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Phalaenopsis Orchid: Basic Care

Brittany Banks is a young woman who likes to help people in difficult situations.

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In the wild, Phalaenopsis Orchids grow upside down on trees in climates between 65F- 80F. When orchids are bought from a grocery store or a plant store, they are placed in a pot right side up. They usually have a care tag with them and are potted in a small pot. Some people buy them as gifts or even just for the colors they bloom.

Is my orchid still alive?

This is a question that most people ask themselves after the blooms fall off of the orchid. The simple answer is yes. Your orchid is very well still alive. If the big middle stem of the orchid is not black or brown, then it is still alive. Does it have any green roots or leaves left? Then yes, it is still alive. Oh, and that big middle stem is called a "crown".

phalaenopsis-orchid-basic-care

Medium and Pots

First off, let's talk about medium and pots. There are many mediums on the market. Orchid roots need a very airy medium. They do not like fine grade normal dirt soil. Orchid bark mixed with hydroton, sphagnum moss, and perlite is a very good mix which will give the roots room to breathe. A solid pot with no drainage are not good for orchids. A clear plastic slotted pot with drainage holes are perfect for orchids. The smaller the orchid, the smaller the pot. When should you repot? Many people believe when they bring a orchid home, they need to repot right away. No, that isn't the case at all. Wait for new root growth and when the orchid is not in bloom to repot. If you repot the wrong time, this can disrupt the orchid growing/living cycle. Let the orchid adjust accordingly to its new home first, watch for new growth then repot.

phalaenopsis-orchid-basic-care

Roots

There are many type of roots on a orchid. There are "air roots" and regular roots. Air roots come out of the pot and will hang everywhere. This is the orchids "back up survival system". When the regular roots go bad inside the pot, these roots are the back up to help the plant thrive. Do you cut them off? No, never cut air roots off a orchid. When you repot, you can repot them in the medium along with the other regular roots, but this is a debatable topic. If they come out of the pot, then they will and there's nothing you can do about it. If air roots are watered down before potting it can be easier to get them inside the pot. Regular roots will be more green when watered. They will turn a silvery color when the orchid needs to be watered. When they look very clusterphobic in the pot, you may need to repot. Do you mist or water air roots? Yes you can, but avoid getting water on the leaves and blooms of the orchid. We will talk about that later on in this article. Please do your research on how to properly repot an orchid.

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phalaenopsis-orchid-basic-care

Crown and Leaves

The crown is the brain of the plant. Once this is gone, you have no orchid. When watering, please avoid getting water inside the crown. The crown is like a funnel and it will drain all the way down to the base of the crown which can cause root rot and can kill your orchid.

Many leaves can grow on a orchid. The bottom leaves usually die off first and then the top will grow more leaves. This takes a long time and patience to grow new leaves. If the leaves are brown or have spots on them, it could be a fungus, sun burn, or maybe a pet got to it? If there are cracks in the leaves, you can dab cinnamon on it with a cotton ball. Cinnamon is a natural bandaid to orchids. Always keep some in your cupboard. The leaf cycle is never ending. This is the growing cycle of your orchid. You will always have leaves die off and new ones will show up over time. Limp green leaves is a sign of plant dehydration. We will talk about watering later in the article.

Spikes and Blooms

Spikes are the stems that come up and grow blooms on them. Usually there's one or two. I heard there can be more. After the blooms have fell, these spikes may turn brown. Now will be the time to snip them an inch from the bottom of where it spouted from. Never snip them while they are in bloom. If they stay green after the blooms fall, it is possible to grow more blooms again. Otherwise, there could be a baby orchid on it called a "keiki". Please do your research before you attempt growing a keiki, but I highly don't recommend it. When you snip those spikes after blooming, the plant will be more concentrated on growing new roots and better leaves. After snipping the spikes, dab some cinnamon on it to help protect the plant from getting a fungal infection. The spikes will regrow back, but it takes a lot of patience. It could take 1-3 years before you see another spike and more blooms. I heard dropping the temp 10 degrees over night can help a bloom spike.

The blooms are very delicate and they are not to be sprayed with anything. With that being said, don't spray any part of the orchid with anything. It can cause fungal infections and if there are any water droplets on the leaves it can make its way to the crown. These blooms come in many colors. I got a "blue" orchid. Well later I found out, the blooms are actually white. Some people dye them believing they can be a "hot seller" when in reality, you're getting a white orchid. The blooms will fall within 3-6 months time after blooming.

Cut the spike where the first brown part is on it. Just right above it well be fine.

Cut the spike where the first brown part is on it. Just right above it well be fine.

Watering and Fertilizing

Some people have different watering methods. Soaking and using a watering can are the main two methods. I personally use the soaking method. Soaking can help prevent water from getting inside the crown. I use a a large plastic bowl in the sink. Filtered water is best for orchids and I place the orchid with its slotted pot into the bowl and fill up until the rim of the slotted pot. Lukewarm water is also best for orchids. I let the orchid sit in water for 10-15 minutes. Cold water can actually put them into shock and can disrupt their life cycle. Ice cubes are not actually recommended for orchids and no one knows where this idea came from.

Orchid Better-Bloom from Better-Gro is the fertilizer I use and I highly recommend using it. I use a teaspoon once a month. I add it to the water bowl and give it a stir before placing my orchid in it. I also use a fungicide to prevent fungal infections. Physan 20 is the best one in the market. I use a teaspoon of that as well once a month. I water all of my orchids once a week or when the roots turn to a silvery color.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Brittany Banks

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