Orchids and Plants - Care & Tips
Phalaenopsis(Moth) orchids are the most popular orchids and are very easy to grow in most homes with high humidity being the most difficult growing requirement to meet. Colors range includes white, pink, lavender and yellow in both solid colors and mixes of stripes and spots. Many new bold color pattern are readily available at retails florists as well. Phalaenopsis Orchids offer both exotic form and superb longevity. Individual blooms can last about 1 month without watering & as long as 8 months with proper water & care.
Phalaenopsis orchids do not like to be dry to the point of wilting. Roots should be moist at all times. Hence, they should be watered thoroughly and then not again until the media is nearly, but not completely, dry. How often you water will depend on the type of media your orchid is growing in and its growing environment. Once every week to 10 days is a good starting point. In winter, with the heat on in your home, lower humidity means you'll need to water more frequently. Don't let your plants dry to the point of wilting. Remember to not get any water on the flowers or leaves as this will shorten their longevity. Avoid leaving water standing in the crown of the plant as this causes fatal rot. Do not spray water on the blooms or the leaves. Be sure to use room temperature water, not cold water directly from the tap.
People view an orchid as some sort of exotic, and difficult to grow plant, when they really aren't. Growing a Phalaenopsis Orchid in your home can be both rewarding and fun. It is particularly well suited for the conditions you already find at home. Phalaenopsis orchids enjoy a spot near a bright window. You'll want to avoid direct mid-day sun but early morning or late afternoon sun is great. An east or west facing window is ideal. In darker or cloudy environments a shaded southern window might be best. You can supplement normal light with fluorescent lights placed approximately 1 foot above your orchid. Time your lights to simulate normal day length. One to two hours of sunshine on a windowsill or under fluorescent lights would be sufficient. Low light levels are appropriate. Leaves should be a medium green, not yellowish or dark green. They should be firm, not long and floppy (more light needed). A dark red blush covering the top of the leaves means too much light. Buds turning yellow, wilting and falling prior to opening is from not having enough energy in the plant to open the flower either because the light is too dim, the plant is too small, or the roots have rotted.
The ideal temperatures for the Phalaenopsis range between 55 and 85 F. Cool night time temperatures in the fall encourage flower spike initiation. Once the flower spike is developed, wide swings in temperature can cause unopened bud to drop off. Phalaenopsis also benefit from moderate humidity levels. Ideal levels range between 50 and 75% relative humidity. In a heated home you will want to set your plants on a shallow tray filled with gravel and water. This should help to keep the humidity near your orchid at acceptable levels.
Be sure to use an orchid food that is formulated for orchids and follow the instructions on the label. In general, most orchid fertilizers recommend usage once a month. Less frequent fertilizing may stunt growth and inhibit flowering; more frequent fertilizing may burn the roots and leaves and inhibit flowering.
Flowers of Phalaenopsis Orchid have superb longevity. You can often urge a second flowering from each spike with a timely pruning. When the last flower of the spike fades, you should examine the spike, looking for small fleshy bumps or nodes. From the base of the spike count up 3 nodes (count only the green fleshy nodes - ignore any that are dried out). Cut the spike one inch above the third node. If your plant is healthy and the season is not too late, this process will wake up one or two of the nodes and in a few short weeks it may produce a new spray of fresh blooms. By trying this you could enjoy flowers for nearly 6 months of the year on the same plant. Do not try this method if the plant is not healthy. If leaves start to wilt while the plant is blooming (or at any other time), cut off the flower stem at the base, and check for broken down potting medium and rotting roots.
Phalaenopsis can live a very long time. That means you will have to know when and how to repot you plants. There are two reasons that a plant will need to be re-potted. Either it has outgrown its current container or its media has decomposed and no longer is aerated well enough to maintain healthy roots. Beginners should avoid moss and soil based mixes as they may remain too wet. Remove the plant from its container, let the old media fall away and remove any rotting roots. Carefully trim away any old dead roots. Position the plant in its new container and pour into the new potting media, letting it settle around the roots. Use only a media for orchids that contains bark, stone, sphagnum moss, perlite or similar material that will provide the aeration your Phalaenopsis require. Many growers use sphagnum moss as their media of choice. Resume your normal watering and fertilizing schedule after re-potting.
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