Updated: Dec 17, 2018
The Phalaenopsis, better known under the name of moth orchid, is actually not a difficult plant to care for but there are a few rules to respect if you don't want to kill it within the first couple of months.
First things first, where does the Orchid come from? What's its natural habitat?
Most phalaenopsis found in New Zealand are hybrids, especially acclimated for an indoor pot life. But it's always important to remember where you came from, your roots basically (pun intented...)
Orchids' natural habitat is the tropical forest, they grow often on tree trunks as an epiphytic plant. The trees foliage shelter them from the direct sun and their vertical growing pattern means they don't stand in wet soil.
So let's have a look at how best we can reproduce these kind of conditions in our homes here...
Orchids love the early morning sun. However, avoid the direct sun during the day, it might burn them. Remember they are sheltered by the bigger trees foliage...
A trick to know if you are doing it properly: if the leaves start to fade it probably means too much light.
If you have a window facing East then that's the best spot!
If you can, water the orchid in the morning as it’s the best time for them, it gives them time to dry out before the temperature drops at nighttime.
Use lukewarm water as cold water can often shock the orchid. Let the water run through the orchid for a minute or so and then drain completely. Don’t let the soil/ bark get soggy as this can cause the roots to rot.
In winter, water fortnightly and in summer, once per week. When watering, don't get the flowers wet it will cause water stains on them.
Once a month or so you give a little extra love to your orchid and clean her leaves with a wet cloth, it will keep bugs away and will help her transpire better.
To help the orchid grow and bloom, add fertilizer every month during the warmer season.. It will help your orchids flourish.
Once the orchid has finished blooming and the flowers have dropped, cut the stem just above the first or second strong bud. Your orchid should grow a new stem in 3 to 6 month.
In most cases orchids will grow a new stem in Autumn when the daylight gets shorter, but they are known to have quite a strong survival instinct and will sometimes have a growth spur when they get a shock... It could be something like spending a few nights out in the cold, the change of environment or feeling tight in their container after a healthy root growth.
They are basically thinking "oh oh...! it's getting tough out there I need to reproduce myself before I die and become extinct..." and so they grow flowers.
Up to you if you want to experiment and see if you can push your plant into survival mode...
A few things to remember:
- It’s a low light orchid
- Avoid direct sunlight
- Don’t soak the orchids – never let an orchid sit in water
- Likes a warm and humid environment
- More watering required in the summer months than winter.
- Cut the stem once it flowered
You are now all good to go, orchid specialist.
Sit back and enjoy the blooms.