Phalaenopsis Orchid Care
Learn the secrets of Phalaenopsis orchid care. Don’t let your lack of success with Phalaenopsis orchids get you down. Success is usually just a few tweaks away. Here is a simple overview of what to do and a few things to watch out for.
Moth Orchids Love Warmth
Moth Orchids aka Phalaenopsis orchids make ideal house plants because they love the same temperatures as we do. If you’re comfortable so are your Phals. Cold drafts are not healthy for us or our Phals.
For you detail nuts, they love 75 to 85 degree day temperatures and 58-65 degree night temperatures. In the fall a drop to around 55 degrees for a week during the night helps to set the flower spikes. See, Phalaenopsis orchid care is easy!
Potting & Repotting a Moth Orchid
You just bought an orchid from the garden center (or was it the big box store), you see a few roots hanging out and just can’t wait to repot it. Don’t. Let the plant bloom; let it grow a year and flower again before repotting. Thereafter repot once a year as soon as the plant has finished blooming. If you bought a struggling orchid off the clearance table, go ahead and repot it. Leave the healthy happy one alone, please!
If you insist on repotting (you can lead a horse to water…) do it after the poor plant has finished blooming. Unless you have had great success with your plants, use only medium bark for a potting mix…NO wonderful additives. Bark is the most forgiving potting media you can use and the medium size is perfect for a blooming Phalaenopsis.
When you reach for a new pot please reach for a small one. Use the smallest pot that the roots will fit into. Also use a shallow pot like an azalea pot.
Water a Phalaenopsis Like you Wash a Cat
Not often. But when you do make it worth the trouble, drown the sucker (sorry, bad memories).
Take the plant over to the sink and run water all through it or set the plant pot and all in a container of water for a minute. Let the pot drain for a few minutes and you’re done.
A couple of rules of thumb. Water your Moth Orchids about once a week in the summer and every 10-14 days in the winter. No, it’s not cast in stone. You have to adjust for your house, where you live and the potting media you use. You’re on your own for spring and fall.
Watering for most of us is the toughest part of Phalaenopsis orchid care. Once you gain control of your watering habits the rest is easy.
As you gain experience you can tell a lot by sticking your finger down in the potting mix to feel for moisture (the moister level is where your finger suddenly feels cool). Or you can heft the pot. The difference in the weight of a freshly watered plant and a thirsty plant is significant in a plastic pot but more difficult to tell in a ceramic pot.
Use fertilizer at every other watering at half recommended strength. Do not apply the fertilizer to a dry plant, be sure and water it first.
Why Won’t my Phalaenopsis Orchid Bloom
“My Phalaenopsis is growing great but it just won’t flower,” states the frustrated grower.”
My usual response to this statement is a question asking if the plant is a nice rich green. To which the reply invariably is, “Yes, it looks beautiful.”
A well-grown Phalaenopsis is not rich green. But when grown to perfection the plant is a medium green with a hint of yellow or red lurking in the background. Using leaf color is a good simple way to tell if your plant is getting the correct amount of light. Rich green, more light! Keep trying for that hint of red or yellow if you want lots of blooms.
If you need to move the plant to more light please do it in small stages until you reach the right amount. Sudden increases in light levels can really set a plant back.
In the house an east facing window is best and a north facing window usually doesn’t get enough light. South and west facing windows can work but be careful that the heat build-up and higher light levels in these windows does not burn your plants.
For those of you wanting the gory details, Moth Orchids like 10 to 15 percent of full sunlight, about 1000 to 1500 foot candles. To us ordinary folks, bright indirect light or about half again what your African Violets like.
Phalaenopsis Orchid Care: The Books
It seems like just yesterday that there were a pile of good books on phalaenopsis orchids. But for the last few years finding a quality book on phals has been difficult without resorting to the used book market.
Author and orchid enthusiast Steven Frowine has stepped into the breach with his book Moth Orchids: The Complete Guide to Phalaenopsis.
I recently picked-up a copy and was pleasantly surprised. I know I shouldn’t be after reading and recommending his dummies book Orchids for Dummies.
Here is a little information about the book…stolen from the great folks at Amazon.
Most flower lovers are familiar with the elegant white, pink, and striped hybrids, but a revolution in phalaenopsis breeding has resulted in an entirely new, diverse, and wonderful array of flower colors and patterns previously unimaginable. Professional horticulturist and orchid expert Steven A. Frowine, author of Miniature Orchids (Timber Press, 2007), focuses on these new stars while also providing a detailed look at the classic hybrids and species. Readers will be enticed by the book’s 365 lavish color photographs and gratified by the wealth of practical advice on selecting and buying moth orchids. Most importantly, Frowine shares his secrets on how these glorious plants can be grown to perfection, with recommendations about light levels, potting media, watering, and feeding. Especially useful are his clearly illustrated step-by-step directions on how to repot, trim, and propagate moth orchids.
If you’re a novice orchid lover, this book will arm you with all the knowledge you need to enjoy moth orchids’ magnificent blossoms in your home. If you’re a phalaenopsis fanatic, you’ll be thrilled to see just how exciting the world of moth orchids has become.
Phalaenopsis Orchid Care: The Video
Phalaenopsis Orchid Care: The VideoPicking this video on Phalaenopsis Orchid care turned out to be easy. It is just leaps and bounds ahead of any others I looked at. While titled <strong>Orchid Care</strong> it is all about Phalaenopsis Orchids. Meghan from AskTheDecorator.com is interviewing Dick Wells about orchid care. If you want to learn about Phalaenopsis orchids Dick is a man you definitely want to listen to. The video runs about 4 1/2 minutes an is packed with information.
Meghan’s description of this video is:
Orchid care is easy according to award winning orchid breeder, Dick Wells, and he should know. Wells owns the very successful company Hilltop Orchids where he grows and breeds thousands of beautiful orchids each year. One step into his greenhouse, and you’ll be amazed by the seemingly endless sea of orchids in front of you. As you look closer, you’ll notice that every one of Wells orchids are incredibly healthy and vivacious. How does he do it?