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   Phalaenopsis Care

   Light

    In the home, Phalaenopsis orchids enjoy a spot near or in a bright window. You'll want to avoid direct midday sun but early morning or late afternoon sun is great. In darker or cloudy environments a shaded southern window might be best. You can supplement normal light with fluorescent lights placed approximately 1 foot above your orchid. Time your lights to simulate normal day length. If you have a home greenhouse you should consider using a heavy shade cloth (especially during the summer) to limit light levels to 1,000 - 1,500 foot candles.  The best test for light is to hold your hand a foot above the leaf, if you don’t cast a shadow then you have a proper amount of light. Giving your plant a little too much light is ok, your plant can adapt, but giving your plant too little light, will be like starving it. One can live with a little too much food, but one can not survive if they are deprived of food. Watch the foliage of your plants. If the leaves stay green, are crisp and firm, then the light is probably right. If the foliage is dark green, then the light is too low. If the foliage shows purplish marks or coloration, then the light is probably too high. Sometimes if the light is too high the tips of the leaves will dry up. Becareful not to mistake natually inheirted color traits as a problem, only changes in leaf color and not what it initially looks like should be used as an idicator.

   Temperature

    The ideal temperatures for the orchids range between 55° and 85° F. For ideal growing try to maintain 60° at night and between 75° and 80° during the day. Cool night time temperatures in the fall encourage flower spike initiation. However, once the flower spike is developed, wide swings in temperature can cause unopened bud to drop off. Temperatures in excess of 90° can slow growth. Phalaenopsis also benefit from moderate humidity levels. Ideal levels range between 50 and 75% relative humidity. In a heated home you will want to set your plants on a shallow tray filled with gravel and water. This should help to keep the humidity near your orchid at levels. Make sure that the plants roots are NOT sitting in water.

    Water

    Moth orchids do not like to be dry to the point of wilting. They should be watered thoroughly and then not again until the media is dry. After dry allow a day or so before watering.. How often you water will depend on the type of media your orchid is growing in and its growing environment. Once every week to 10 days is a good starting point. In winter, it will take longer for plants to dry out due to less sun and cooler temperatures.  A good rule of thumb is if you can put your index finger in up to the first knukle and can feel any kind of moisture that the media in the center is still wet and the plant will not need watering. You can also tell by the weight of the plant, a freshly watered plant will weight alot more with the media retaining water than a plant with dried out media. Remember to not get any water on the flowers as this will promote fungal growth.

   Fertilizer

    Recommended fertilizer is all dependent on how well you know your plant. Some prefer certain fertilizers
    and you can go many different directions. For our particular plant, we recommend Pete’s 20-20-20.
    A quarter teaspoon in a one gallon jug is the right dilution and do add this instead of watering once a month.
    Remember once you become in tune with your plant you will know the best fertilizer for it, in its current
    environment. NOTE: too much fertilizer can cause root burn and can kill your plants roots and leave your
    plant healthy. Check your roots every few months for dieing roots. Watch for salt/crystal build up on the
    media at the top of your pots as a sign of too much fertilizer. Fixing the problem will require repotting/flushing.

   Humidity

    This is something that is very important to the phalaenopsis. The phalaenopsis enjoys a nice humidity.
    As mentioned above the humidity should be around 50-75 percent humidity. If you have many orchids next
    to each other they actually act as a small greenhouse and increase the humidity around each other. Kind of
    like huddling in the cold for warmth. If you do not place your orchids near one another you can place a
    small tray underneath your pot with pebbles in it and place your pot on top of the pebbles ensuring that
    the roots are not touching the of water. This will increase the overall humidity of the plant
    and will help keep it happy.

   Potting

    Most orchids break down their growing medium in about 1-2 years depending on the growth conditions.
    So it is important that you repot to give them optimal growing conditions. The first step when repotting
    will be to remove the old mix from the pot and around the roots. Try to be careful during this stage not
    to break or crush any roots. Hollow or mushy roots should be considered dead and cut off at this time.
    Roots that are solid and hard are usually alive. After you have removed the old media and trimmed the roots,
    wash them thoroughly this will make them more flexible as they absorb water and easier to repot.
    When repotting, make sure that you give your plant plenty of room to grow; an inch on all sides will
    give him plenty of room to grow. (this does not apply to seedlings only blooming size plants, all seedlings
    need to be in community pots and are much more sensitive to water conditions, we do not recommend
    raising seedlings.) Place the plant inside the pot with a little bit of growth media in the bottom, and fill in
    around the plant evenly with medium, some roots will break or get cracked during this procedure so it will
    require time to recover about 2-3 weeks. If using bark make sure to lightly shake or tap the pot to let the
    bark settle so the medium settles. Make sure at this point the plant is stable and does not wobble.
    If it is not stable the plant medium needs to be pressed in until it will hold the plant in. Also if using
    sphagnum moss make sure that it is damp and wet before use. Repotting is a big operation for a plant,
    so it will need time to recover. Do not water for 3-5 days to allow roots to heal.

