Orchids are unmatched in the botanical world for producing some of the most intriguing blooms, and with so many colours and variations it’s no wonder that they are among the most celebrated and widely collected Tropical Houseplant. Their dramatic, long lasting blooms are perfect for adding grace and elegance to any home and office, and they make a perfect gift! Belgian carries a range of Phalaenopsis Orchids year-round, and the Orchid & Bonsai House (greenhouse #2) is often filled with their large and stunning blooms; other varieties, such as Cattleya and Oncydium, are available on occasion, depending on our suppliers.
The most common variety for home collection. In its natural habitat, this Orchid is an epiphyte which grows its roots on tree trunks under the rainforest canopy, collecting moisture and nutrients from the air. In the home and office, they are potted in orchid mix and we can revel in their incredible blooms to for months at a time! The most common colours are white, shades of purple, and occasionally yellow.
Oncydiums produce clusters of small flowers on tall stems with long slender leaves. Their flowers last for about 3 to 4 weeks. They are fairly easy to grow as long as they receive extra humidity; misting is recommended.
Cattleyas have large flowers that last about 4 to 5 weeks. They only flower on new growth, which can take 8 to 10 months to develop. They perform best in full sunlight and like to be root bound.
Success with Phalaenopsis Orchids – Care & Tips
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Light: Orchids prefer medium to bright light, ideally morning sun (East window) or late afternoon sun (West window). Direct sunlight will cause them to burn, so avoid South windows during the long hot days of summer.
Watering: The timing between watering depends on how much light and humidity your Orchid receives, as well as the time of the year. Orchids like to dry slightly between waterings. Drain any excess water away – if the plant is left sitting in water, its roots could rot.
Misting and Humidity: Orchids prefer humidity, so plan on misting the leaves daily. The best time to mist is in the mornings, to ensure that the leaves are dry by evening to prevent rot. Another way to increase humidity is to use a pebble tray: use a larger saucer and fill it with rocks, pebbles or even a smaller upside-down saucer. Set your plant on top and fill the larger saucer with water, which will evaporate upwards towards your Orchid. Be sure that the water level is never touching the bottom of your pot, as this will cause root rot.
Fertilizer: Your Orchid should be fed plant food regularly. We recommend either an all-purpose or a flowering plant fertilizer either a) twice a month mixed at half strength or b) once a month at regular strength. There are other specialty Orchid fertilizers available which are also suitable; follow the label for specific directions.
Temperature: Your Orchid likes to live around 18°C to 25°C (65°F to 85°F). Generally, if your house temperature is comfortable for you, then your Orchid is happy. Never expose your plant to temperatures below 10°C (50°F) or above 38°C (100°F). If transporting Orchids in cold and/or freezing weather, be sure your plant is wrapped and protected from the chill; never leave an Orchid in an unheated vehicle.
Repotting: Generally the Phalaenopsis Orchid requires repotting every 2 to 3 years. At this time you may need to simply replace the orchid mix or repot into a larger pot. Do not use potting soil. There are different types of potting mediums for Orchids; we carry a prepared mix of bark chips and coco fibres which is our preference for Orchid repotting. Sphagnum moss and straight bark mixes are also excellent choices as they both allow for quick drainage. When repotting, trim off any decayed roots and allow some to stay exposed to the air, if you wish.
Plant Problems: Poor watering practices are the #1 killer of most Orchids. Root rot is caused from watering too often or being left to sit in excess water. The roots will start to rot slowly, followed by the leaves drooping and wrinkling as they try to compensate for the damage. To remedy the situation, remove the Orchid from its the pot, remove any damaged roots, and replant in new orchid mix. Then change your watering habits.
Dehydration is caused from not enough water or allowing too much time between waterings. Leaves will droop and become wrinkled. Be sure to water thoroughly, drain away any excess water, and mist frequently.
Flowering & Re-blooming:
Each time a Phalaenopsis Orchid flowers it sends up a new flower spike. When the flowers are finished, cut the old flower spike back to just under where the first (oldest) flower bloomed. This spike may, on occasion, send up a “bonus” side spike that will grow out of the nodes (they look like small leaves) from lower on the flower stem. To cut the rest of the spike back, wait for it to turn yellow or brown and cut it back in stages.
Orchids usually flower once a year, but they may take a year off to rest. Phalaenopsis usually send up their new flower spike in January or February during the shortened days. If your plant refuses to flower, you can try “forcing it” into bloom by skipping 2 to 4 fertilizer feedings (remember, it still needs to be watered!). Another trick is dropping your home’s temperature overnight so that it’s slightly cooler than normal.