Growing Moth Orchids-Phalaenopsis
How many of you received or bought a Phalaenopsis or moth orchid for the holidays? I was gifted one and may have found some on sale and bought a few more. The flowers last for months. How could one resist? Besides, poinsettias aren’t the only flowers that can be used for holiday decorating, though I do love those too.
You can see in the picture above my collection of orchids that are blooming right now. I have them in a corner of the dining room on plant stands. They make a great display and brighten the corner when we are eating. Now, they look good there, but are not there when they aren’t blooming. The corner is quite bright, but it wouldn’t be enough light for them to grow and flower next year. They need to be in a much brighter spot after flowering to be able to produce enough energy to bloom next year. I personally take my non-flowering orchids and put them on my artificial light stand with my violets. They receive light 12 hours a day every day the rest of the year. When they start sending out bloom stalks, I move them to the dining room or wherever I want color. Now, if you don’t have a light stand, which I’m assuming most of you do not, placing your orchid in a bright window such as the East or West is perfect. I personally have so many plants already in every window, putting them under lights works better for me.
I think growing a Phalaenopsis is as easy as growing an African violet. Then, some people think violets aren’t that easy, either. With the moth orchid, as with the violet, you shouldn’t let it dry out completely. This shortens the life of the flowers and stresses out the plant, as well. I usually water my orchids approximately once a week, but it may be two weeks. Of course, they need to be checked before watering, especially the ones grown in moss. Which brings us to the two types of potting media you will usually encounter. The moss I mentioned and then there is the orchid bark. I’ve also seen styrofoam peanuts used, but not very often. I’ve been told that either the bark or the moss is okay to use. When I re-pot my orchids, I use the same media that is already present in the container. If your orchid is in a plastic pot, which they mostly are these days, it is easy to see the root zone and see what is going on. Usually you can tell by looking at the root zone whether the media is wet or dry.
You can see the pieces of bark in this container above.
The sphagnum moss above is also easy to look at and tell if it needs water. You can take it out and feel it, as well. The bark is darker when it is wet and you can also tell the difference by the weight of the plant whether it is wet or dry.
How do I water mine? Well, I can guarantee you that my orchids will not ever be watered with ice cubes! I don’t care how many people do it or how successful they may be, I’m not putting ice cold water on my orchids. As I ask people when I give my presentations, “Would you want ice water on your feet?” I didn’t think so.
I take my orchids to the kitchen sink and use the sink sprayer to spray the planting media in the pots with tepid water. They also enjoy their leaves being sprayed, but do not let the water sit in the middle of the plant. I have learned the hard way that if it is left in there too long and doesn’t dry out, the leaves rot and they all fall off. This is so depressing. After that happened, I make sure to use a paper towel to blot the water out of the center of the plant. Also, since most of the orchids come in a plastic container inside of a decorative container, I take the plastic pot out of the decorative container to water it. I water it thoroughly and let it drain well before returning it to the decorative cover. This guarantees the orchid isn’t sitting in water and rotting.
Now, when it comes to re-potting, that is for another post. I want to wait until they are done blooming before re-potting, as you should as well.
I’ll leave you with some pictures of my orchids blooming last winter. If you have any questions or comments, please ask in the comments below.