The Garden Plant
Phalaenopsis Orchid care

How to Buy and Care for a Phalaenopsis Orchid

The Phalaenopsis Orchid is by far the most bought and maintained Orchid in America. Over my years in the interior plant care and landscape business, I have had the chance to train numerous new and some not so new technicians on how to care for Phalaenopsis Orchids. There are many different varieties, strains, and hybrids of Phalaenopsis Orchids all around the world.

I live in South Florida, close to Homestead were a lot of Americas Orchids come from, but saying that -the largest Phalaenopsis Orchid I have ever seen was on a trip to a large flower market in Shoreditch UK, right outside of London. This Orchid was a monster, one orchid had 6 stems coming out of it.

I’ve never seen any Phalaenopsis with more than four stems. And I have only seen a four spike Orchid like twice at Orchid shows, where people bring the best of the best Orchids.

How to Buy a Phalaenopsis Orchid

I admit even though, I can go to big Orchid farms and buy really nice Orchids for 5 or 10 dollars. I will still look at and sometimes buy Orchids at Home Depot. When I’m shopping for Phalaenopsis Orchids for sale at Home Depot, I often watch what kind of Orchids people buy.

The mistake I see over and over is that people buy Orchids that are already bloomed out with one puny spike. That is the wrong way to buy Orchids. When buying Orchids you should be looking for multiple spike Orchids that have numerous branches with lots of unopened buds. But that’s not it, try to find Orchids where only two or three flowers or buds have opened.

Phalaenopsis Orchis care
Beautiful Phalaenopsis Orchid

This is important that the 2 or 3 buds are open because sometimes Orchids have something called ‘bud blast’, where the flower buds are ready to open but don’t or they will only open halfway very weakly. This is usually caused by irregular watering or over-fertilization.

So remember to look for Orchids with multiple spikes and multiple branches with lots of closed flower buds, but with at least 2 or 3 flowers open.

How to Care for your Phalaenopsis Orchid

Phalaenopsis Orchids are pretty easy to care for if they are placed in the right light. New orchids you just brought home, with lots of spikes, branches, and unopen flower buds should be placed in a good East or Southeast window light, but if you don’t have those light options, The plant should be sitting under a lamp for a few hours a day. I like this light at the beginning of the process to open some of the flowers. If possible you should let a light fan blow over your Orchid collections Orchids love a light breeze. Phalaenopsis has a monopodial manner of growth, the flower spikes can be produced at any time without regard to the maturity of the new growth. Phalaenopsis has a monopodial manner of growth, the flower spikes can be produced at any time without regard to the maturity of the new growth. Phalaenopsis has a monopodial manner of growth, the flower spikes can be produced at any time without regard to the maturity of the new growth.

During this time if your orchid is in a sunny window and has good drainage in it’s growing container, the plant can stand to be watered every three days.

Watering your Phalaenopsis Orchids

Most people who bring orchids home, don’t know their orchids are pretty big drinkers. When visiting orchid farms and talking to the people who take care of Orchids every day, these people water their Orchids twice a day. You are not going to need to do that but understand these plants can stand quite a bit of water and still look and grow beautifully. but the plant needs quite a few extra holes placed in it’s growing container to make sure the plant isn’t sitting in water. *A watering Pro Tip- most old school Orchid growers place their Orchids in a bathroom window and soak the roots of their Phalaenopsis Orchids to make the orchid spike quickly. The humidity of the bathroom along with the constant water speeds up the new spiking process.

Fertilizing Orchids.

Orchids should be really fed once a week with half of what the box recommends. You should use Orchid fertilizer if possible, but Miracle Grow will work if that’s all you have. Make sure to only use half a dose of fertilizer on your Orchid and continue to water as usual.  Some advanced Orchid growers use products like Superthrive (micronutrients) to get the plants to really perform at their peak.

Superthrive is a very powerful fertilizer and 1 drop is too much for one orchid so as they say- don’t try this at home.

What to do with your Phalaenopsis Orchids after your flowers are gone

As your Orchid becomes ‘bloomed out‘ you should be pruning away branches that no longer have flowers, this will help the other flowers to last longer. After your Orchid has bloomed all of the ways out- prune those spikes down to one inch from the root base.

While your Orchid is flowerless and branchless you will need to continue watering your orchid and feeding the orchid once a month. During the spring and summer months, the plant is growing leaves and needs to be fed and watered on a regular schedule. When the fall comes the plant should be placed in the best light in your home or office.

You should start fertilizing once a week again. Phalaenopsis Orchids will need to be in cooler temps  60-70 degrees overnight temperatures will trigger spikes on an Orchids. You should then start inspecting your orchid to see when the Orchid starts to spike and start a new cycle. Once the plant has started spiking the plant needs to be turned a quarter turn every watering. This will help the spikes to grow straight before the spikes get tall enough to be staked.

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Brent Richard Dixon

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