    Also try to choose the best media for your orchid, sphagnum moss is far superior to bark, it creates less mess
    when pots are knocked over, retains more moisture longer and b/c of it's high zinc content makes it
    anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Bark mix is cheaper for larger operatioins but for the home grower is not ideal
    and unless the media required needs to be a well draining media. Bark typically only lasts 8 months before
    it begins to breakdown, sapping away fertilizer from the plant for decomposition and hosting virus, bacteria
    and fungus. Any store bought orchid potted in bark should be inspected to see if it needs repotting
    immediately after flowering.

    What if your orchid is in spike or bloom. If your plant is in spike, and you see it really needs repotting
    (i.e. overflowing out of the pot or medium break down) you may do so, the spike tends to handle repotting
    pretty well. If an orchid is in bud, where the flower buds are on the spike but have not yet opened, then
    you can cause the buds to blast (dry up and fall off) so repotting should not be done unless necessary.
    If the flower is in bloom and you need to repot it will usually cause the flowers to fall off faster than normal.
    So it is highly recommended you do not do this.

   Decorative Pots

    If you wish to place your orchid in a decorative pot while it is spiking, in bud, or flowering, simply remove it
    from its pot and keeping the medium and roots as they come out of the pot together, drop it into
    a decorative pot within the same dimensions as your old pot, or if using one of our clear plastic pots just
    drop it inside of the decorative pot. Remember that if you use another pot that it must allow for proper
    drainage, and also that some pots if in direct contact with the medium (i.e. not having a plastic pot liner inside)
    will absorb water and cause the plant to stay wet much longer thus requiring more time to dry out.
    The best pots are ceramic or those with coatings. Try to avoid clay pots as they can harbor pathogens
    since they are made of organic material. You should never reuse a clay pot especially if the plant in it
    before was dead, it simply isnt worth the cost of the orchid for a 50 cent pot.

   How to get a second flowering

    Has it been 3 months already? Its time to try for a second flowering! There are two different techniques
    you can try. The first technique is to try and cut the stem of your orchid. To cut the stem of your orchid
    you should first wait until the last bloom on your pike begins to fade. Once your last bloom is faded you can
    begin to look for a good place to cut your stem. The ideal place to cut your stem is 1 inch above the third
    fleshy node from the bottom. What is a fleshy node? Fleshy nodes are the bumps below your lowest bloom
    along the shaft of your stem. If cut at the right time, and with proper care your orchids node can be
    jumpstarted into blooming within a few weeks providing you with another bloom! Giving you 6months of
    blooms out of the year!

    Another approach to getting a second flowering is to start over from scratch. Once your last flower begins
    to fade one can cut the stem off completely (recommended for younger plants) this is to encourage a new
    stem to be grown that will be larger and thicker. Without a stronger stem the flowers will not be able to get
    larger. If you prefer the stem can be left alone all together and flowers will grow again but tend to be much
    smaller. After you cut the stem you can expect new flowers in as little as 3 months or as much as a year
    on average, and most likely you will get flowering in 6 months. To encourage your plant to flower again all
    you need to do is follow the steps provided in our care section. But in addition to those steps the plant must
    be exposed to 50-55 degree temperatures at night and about 70-75 degree temperatures during the day,
    trying to keep at least 20 degrees difference. This procedure is most easily done during spring or fall where
    night temperatures near windows get this low. This treatment needs to be repeated for 1-4 weeks.
    After this period a stem will begin to form and you’re on your way to a second bloom. For best results,
    the stem should have been cut immediately after flowering and the plant allowed to grow new leaves
    and roots, outside in the shade in the warmth and humidity of spring and summer. It should be left
    there until the fall at which time you should already see a spike from the temperature change.

   Want bigger flowers?

    So you want to grow an orchid with a large amount of blooms or very large blooms?
    Well just like a city that continues to grow, it needs infrastructure. If there is not enough electricity
    to power all the new homes being built then there can be no new homes built. The same goes for orchids,
    if there are not enough leaves on the plant, it will not be able to support more flowers or larger flowers.
    So the first thing u need to do is grow and enlarge your leaves. To enlarge your leaves expose your plant
    to a slightly more amount of light and try and keep the temperature constant. This will help promote
    the leaves to grow and not blossoms. Once you have larger leaves or more leaves (4 or more)
    your can follow the steps above to re-grow your flowers.