Phalaenopsis are perhaps the easiest orchids to grow and they are fortunately also the most common type to grace our decor. This lovely orchid has elegant arching stems of blooms above thick fleshy leaves. Phalaenopsis can stay in flower for many months and this long bloom period makes them even more wonderful. There are about 60 species of phalaenopsis that have been extensively hybridized. There are many hundreds of cultivars that vary in size and bloom count with clear or patterned blooms that range from white, yellow, peach, pink, purple and claret. Phalaenopsis are sometimes known as the moth orchid as their name is derived from Greek for Phalaena, meaning moth, and opsis meaning likeness because the flowers are reminiscent of a large moth in flight. This classic orchid is native to Asia and Australia where it naturally grows in China, the Philippines, Borneo, Java Indonesia, Malaysia and Queensland. These orchids are epiphytes that grow on trees using their roots to anchor themselves taking their water and nutrients from the rain and humus that collects around them. Orchid potting media is usually bark chips, sphagnum moss sometimes mixed with perlite, charcoal, clay bits or even styrofoam to allow for plenty of air circulation.
Here are a few tips on looking after your fabulous Phalaenopsis orchid:
During the growing season, water when exposed roots (air roots that grow up and out of pot) turn silvery, keeping the growing media very slightly damp...usually once or twice a week, depending on temperature. Warmer room temperatures will dry potted plants out sooner than ones in cooler rooms. Morning is the best time of day to water.
Display orchids in their grower’s pot set in a decorative pot as this will allow removal for purpose of watering. Place orchid plants in saucer, tray or basin with water and allow them to sit and absorb water for 10-15 minutes before removing to drain, then place them back into pot cover. Orchids will do best in free draining pots that allow for good airflow around the roots to prevent growth of disease and fungus. Never allow orchids to sit in water as it may cause new growth to rot. If orchids are planted directly into decorative container, be more conservative with watering so they do not become waterlogged.
With continued care your orchid will reward you with another bevy of blooms.
Once your orchid has finished flowering, snip browning bloom stalks off near base of plant. Keep your orchid in very bright indirect light, full sun will scorch leaves. During active growing season (spring/summer) orchids do not like to be moved. Choose spot with eastern exposure, sheltered west or south facing to keep phalaenopsis happy. Here’s a little trick to help reblooming...chill them. Orchids naturally bloom from fall until spring. Cooler nights for one or two weeks with temperatures dipping to 55-60℉ (12-15℃) can stimulate bloom spikes to form. You can place your orchids outside in fall if temperature permits to help them along.
Once bloom spikes have emerged, buds are formed and beginning to open, plant can be moved and enjoyed.