Caring for Your New Phalaenopsis Orchid

  • February 8, 2012
orchid resized

orchid resizedPhalaenopsis orchids are exquisite, exotic and surprisingly easy to care for…the perfect orchid for beginners!

Temperature:  Ideally, keep your orchid at 60-65˚F at night and 75-85˚F during the day.  Occasional temperature deviations will not harm your orchid, with one exception:  wide temperature swings during budding can cause the unopened buds to fall off!

Light:  Bright indirect sunlight is ideal.  Direct sun is ok as long as it’s in the early morning or the very late afternoon (direct mid-day sun is very strong and can actually burn the leaves of your orchid).

Humidity:  Ideal levels should range from 50-75% relative humidity.  In a heated home, set your orchid plants in a shallow tray filled with water and pebbles.  Make sure there are enough pebbles that the roots of the plant are NOT sitting in water!

Water:  Phalaenopsis orchids do not like to be dry to the point of wilting.  Water thoroughly and then let the growing media almost (but not completely) dry out before watering again.  Watering once every week to 10 days is a good starting point, but remember that in a heated home in the winter, the lower humidity will mean you’ll probably have to water more often.  Conversely, in the summer when the humidity is higher, you may not have to water as much.  Do not get any water on the flowers.

Fertilizer:     A simple method of fertilization is the “weakly weekly” method, whereas you fertilize each week when you water but only at a QUARTER of the recommended strength.  This method ensures a consistent level of fertilizer at all times.  (You may want to cut back slightly during the winter months when the growth is slower).  In late summer, continuing thru the blooming period, use a bloom-inducing fertilizer (ex. 10-20-10).  After the bloom cycle is over, switch over to a more balanced fertilizer (ex. 20-20-20).

Rebloom:  Here is a trick that sometimes can induce a second bloom period.  After the last flower on the spike fades, look for small fleshy nodes on the spike.  From the base of the spike, count out 3 nodes (only count the fleshy green nodes, not the ones that are dried out), and cut the spike one inch above that 3rd node.  Sometimes this process will cause your orchid to put out a fresh spray of blossoms!  Also keep in mind that a drop in nighttime temperature (to about 55-60˚F) for about a month in the fall will induce a new bloom cycle.