Phalaenopsis orchid is also known as moth orchid. It is a delicate plant that produces beautiful flowers. The flowering season is longer than 2 months. The plant itself has years of life span. The best part is it re-flowers easily than other types of orchid plants.
Before growing it, you need to know about the Phalaenopsis orchid care techniques.
Growing and caring for this plant is not difficult. But if you know the complete care routine. It will be easy for you to grow and care for Phalaenopsis.
It does not matter you buy an adult plant from the market or you are growing it from seeds. The orchid care method will be the same.
You have to follow the same rules of maintenance for a purchased orchid or homegrown orchid.
In this post, you’ll know how to care for a phalaenopsis orchid? What things you need to grow it in containers and many more plant secrets.
How to buy Phalaenopsis orchid from the local garden store?
The first thing you need to do is look for a healthy plant with bright green leaves. If your selected plant has yellow leaves do not buy it and move to next in the row. But if only a few leaves at the bottom of the plants are yellow. Then this will not be a problem. Because plants give more importance to their new leaves. They shred their old leaves that are mostly at the bottom.
If the top leaves are yellow or have yellow or dark spots. This means that the plant is suffering from overwatering and is nutrient deficient. Avoid such plants and ask the store manager for healthy plants.
The next thing you need to check is plant roots. Roots are a very important part of a plant. Most of the time Phalaenopsis orchids are planted in transparent pots. The reason is their roots need a good amount of light. Absorbing light through the transparent pot is easier than other types of pots.
To check the root condition, you have to lift the pot and inspect the roots for any disease. If the root color is white, silver, green then it is ok. But if you see black or brown roots then the plant is in over-watered soil.
The third thing you need to check is the plant stems. This plant has only 2 stems. Each stem develops multiple flowers. Therefore, the stem should be stable and strong to hold the weight of flowers.
Phalaenopsis orchid Care Guide
If you want, you can grow phal orchid plants in your outdoor garden. The only condition is you need to have your garden in Zones 10 to 12. Because these zones have the most comfortable weather for these plants.
In other zones, you need to follow the below-written guide and make adjustments accordingly.
The good news is you can grow it as an indoor plant in a part of the country. Again, follow the below Phalaenopsis orchid care steps.
To make the correct balance between various necessary growth factors. Right humidity, temperature, light, and airflow are necessary for orchids to grow.
Without wasting time let’s know about the important growing and caring requirements of phal orchid.
In its natural habitat, the plant receives indirect sunlight. Because it attaches itself to other big trees or rocks in forests. As a houseplant, it needs the same amount of light per day. Put the plant container on the east or west windowsill. And do not forget to turn the pot to make sure all parts of it receive an equal amount of sunlight.
If you do not have a window in the room or you have a pot on your office desk. In this case, you can use a lamp-type grow light. These are normal power grow lights and are sufficient to grow phal orchid. For complete Phalaenopsis orchid care, a 100 watts LED grow light is sufficient.
Under this light, you can grow 2 to 3 plants at the same time.
LED grow lights do not produce heat like other growing lights. Also consume very little electric energy. The most important benefit is they have zero maintenance cost with years of life span.
If the plant develops darker green leaves this means it is not getting proper light. But if the leaves are brown or have yellow or brown spots on them. This means you put the plant under high power grow light or in direct sunlight. Move it from there and it will again become healthy in few days.
For Phalaenopsis orchid care always give water to the roots of the orchids. Because misting water on orchid leaves causes many problems. The biggest problem you can face is the rot. It is a fungus disease that can kill the plant if not fixed on time.
Most of the time people suggest water orchids from the top. But this is deadly for flowers and leaves. The misted water gets collected on the leaves and flowers. The result is mold spots on the flower petals and leaves.
Before watering the plants, you need to check whether they need water or not. To do so poke the finger in the container soil and feel the moisture. If the upper 1 inch is dry give some water or wait and check another day.
The best way to water phalaenopsis orchid is to put the pot in the sink filled with water for 5 minutes. The roots will suck the required amount of water. Then take it out of the sink and put it in its location. It does not matter how you water the plant? The only thing you need to keep in mind is you have to water roots only.
Whenever you see moth orchids you will observe that they stand in wooden chips. Whereas all other plants in garden stores have only soil in their container. Then why orchids have wooden barks in their pots.
The reason is that in their native place they grow on other trees. They do not grow in soil. So, you need to give them the same growing medium to grow indoors. This is the reason all garden stores add wooden chips in phalaenopsis pots.
Normally they add redwood bark chips + potting soil. You cannot grow phalaenopsis orchid only in wooden chips you need to add some kind of soil. Do not use normal garden soil. Because garden soil is tightly packed for the plants. Plants like moth orchids develop air roots. This is the reason such plants need loosely packed soil to spread roots.
