Years ago, while tagging along with my husband at Home Depot, I wandered over to their Orchid display and decided I NEEDED to have one. I had NO idea how to care for it, how to make it bloom, what window to put it in or even how much to water it–but, I was in love. It was gorgeous. I got my Phalaenopsis Orchid home, plopped it down, watered it like any other houseplant and, needless to say, within about a month–it wasn’t looking as pretty anymore. Fast forward to today, and to Main Floral (which is currently, fully stocked with Orchids–just in time for Spring, of course 😉 ) and you have an Orchid lover that knows how to keep them looking gorgeous. They aren’t too hard–but, as I learned first-hand, they do take a bit more care than your average houseplant. If you’re thinking about stopping in to buy one, or thinking about giving one as a gift, here’s what you should know about their care.
First of all, a bit of history about their origins. The Phalaenopsis Orchid, also known as a Moth Orchid, is one of the most popular of all the Orchids, and it is also one the easiest to maintain. They are native to China, New Guinea, Southeast Asia, Queensland, the Bismark, Archipelago and India. Due to their native growing area, they were one of the first tropical Orchids to be grown in Victorian-era gardens. As with any plant, replicating their native climate, and growing conditions (as best as you can), is the key for making them grow their very best.
Since they say it best, the following information, about their growth and cultivation, is from the American Orchid Society. (Yup, there is an official, orchid, society. Click on the link to find out more about them.)
Light is easy to provide for phalaenopsis. They grow easily in a bright window, with little or no sun. An east window is ideal in the home; shaded south or west windows are acceptable. In overcast, northern winter climates, a full south exposure may be needed. Artificial lighting can easily be provided. Four fluorescent tubes in one fixture supplemented by incandescent bulbs are placed 6 to 12 inches above the leaves, 12 to 16 hours a day, following natural day length. In a greenhouse, shade must be given; 70 to 85 percent shade, or between 1,000 and 1,500 foot-candles, is recommended. No shadow should be seen if you hold your hand one foot above a plant’s leaves.
Temperatures for phalaenopsis should usually be above 60 F at night, and range between 75 and 85 F or more during the day. Although higher temperatures force faster vegetative growth, higher humidity and air movement must accompany higher temperatures, the recommended maximum being 90 to 95 F. Night temperatures to 55 F are desirable for several weeks in the autumn to initiate flower spikes. Fluctuating temperatures can cause bud drop on plants with buds ready to open.
Water is especially critical for phalaenopsis. Because they have no major water-storage organs other than their leaves, they must never completely dry out. Plants should be thoroughly watered and not watered again until nearly dry. In the heat of summer in a dry climate, this may be every other day; in the winter in a cool northern greenhouse, it may be every 10 days. Water only in the morning, so that the leaves dry by nightfall, to prevent rot.
Humidity is important to phalaenopsis, the recommended humidity being between 50 and 80 percent. In humid climates, as in greenhouses, it is imperative that the humid air is moving. Leaves should be dry as soon as possible, always by nightfall. In the home, set the plants on trays of gravel, partially filled with water, so that the pots never sit in water.
Fertilize on a regular schedule, especially if the weather is warm, when the plants are most often growing. Twice-a-month applications of high-nitrogen fertilizer (such as 30-10-10) are appropriate where bark-based media are used. Otherwise, a balanced fertilizer is best. When flowering is desired, a high-phosphorus fertilizer (such as 10-30-20) can be applied to promote blooming. Some growers apply fertilizer at one-quarter strength with every watering; this is best for warm, humid conditions. When cooler, or under overcast conditions, fertilizer should be applied twice per month at weak strength.
Potting is best done in the spring, immediately after flowering. Phalaenopsis plants must be potted in a porous mix. Potting is usually done every one to three years. Mature plants can grow in the same container until the potting medium starts to decompose, usually in two years. Root rot occurs if plants are left in a soggy medium. Seedlings usually grow fast enough to need repotting yearly, and should be repotted in a fine-grade medium. Mature plants are potted in a medium-grade mix. To repot, remove all the old medium from the roots, trim soft, rotted roots, and spread the remaining roots over a handful of medium in the bottom of a new pot. Fill the rest of the pot with medium, working it among the roots, so that the junction of the roots and the stem is at the top of the medium.
The actual care page is here–along with plenty of care sheets for how to take care of other kinds of Orchids, as well!
As always, if you have more specific questions for us about anything floral, delivery, or product related–send us a message or give us a call! We’re always happy to help you out!