Saturday, January 4, 2014

How to Keep Your Phalaenopsis Orchid Happy

Happy Winter, friends of Flora!

Brrrrrr!  It's cold out there!  One highlight of winter, however, is that it's prime orchid blooming time!  Thank goodness something is in bloom this time of year-- I don't know how we would have much patience for the season, otherwise!

Orchids are known to be rather finicky little plants, so I thought we would dedicate this blog post to learning some proper care techniques, and how to coax new blooms into existence each year.  There are lots of different types of orchids, and a wide spectrum of instructions on how to care for each individual variety.  All of the orchids we carry in the Flora shop are Phalaenopsis orchids, so that's what we'll focus on in this blog post.  If you have a different variety, be sure to do some research on its light, water, and fertilizer preferences.

Phalaenopsis Orchids:

  • Watering:  Phalaenopsis orchids like to nearly dry out between waterings--- but be sure not to let it dry out completely!  Generally, every 5 to 7 days is an appropriate watering schedule, however, keep a close eye on your plant at the beginning when you're just getting to know each other.  :)  When watering an orchid, you want to be sure not to let any water get on the leaves, or in the leaf axils (this is the deep joint where each leaf connects to the central shoot).  If you accidently get some water in these areas, you can soak it up with a swab or towel, but if water sits here, it will likely rot your plant.  Another thing to be mindful of, is to not let your orchid sit in a puddle of water in its pot (This will cause the roots to rot).  Orchids should be potted in a vessel that has great drainage!
  • Fertilizing:  Don't forget to feed your plant!  You'll need to add some orchid food to the soil about once per month.  This will help keep your plant healthy and growing.  Don't get impatient and over-feed your orchid!  Too much food in the soil can hurt your plant!  I guess Goldilocks had a few things in common with orchids.....
  • Re-potting:  It's a good practice to re-pot your orchid every 18 - 24 months.  However, it's important to keep your orchid in a relatively snug-fitting pot-- Otherwise, the plant will expend all of its energy increasing the size of its root mass, and it will be too tired to grow new shoots and blooms!
  • Blooming:  The best part!  Peak blooming time for orchids is around February/March, and an orchid can bloom anywhere from about 4 to 12 weeks!  Getting your orchid to bloom again the following year, is one of the issues we hear about most frequently.  Typically, when you purchase an orchid, it is in bloom.  When it finishes blooming, cut the shoot(s) down to about 1/2" above the base.  You also might need to reduce watering and fertilizing during this period because the orchid will rest a bit right after it finishes flowering.  However, once you see new leaves and new shoots start to grow, go back to your normal watering and fertilizing schedule.
  • Keeping your orchid happy during this dormant phase is really important so that it will bloom again the following winter.  One thing to do that will often help coax an orchid into re-blooming is to give it some exposure to the changing temperatures outside in the late Spring/Summer.  Orchids love being exposed to alternating warm days and cool nights (though try not to expose it to temperatures outside of the 60 - 95 degree range)-- And don't forget to keep its moisture level in check if you allow it some time outdoors in the fresh air.
We hope this will help you navigate the intimidating world of the Phalaenopsis Orchid this season!  Remember, if you ever have any questions about ANY of your plants, or if you've got a potted friend who's looking a little under the weather, bring it in, and we'll get our expert gardeners on the case!  We also have a plant hospital in the studio-portion of our shop where we often nurse plants back to health.  We're always here for you!  :)

Happy New Year!  We wish you many blooms this year!  <3 div="">

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