from the roots, trim soft, rotted roots, and spread the remaining roots over a handful of medium in the bottom of a new pot. Fill the rest of the pot with medium, working it among the roots, so that the junction of the roots and the stem is at the top of the medium.
Want to learn a few tricks of the trade? Sign up for Ryan’s Free Orchid Care Email Tips–he shares his best secrets with his readers. You’ll learn secret orchid care techniques expert growers use to super-charge their plants!
Warmest wishes from sunny Florida,
The Orchid Care Lady
These phalaenopsis orchid care instructions are taken from my AOS guides and from a series of Orchid Care Cheat Sheets I received for free from Ryan. They’ve come in so handy when I just want a quick refresher on orchid care!
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The Life Cycle of a Phalaenopsis Orchid
The life cycle of a phalaenopsis orchid is similar to that of an ordinary flower. It consists of six stages, namely, seed production, germination, seed formation, seed maturation, flowering, and reproduction. If it is properly taken care of, a phalaenopsis orchid can last for many years, or even decades.
From Pollination to Blooming
The first stage of the orchid life cycle is pollination. This process triggers a chemical reaction to kick off the reproduction cycle, causing the orchid to develop seed pods. The seed pods will take 6 to 8 months to mature. In order to produce flowers, the plant will take energy from its leaves, and this may cause some leaves to turn yellow and fall off. It usually takes about 3 months for a phalaenopsis orchid to flower.
After it has finished flowering, the orchid will grow a lot of roots, so that it can get the nutrients it needs to start flowering again. The flowers of a phalaenopsis orchid usually bloom for several months, and the plant can be pollinated again during this period. It can take anywhere from 9 to 14 months for an orchid to complete a life cycle. If it does not die, it can typically re-bloom once every 8 to 12 months.
The lifespan, flowering duration, and re-bloom frequency of phalaenopsis orchids vary from one flower to another. If you want your orchid to be healthy and long-lasting, you have to provide it with the right light conditions and humidity level, and water it once a week.
Phalaenopsis orchids are amazing. They have that kind of beauty that undeniably stands out among other blooms in a floral arrangement and that effortlessly captures your heart straight away when it’s the sole focus of an orchid arrangement.
Also fondly called the moth orchids, there are more or less 60 unique species of Phalaenopsis orchids native to Southeast Asia. They can be found in their natural habitat in the wild forests in the Philippines and the mountains of Himalayas.
At one point, Phalaenopsis orchids were hailed as America’s favorite orchids, according to a survey by the American Orchid Society.
Caring for Your Blooming Orchid Plant
As with all types of orchids, the flowers are everything.
Phalaenopsis orchid plants can bloom anywhere from a modest two to three flowers to a jaw-dropping 100. There are hundreds of Phalaenopsis orchid hybrids boasting of a rainbow of different colors and hues and intricate variegations.
When you get an orchid plant, it’s probably already blooming, and you’d do everything to just to make those blooms last longer or see them again soon, right?
Likewise, if you’re a budding orchid grower, seeing your Phalaenopsis baby rebloom is such an important achievement that’ll surely make your orchid-loving heart burst with pride. It’s as if the universe is telling you that you’re finally getting it right.
But caring for your phals doesn’t stop once they bloom. Orchids are known for having long lives, for the staying power of their flowers, and for the ability to flower many times in a year. You’d like to tick all that for your orchid plant?
Follow these practical orchid care tips while your Phalaenopsis orchids are blooming.
- Make sure you keep these orchids away from harsh sunlight exposure and sources of heat.
Phalaenopsis orchids are low-light kind of orchids and will burn in a snap when exposed to intense heat, for instance, in scorching hot south- or west-facing windowsill in summer.
- Water your Phalaenopsis orchid in the morning.
Watering early in the morning gives it ample amount of time to dry during the day and prevent it from sitting in water, which causes root rot. How often you should water your orchid actually depends on what kind of potting material it comes with. Orchids planted on a bark are content with a once-a-week watering schedule, while those nestled in moss can do well without water longer. This is because bark holds less water compared to moss.
- Be careful not to wet the flowers of your Phalaenopsis orchids if you’re watering it in the sink.
The water pressure from the faucet may damage the orchid flowers. Seasoned orchid growers recommend mimicking the rainforest environment where most orchid plants are from. Most of them swear by misting the flowers and the leaves in the morning once or twice a week, which is also a sensible way to optimize humidity during the dry season.
- Feed your blooming orchid weekly, weakly with a balanced but urea-free orchid fertilizer.
Choosing a high-quality urea-free plant food for your orchid is vital, because it delivers the essential nutrients immediately, as opposed to urea-based orchid fertilizers that can take as long as up to a year to be broken down and become ready for your orchid plant’s use.
- Stop moving your blooming Phalaenopsis orchid from one spot to another.
Doing so can cause a change in room temperature and can stress your orchid plant.
Also read: How to Maintain Your Orchids Indoors
What to Do When the Flowers of Your Orchids Fall
Santa Monica Orchids
As mentioned, the best thing about Phalaenopsis orchids is they can bloom once or twice a year, with flowers that last anywhere from 60 to 120 days. Don’t be sad when the flowers start falling off your phals. It’s definitely not the end.
After the last flower has fallen off your orchid plant, orchid experts recommend cutting the spike or the stem back to the second or third node. Yes, you also have the option to leave it alone and it’ll be just fine. However, cutting the stems will trigger the orchid plant to sprout a brand-new flower spike.
On the other hand, if your orchid plant is not in tip-top shape, which can be indicated by yellowing leaves or shrunken stem, you can cut all the way to the base of the plant.