For other houseplants, we recommend organic material like compost. But for Phalaenopsis orchid care never ever use compost. In fact, only use commercial potting soil + wooden chips. If you are not sure which type of soil you need. Go to your local garden store and see what they use to grow Phalaenopsis orchids.
Like other tropical plants, this plant needs very high humidity to live. People who have a central heating system in their homes face difficulties while growing it. Because the heat inside our homes keeps the indoor air warm and dry.
The heating systems keep every square foot of the house equally warm. This means dry air in all parts of the house. This decreases the air humidity.
The plant needs humidity in between 50 to 100%. Which is hard to maintain all the time. Hot air also dries the potting soil quickly. Dry soil is a deadly growing condition for the plants. All tropical plants need a good amount of moisture for 365 days.
Phal orchids live in a warm environment in their natural home. There the temperature ranges between 75 to 90 F. But in our homes, we have slightly low temperatures. Any normal house temperature range between 65 to 70 Degrees F. Higher temperatures are good for the plant.
But to develop flowers it needs temperature contrast. This means the higher temperature in the daytime and low temperature in the night time.
If the plant does not get cooler nights it will never bloom. Therefore, in the blooming time, you need to put the plant in a cooler place.
Orchids need fertilizers to grow healthy and to produce beautiful flowers. By adding fertilizers, you cannot revive the unhealthy plants. But your normal plants become healthier and more vibrant.
The only condition is you have to use specially made orchid fertilizers. Such nutrients have micro and macronutrients. Orchids do not need a high amount of NPK to grow. They need more micro and macronutrients and trace elements.
If you have normal houseplant fertilizer you can use that. While making nutrient solution keep in mind you need to make half-strength than the recommended. Use only liquid fertilizers of normal strength.
The vegetative stage is the best time to fertilize orchids. At this stage, they need a high amount of energy to develop strong stems and foliage. Then they need nutrients in the cooler months just before the blooming stage.
Finish fertilization before the plant develops flowers.
Orchids produce a good number of flowers. The stalk becomes heavy and can bend with the weight of flowers. So, for the safety of flower stalks use bamboo sticks. Push the sticks into the container without damaging the roots.
Tie the stalk loosely with the bamboo stick.
Normally orchids propagate from the seeds but this is the time-consuming method. If you have enough time then you can grow the plant from the seeds. The first step is germinating plant seeds. Then after it put seedlings in the new pot.
The second and easy method is growing it from baby orchids. These baby orchids grow on the sides of the flower spikes. You can pluck them once they develop their roots. After about 1 year they develop a few leaves and roots.
Then plant them in the new container with the same quality of the soil. The growing plant will grow identical to their parent plants. Again, follow the all-growing steps that you follow to grow the first orchid.
Normally you don’t need to repot orchid plants for years. But once you see orchid overgrown its pots. This indicates that the plant needs a little bigger pot. Do not repot it in winters. Always repot orchids in their active stage.
While repotting it check the plant from head to toe. Look for the signs of diseases and infections. At this time, you may see some of the brown or dead roots. Use sharp shears to remove the brown and dead parts of the roots.
Then plant it in the new container. The new pot should be 1 to 2 inches wide and deep than the existing pot. If possible, use new potting soil. This will increase the life span of the plant.
If you want your phal orchids to re-flower then give them the proper light. Low light is the main cause that is responsible for not flowers at all. Put the plants that are not producing flowers outdoors in indirect bright light.
Or you can put them on the sunny window but only for morning time between 7 am to 10 am. The second thing you can do is give them cooler nights. Pruning is necessary to promote new growth along with flowers.
They take 6 to 9 months to rebloom.
Remove old brown flower spikes and dry yellow leaves. Do not fertilize at this time this will burn the plant leaves. Low fertilizers cannot stop the plant from blooming. The only reason behind no flowers is low light.
Common pests and Diseases
Phalaenopsis orchids are not prone to any serious disease or pests. The commonly found pests are mealy bugs. Root rot can be a problem if you never water any houseplant before. Take the watering seriously and you will not face fungus-like diseases.
But if in any case, you see fungus in roots. Remove the affected parts and save your plants. At once you can remove 50 % of the roots.
What to do with orchid air roots?
In 85% of cases, orchids produce air roots. These roots are there to absorb water and nutrients to support the plant.
The best advice is, do not to remove them and let them do their work. You only need to remove them once they are dead.
Healthy air roots are green in color and they look beautiful. Whereas dry roots look light green and dead air roots are brown or black in color.