Exotic and often expensive, orchids can require a little more skill than most plants to produce their stunning blooms. The good news is that phalaenopsis orchids (also known as Moth Orchids) are relatively easy to grow and flower, even for the novice gardener.
While many orchids are specialty plants that are expensive and hard to find, phalaenopsis has found a regular place on the flower shelf at your local grocery store. Popular as gifts, these plants often end up in the trash when the flowers fade but if you take some consistent steps to care for your phalaenopsis orchid, it will live for many years and produce a perennial flower every year (up to three months).
There are over 25,000 different species of orchids. The phalaenopsis orchid is popular and widely available because it blooms for a long time and is relatively low maintenance. Colorful flowers help sell plants, so most orchids available are in bloom. This can be useful by allowing you to see and select a specific color. On the other hand, the more flowers that open on the plant, the shorter the flowering period will be. Choose the orchid with the most unopened buds. Be sure to check the leaves and stems for insects and fungal infections. Orchids attract whiteflies, scales and other small insects. Look for white spots on the underside of the leaves as a sign of pests. Fungal infections usually appear as brown or black spots, often with a little yellow around them.
How Orchids Bloom
Taking good care of your orchid will of course increase its chances of survival and more flowering. Sufficient light is essential for orchid survival. Phalaenopsis orchids will definitely get by without enough light but the closer they get to all day mottled sunlight, the longer they will bloom and the greater the chance of reflowering. Direct sunlight on a windowsill for a few hours a day or a full day of broken sunlight is what they like. In the winter months consider using our LED grow lights for flowering which are specifically tuned to the light spectrum needs of Orchids and African Violets and therefore all other plants love them.
Orchids Like Stability
Orchids like their temperature, water regime and light to be stable, if you alter any one of these things by much they will begin the process of pulling thier buds back. Orchids also like their media to stay moist as opposed to wet. This is because orchids are mostly air plants or epiphytes and do not grow on the ground. They are usually embedded in moss, tree bark or even rocks. To keep the growing medium hydrated (but not over watered), sprinkle with sphagnum and spray frequently after drying, especially during flowering. It’s a good idea to let the medium out a little between waterings, but it must be watered before it dries out completely.
Post-bloom care determines how well your orchid will fare in the future. When the flowers are spent, you can cut them off or let the flower spikes drop off by themselves. Once the flowers are spent the orchid is resting to gain strength before it blooms again.
At this stage you can transplant the orchid. Repotting in a transparent pot is recommended with a 50/50 mixture of sphagnum and orchid bark with good drainage. Be very careful with the roots when repotting, it is important to surround the roots as they are already growing rather than forcing them to fit the into the medium. To this end try placing the root structure into an pot with a small amount of medium in the bottom then holding the plant upright while you place the rest fo the medium around the roots where they are. Once you have filled the pot make sure the orchid is firmly anchored in the medium then replace back into it’s favorite position on the sunlight windowsill or put it under one of our LED grow lights for vegetation stages and if you really want to treat your orchid use one of our blue spectrum grow lights too which will promote root growth. During this time the plant will supply energy to new leaves and roots, now you can fertilize again approximately once a month with some of our Quick Mix plant nutrient formula which again is specifically formulated for plants that are in their vegetation stages but Orchids and African Violets in particular.