Phalaenopsis orchid plants (pronounced fayl-eh-NOP-sis) are not only exquisite and delicate in appearance, but also great value, with their exotic moth-shaped blooms lasting for weeks on end. They make the perfect indoor plant for either home or office, for male or female, for any occasion.
Learn how to care for your orchids with these handy tips:
Position your plant near gentle filtered sunlight. Window sills are great! If you can tell your north from your south, then growing your ‘phaly’ near an east facing window is ideal. If the sun coming through your window is quite harsh, an orchid plant will benefit from a sheer curtain or blind to filter the light and heat.
Your orchid plant’s leaves should be an olive green. If they are darker, it means the plant is not getting enough light. If they are red tinged, the plant is getting too much light. Once your plant is in bloom, you can place it anywhere in the home out of direct sunlight. If it does not re-bloom, increase the amount of light it receives.
To water, place the plant in a sink of tepid water. Let the water seep through the plant for a minute or so. It is important that the plant drain completely. If there is any water remaining in the crown (where the leaves join in the centre), blot with a paper towel to avoid crown rot.
How often you water will depend on the potting medium. Bark retains less water than moss. If your phal is potted in bark watering once a week is generally sufficient. If your plant is potted in moss, water when the top feels dry (usually every seven to ten days). The amount of light and heat your plant receives will also affect how soon your phal needs watering. Summer months will need more frequent watering, winter will need less. You can generally tell by the weight of the pot whether it has dried out.
After a spike has lost all its blooms, it starts to turn brown and die. This is the time you cut the spike back and re-pot.
If the spike is dead and brown along the top part of the stem yet green still near the base, you may be able to grow a new spike to branch out from the existing one. This method is usually done when the plant is a large, well established orchid with a robust root system. To do so, cut the spike just above a ‘node’ where the stem is still green (see picture below). Cut at the same angle of the node. If it is only a small, young plant with an immature root system, just cut the spike completely off at the base. In either instance, re-pot using quality orchid mix.
A beautiful new spike emerging from an orchid plant should look something like this.
Just to confuse you, some species of Phalaenopsis orchids (violacea to be precise) do not need their spikes cut as they bloom sequentially from the same flower spike. You may have a violacea species if the plant bears horizontal spikes. Obviously the best way to know whether to cut the spike or not is to know the parentage of the orchid, otherwise just observe the plant. If the spike remains green, leave them alone to re-bloom!