Thursday, December 11, 2014
Maybe, the right moment has come, and it is time to write a post about Orchids. As long as I have dedicated a whole gallery to these fantastic plants, and it is, obviously one of my favourites to take photos of, I will share with you my experience , how to take care of them best and will feature some advices and useful tips:) Today, I will concentrate on Phalaenopsis. You know, there are thousands of orchid varieties that exist worldwide. Vanda, Miltonia, Oncydium are just of the few, all in different colors and shapes. But Phalaenopsis or also famous as the "Moth Orchid" is the most common and trendy flower in the world. One of the greatest advantage that offers is the availability of blooming plants year-round and the ease of its production.They are perfect for your home, and stay in bloom for a very long time ( 5-6 months).
From pure whites to unusual spotted harlequins, Phalaenopsis are sure to please. Unlike many other orchids, Phalaenopsis can be repotted anytime, though it is usually best to do so when not in bloom. The culture of Phalaenopsis involves windowsill light and consistent moisture. Phals do very well as houseplants and will grow and flower in a moderately bright windowsill. Each year a Phalaenopsis will grow one or two new leaves. Once the growth phase is complete, usually in the fall, a bloom spike will emerge from the stem beneath the second or third leaf from the top. Sometimes we have to help a Phalaenopsis that is grown in a consistently warm home to realize it is fall by allowing it to experience lower temperatures (60's) for several nights in order to set a bloom spike. Phalaenopsis bloom in the late winter through the spring. In late June and July the Phalaenopsis in our collection finally lose their blooms, some will remain in bloom for awhile longer. The ideal time to repot orchids is when they go out of bloom and Phalaenopsis is no exception. Once it has finished blooming the orchid will focus on growing new roots and leaves in preparation for new flower spikes. Establishing good watering practices can be a bit tricky at first for a new orchid owner. Each growing environment is unique, a sun porch in Florida requires different watering than a windowsill in New York. Phalaenopsis like to stay generally moist but not sopping wet and must always be kept in a pot with good drainage. Our Phalaenopsis Orchid Starter Kit provides the essentials for growing a happy healthy orchid. Here are the basic care requirements for a Phalaenopsis orchid. A moderately bright windowsill or similar spot to grow in. Watering when it begins to dry out, usually every 7 to 10 days. Fertilizing with a fertilizer made for orchids. I know, from one of my visits to a greenhouse for orchids *all the photos in the post are from it* that when the roots of the plant turn out grey , it is time for watering. Repotting when the bloom is finished with fresh orchid mix. Do not be dismayed by the an all of a sudden dropping of Phalaenopsis blooms as spring turns to summer. This is the time of year we expect Phalaenopsis to drop their blooms and begin their growth season. We expect them to spike again when they notice the chill of early fall and bloom in the winter or spring. Since Phalaenopsis remain in bloom for a large percentage of the year it is best to seize the opportunity to repot them right after they finish blooming. Phalaenopsis, especially the younger ones, typically thrive on repotting. fresh orchid mix is essential for fresh new growth. To demonstrate the repotting process, we offer a step-by-step clinic on repotting as well as a Phalaenopsis repotting video. Growing a strong orchid that will rebloom requires growing a strong root system. The leaves of an orchid may look nice but if it does not have a robust root system it will not readily reboom and thrive. Since Phalaenopsis are epiphytes (air plants) they would rather be hanging on to a tree in a jungle than be in a pot. When potted it is critical that the orchid roots be able to breathe. This makes the selection of a top quality orchid mix of the utmost importance. Don't be fooled by generic orchid mixes sold at hardware stores. When it comes to orchid mixes, quality and freshness really matter. Once you see for yourself the difference a fresh mix from the highest quality ingredients makes compared to store brands you won't ever want to go back to those inferior mixes again. Many Phalaenopsis are sold potted in moss and often times the moss is very tightly packed around the roots to help the plants hold moisture as they are transported for sale. Once in our homes, however, the tightly packed moss often retains too much moisture. Seeing that the orchid is not drying out the tendency is to repot it into a mix sold in the big box stores right next to the orchids. Unfortunately these mixes are often times made from fir bark and peat moss. Phalaenopsis, however, dislike moving into fir bark mix when they were used to sphagnum resulting in additional stress. The problem is not the fact that an orchid is potted in moss, the problem is how tightly the moss is packed for the orchid's new growing conditions. Moss is the potting media of choice for many of the worlds top orchid producers and it is an excellent choice for hobbyists as well. For most orchid genera the flower spike should be cut back after the bloom. This is usually indicated by the plant as the spike turns brown.
On most Phalaenopsis the bloom spike will turn brown after the plant is finished bearing flowers on a spike. It may not turn brown all the way down, however. One school of thought says to cut the spike above a node on the stem and allow the plant to start blooming again as a branch off the existing spike. Other says to always cut the flower spike off at the base when the blooms drop. Blooms take energy from the plant so cutting the spike entirely off allows the plant to gather its energy for an even more spectacular bloom in the future. Allowing the spike to branch results in more blooms sooner but takes energy from the plant resulting in often smaller blooms. In our collection we take the middle ground. For large plants with large root systems we will sometimes allow the plant to branch off an existing spike. For younger plants or those with less vigor we will cut the bloom stem at the base when the flowers drop. It seems in orchid culture there are exceptions to every rule. Some Phalaenopsis should NOT have their bloom spikes cut. These Phals have in their parentage species such as violacia, amboninsis, cornu-cervi, etc. These Phals usually bear only a few blooms at the end of a spike and will bear blooms sequentially on the same spike for a very long time, seemingly forever.