Thursday, June 27, 2013

Phalaenopsis Orchids

Phalaenopsis Orchids, also called Moth Orchids or Phals, are the most tolerant orchid and also the most commonly avaliable for purchase.  Contrary to popular belief, these are quite easy to care for (I myself have six).  Don't be alarmed if it's dropping its flowers, especially in the summer-- as long as the leaves are glossy and dark green, the orchid is healthy.

Phalaenopsis orchids usually need to be watered about once a week.  Some people like to use the ice cube method, which is merely placing three ice cubes on top of the moss and letting it melt.  I have heard this works well for some people, but personally I prefer not to use this method.  Instead, I just give my orchids a quarter cup of water about every week and a half.  I also keep clear plastic liners underneath the saucers, which I sometimes fill with water to increase humidity.  Misting the roots occasionally is also a good idea.  The important thing is to avoid overwatering your orchids, as the roots like to have a lot of air.

Don't re-pot your orchid until after it is done blooming, as this may impair the bloom cycle.  Phals like a nice coarse potting mix, as this will help the roots get the air they need.  Phalanopsis orchids originate in Indonesia, where they grow on the sides of trees and get lots of air and moisture.  If your Phalaenopsis puts roots over the side of the pot, don't cut them off-- this is just the plant's way of getting more air.

If you find you need to trim your orchid, use extreme care.  Use clean tools and make sure you wash your hands.  Orchids are very susceptible to disease, so use sterilized shears or scissors, wear sterile gloves, and be careful what you cut.  If you are worried about disease, you can put a little cinnamon on a freshly made cut to help keep the plant healthy.  Refer to a professional if you have further concerns with the care of your plant.

Overall, following these steps will help keep your orchid looking beautiful for months!

 Above: four Phalaenopsis orchids in good health.  The one on the far right has dropped all of its flowers and is ready to be re-potted.  The leaves are in good condition, so it will re-bloom in the fall.

A useful link for Phalaenopsis Orchid care:

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