There’s no way an unhealthy stem would bloom again. But with cutting it off and following basic orchid care techniques, all the orchid Phalaenopsis orchid plant’s energy will be diverted to growing fresh, healthy roots and will boost the likelihood of reblooming.
4 Tips To “Spike” Your Orchid’s Growth
As much as we’d like them to, orchid blooms can’t last forever. There will come a day when your orchid’s blooms will wilt and fall. If you’re a new orchid owner, then you’ll be delighted to learn this doesn’t mean your orchid is dead. Rather, it is entering a resting period.
With the proper care, your orchid will likely bloom again. Let’s discuss how you should care for orchid spikes to encourage reblooming.
1. Give Your Spikes a Check-Up
Make it a priority to keep a close eye on your spikes. Healthy spikes are green, thick and firm to the touch. A brown or yellow spike will not produce any new buds. Weak, short or thin spikes are signs of inadequate light, too much light or a mineral deficiency.
If you suspect a virus, isolate your plant to keep the sickness from spreading. For weak spikes, place your plant in an east-facing window, with a curtain to diffuse the direct sunlight. For short spikes, less light is key, so move the orchid away from the window. And for thin spikes, beef up your plant’s mineral levels with a phosphorous-rich fertilizer, and move it to closer to the light.
2. Keep Your Spikes Trim and Neat
In a way, your orchid’s spikes are like your hair. If you let them grow for too long without a trim, they can become a wild and out-of-control mess! After your last blooms drop, if your spikes are brown, cut them off at the base. If your spikes are green, cut them one inch above a node. “Tidying up” your spikes will conserve your plant’s energy for upcoming growth.
3. Sterilize Your Tools
Speaking of trimming your spikes, keep in mind that your spikes will only be as clean as the tools you use to cut them. To clean your tools, follow these steps:
- Rinse your tools under hot water. Scrub with soap, and rinse again.
- Dry away all traces of moisture with a clean paper towel.
- Light an alcohol lamp or gas stove, and run the blades of your tool in the direct flame for a few seconds. (Note: This should only be done for non-coated tools, as heat may cause damage to coatings.)
- Place your tools on a paper towel and let them cool.
Once cooled, your tools are OK to use to trim spikes. After you’ve finished cutting your spikes, clean your tools once more before storing them. For alternative methods for cleaning orchid tools, .
4. Stimulate your Spikes with Cold Air
In nature, orchids develop a bloom spike in the late fall when temperatures drop. The spike grows during the winter, with blooms appearing in late winter or early spring. In our homes, however, we keep our temperatures much the same. Because of this, the orchid may forget when it’s time for blooming to start.
So what’s an easy way to encourage your orchid to spike? Give it a little cool air! Place your orchid in a cooler part of your home for about a week, avoiding cold blasts of air from fans or air conditioners. An optimal nighttime temperature is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remember, your orchid is still living even after the blooms have fallen. Keep a watchful eye on your spikes, and you’ll likely have more beautiful blooms in your future!
For more details on orchid reblooming, download this helpful step-by-step guide.
Step 1 Fertilize monthly.
After your Phalaenopsis orchid drops its last flower, you can start fertilizing once a month with an orchid fertilizer. Follow the fertilizer manufacturer’s instructions. Keep your orchid in its location, in bright, indirect light.
Step 2 Cut the flower spike (or don’t).
After the flowers drop, you have three choices:
- There’s a chance that new blooms will flower at the tip of the plant, so you can try leaving the flower spike in place. But often, this doesn’t work. And if it does, the flowers will probably be smaller than the original flowers.
- With a sterile razorblade, sharp scissors or clippers, cut the flower spike at a slight angle in between the second and third triangular node, counting up from the bottom. Please note that this is only works for Phalaenopsis and that it only works about half the time.
- Matsui Recommended Our expert grower team likes giving the plant a fresh start by removing the flower spike entirely, using a sterile razorblade, clippers or sharp scissors, clipping it about ½” from the base of the plant. This method makes for the best blooms and gives the plant a chance to reset and grow stronger roots. You’ll also need to remove the spike if it has turned yellow or brown. If you’re trying to re-bloom an orchid other than Phalaenopsis, you’ll want to cut the old flower spike off at the base of the plant no matter what.
Step 3 Don’t forget to water.
Water your orchid per care tag instructions, about every 10–14 days for most standard sized Phalaenopsis or 7–10 days for mini Phals. Again, watering less is best. Let the potting medium almost dry out before watering again.
Step 4 Wait about a few months for a new leaf.
If you’ve cut the flower spike, you’ll want to wait a few months before you induce spiking. Once it gets a new leaf that is fully grown, your orchid is recovered and ready to rebloom. Note that this new leaf will likely be as big, and possibly bigger, than the other leaves on your plant.
Step 5 You’ll need some cold.
To get a new orchid flower spike, place the plant in an area with a lower room temp — about 55–65°F at night should do it. Placing your orchid in a window away from the heater might work, too. We’ve had best success getting new flower spikes in winter, when our homes and their windows aren’t as warm.
Step 6 Watch for a new flower spike.
Wait a month or so for a flower spike to grow. It will look like a root growing straight up it will have a knobby end on it, called a “mitten.” Once your orchid starts spiking, you can return it to its normal growing location with a moderate room temp of 65–75°F and bright, indirect light. Give it a few more months for the spike to grow tall and for new flowers. Once it hits about 5” you can start supporting the spike with a stake and a loose tie. If you don’t get a new flower spike after a couple of months, try moving the orchid to a different location. It might not be getting enough light or cold enough temperatures.
Step 7 Keep up the good work.
Continue watering and fertilizing. Don’t move your orchid around; otherwise its flowers might get twisted and it won’t have that pretty arching affect. Our Phalaenopsis can usually grow a new flower spike (or two) once a year. Enjoy!