When you first knew about “orchids”, chances are you saw a picture of Phalaenopsis orchid. Colourful and exotic, the Phalaenopsis adorns houses, upscale restaurants, spas, and posh hotels.
Many people are intimidated with the prospect of growing these flowers at home, but they are not as fussy as you think. Here is the guide for your first Phalaenopsis growing.
Table of Contents
A. Characteristics of Phalaenopsis Orchid
Phalaenopsis orchids originated from Asian regions, such as Java, Borneo, and the Philippines. White phalaenopsis orchid is considered as “the classic”, but now, numerous hybrids show off diverse colours, such as purple, pink, yellow, and blue.
They have five large petals and three smaller ones gathering at the bottom, earning the flowers the nickname “moth orchids”.
While most orchids of this group are brilliant in colours, the blue coloured-ones don’t exist. Phalaenopsis does not have any true-blue orchid species, and most blue Phalaenopsis orchids in the market are dyed white flowers.
The dyeing process itself is safe for the plant and done with an approved special technique, but the benefits stop at the visual aesthetic.
The orchids grow on top of a single, thick stalk, with longleaf formation at the bottom. One stalk can yield seven to 20 flowers, creating a unique and majestic look.
The stalk is straight and does not have pseudobulbs, which means the flowers cannot handle drought (although the leaves can store water). These orchids are low-light species, but they still need a little indirect light to grow happily.
B. Requirements to Plant Phalaenopsis Orchids
Phalaenopsis orchid plant has more difficult planting requirements than many other home garden flowers.
Here are things to prepare before you can grow it at home:
1. Frequent watering
Phalaenopsis requires regular watering, and you must not wait until the soil or plant becomes dry. It also requires high humidity, because it originated from tropical areas. However, when watering, you must not wet the growing tip, because it can cause rot.
2. Low light
Phalaenopsis cannot handle direct light, but it still needs some degree of indirect light. A shaded spot, windowsill that faces the east (for people in the Northern hemisphere), or an enclosed room with growing light are ideal options.
3. Warm temperature
Phalaenopsis needs warm temperature. The growing plant likes a temperature of 24 to 29 degrees Celsius (75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit). It may adapt to the temperature of 18 to 21 degrees Celsius (65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit).
However, it likes the night temperature to be slightly cooler, around 13 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit).
Phalaenopsis also requires regular repotting, usually once in a year. Your planting medium must hold much water, such as moss and soil mix inside a plastic pot.
C. How to Repot Phalaenopsis Orchids (after Purchase)
When you first buy Phalaenopsis orchids, don’t do anything and enjoy the beautiful blooms. Just place the pot in an ideal place in the house based on the requirements. Once the blooming session finishes, you can repot the orchid to give it a new, fresh growing place.
Here are the repotting steps:
- Prepare a plastic orchid pot with orchid soil mix. The soil should be mixed with moss instead of chipped bark. If you get the bark one, you must water the plant slightly more.
- Remove all the dead and decaying flower spikes and leaves. Use the sterilised blade to do the job. Sterilise the blade again after you finish.
- Remove the plant from the old pot. Shake off the soil and moss as much as possible. Inspect the root and remove all the blackened or decaying parts using the prepared blade.
- Put the orchid soil mix in the new pot. Place the orchid inside, but don’t pack the soil too tightly.
- Place pebbles on the surface of a tray or wide plate. Put the pot on top of the pebbled surface. The tray will catch the drain water from the pot and provide humidity.
Water the base of the plant heavily, and let it drains. Always keep the planting medium moist, albeit not flooded. Never wait until the plant or soil dries out before you water it.
D. How to Take Care of Phalaenopsis Orchids
Caring for Phalaenopsis orchids requires much watering. It would help if you watered the plant once a week, preferably in the morning. You can also pay attention to the roots; if they turn white, it is time for watering.
When the plant is flowering, you can reduce the watering frequency slightly, but don’t let the plant dries out.
Weekly watering is important if you plant your orchids in the bark-based soil mix. If you use moss-based mix, you can water it every 10 to 14 days. However, pay attention to the actual condition of the plant and soil. Summer requires more frequent watering than winter.
Use weak fertiliser for weekly fertilising during the growing season. Cut the fertilising into once every 30 to 45 days when the plant is flowering. The fertiliser should be water soluble, such as 20-20-20 or 10-10-10. Good Phalaenopsis orchid care will result in repeated regular blooming, usually every nine months.
E. Common Problems of Phalaenopsis Orchids
Rotting part is a common problem in Phalaenopsis orchids, whether on the flowers, leaves, stalks, or roots. It happens when the plant is trapped in a poorly-drained pot or standing water.
Low temperature and overwatering can also cause this problem, especially if you water from the top instead of at the base. The symptoms are brown spots, decaying tips, and mushy parts.
Mealybugs and mites are common pests in Phalaenopsis orchids. They can cause powdery white spots or mouldy brown marks on the leaves and in the crevices. Use a regular insecticide to remove these pests.
The exotic beauty of Phalaenopsis orchids makes them great flowers to adorn houses and public establishments.
The classic white “moth orchids” and their more colourful relatives bloom for weeks, making them better investments than short-lived cut flowers.
Once you deal with the most complicated requirements, you will get exotic flowers that are not too fussy in care.
Follow this guide and start having a Phalaenopsis orchid with your favourite colour right now.