How to Care for a Phalaenopsis Orchid

Phalaenopsis orchids are beautiful in their elegant simplicity. However, orchids in general can be stubborn in producing blossoms if their rather particular growing conditions are not met. Care for a Phalaenopsis orchid correctly by maintaining the appropriate light, temperature, humidity, watering, fertilising and potting conditions so that you can enjoy perennial blossoms.

Place your orchid in a location where it can get bright, indirect light. A western or southern facing window is best. Phalaenopsis orchids will develop a slight reddish tinge in the middle of the plant when optimal light exposure has been achieved. Do not place your orchid in direct sunlight. This can burn the leaves and kill the plant as well as keep it from producing blossoms.

Give your orchid plenty of ventilation with at least a 10 degree difference between night-time and daytime temperatures. You can measure the air temperature with a thermometer, or place a thermometer in the soil and check it periodically to make sure the necessary temperature variance is in place. If the air needs adjustment, a fan to circulate the air can be placed near but not directly on the plant.

Water your orchid early in the day with tepid, not cold, water. Do not allow your roots to become waterlogged as this will kill the plant. Allow any excess water to drain before replacing the plant in its location. Orchids should never sit in a pool of water. Also, consider the type of potting soil and pot when determining the watering schedule. Clay pots absorb more water than plastic pots which will retain water in the soil. Larger pots dry out more slowly than smaller ones, so water the plant according to its need by watching carefully and monitoring the leaves. Orchid leaves, just like any other plant, will wilt when they need water.

Fertilise Phalaenopsis orchids potted in a bark mix with a urea-free formulation fertiliser. For orchids planted in a peat-based mix, a balanced formulation is appropriate. Switch to blossom-inducing fertiliser once new leaves have matured which generally occurs later in the summer and continue to use this during flowering. Alternatively, switch between fertilisers each time you feed. Fertilise plants 2 to 3 times a month during the late spring and early summer and 1 to 2 times per month during the late fall and early winter.

Re-pot your orchid every 12 to 18 months when the soil and/or bark mix begins to decompose. Use a mix of two-thirds bark and one-third perlite or special potting soil for orchids. Tug the plant free of the dirt and shake any dirt loose from the roots. Re-pot the orchid with your potting soil and gently press it down among the roots taking care not to break or smash any of them. Orchid roots grow slowly, and your plant will not adapt well if its roots are damaged during the transplant process. After repotting, allow your plant to adjust in partial shade for a few days.

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