Phalaenopsis on Tree

Phalaenopsis- Why you are killing it with Kindness

The magnificence of the Phalaenopsis is apprectiated far and wide. The simple flat wing-like blooms are modern, sleek and stylish and suit most decors making them the perfect gift for someone or for your own home. But so many customers come in store disappointed that the flowers had not lasted, or that the foliage became soft and mushy…..

The sad truth of it is they have been killed; killed with kindness. Too much water. Too often.

Image via Flickr

The Phalaenopsis is often known as a ‘Moth Orchid’ based on its flowers appearance, and is the most common variety of orchid due to its ease of production under artificial conditions and the availability of blooming plants year-round. Phals are a fantastic indoor plant, and flower for such a large percentage of the year, with plants blooming throughout Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring. Moth orchids form a cluster of lush, fleshy broad leaves from the rootstock. Arching flower stems, naturally form more horizontally, than vertically emerge and reach above this foliage and carry up to 20 or so flowers. The blooms come in such a wide variety of colours, from the popular pure whites, to rose and mauves, to unusual spotted harlequin varieties also.

Image: Wikipedia

Phalaenopsis are classified as epiphyts, meaning they are ‘air plants’ and in their natural environment they thrive in trunks and leaves of other plants below the canopies of moist lowland tropical rainforests of Asia, New Guinea and northern Australia, protected against direct sunlight. In order to replicate their natural environment, they require warm, humid conditions with filtered light. And whilst the humidity and constant moisture result in quite a damp environment, their rich growing medium is well drained.

The basic requirements to keep your Phalaenopsis happy:

  • A moderately bright windowsill or similar spot to grow in.
  • Watering when it begins to dry out, usually every 7 to 10 days making sure that the plant is well drained. DO NOT LET THE PLANT  SIT IN WATER.
  • Fertilizing with a orchids specific fertiliser
  • Repotting when the bloom is finished
Whilst Phalaenopsis can be repotted anytime, which is different to any other orchid variety, it is still best to do so when not in bloom. Phalaenopsis, particularly younger plants thrive on being repot, but remember a good quality fresh orchid mix is essential for encouraging new growth. Generally, a generic potting mix from a hardware store is not the best choice.
Phalaenopsis will have at least a few nodes going up the spike prior to the blooms. Each of these nodes bears the potential to branch either during or after the initial bloom.
Image: Plant Rescue


To cut or not to cut?

Once a Phalaenopsis has finished bearing flowers you can expect that the stem will begin ti run brown and dry out. It may not turn brown the whole way down, and thats ok. Many of our customers come in having been told conflicting methods, confused as to what to do.

One method involves cutting the spike just below a node where the plant first flowers, allowing the plant to rebloom again as a branch off the existing spike. This method results in the flower display apearing sooner, but as the plant has had no true rest period, the blooms will be smaller.

The other method involves cutting the spike entirely when all the blooms have dropped, Blooms take a large amount of energy from the plant, so this allows the plant to gather up its energy for a sensational bloom and display in the future.



Basal Keiki on Phalaenopsis Orchid
Phalaenopsis stem ready to be cut


This shows a node on a Phalaenopsis spike. Each node has the potential to branch off with a new growth during flowering


Phalaenopsis new spikes are green- these should NOT be cut

This orchid is from a species than bloom sequentially from the same flower spike. So far, the plant has sent off three separate spikes at different times and they will each bear one or two blooms at a time. If you are unsure whether to cut a spike, or not, and are unable to find out the parentage of the plant, you should simply observe.  The best rule of thumb is If the spike remains green, leave it alone’.

Identify Orchid - Spike
Fresh emerging spike :-) Yay! Flowers on their way

Looking for a way to add colour to your bedroom or bathroom? Florist with Flowers have a bunch of healthy and happy Phalaenopsis plants in store currently, looking for their forever homes. If you have room in your home (and hearts) for them, you can order online, or call us direct!

Healthy Phalaenopsis plants currently in store looking for their forever homes

Til next time,

Fwf x


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