Re-blooming Your Moth Orchid

The easiest orchids to grow indoors are Phalaenopsis Orchid, commonly known as the Moth Orchid. These luxurious flowering plants have thick-leaves with elegant and exotic arching sprays of flowers (currently all the rage in the wedding industry). As their blooms last an average of 50 days and being so abundant, this adds to the plants popularity, with many people treating Phalaenopsis like cut flowers. When the flowers start to drop off, the plant is usually discarded and replaced, which is a shame as they can be kept to re-bloom twice a year under ideal conditions.

Caring for a dormant, resting Phalaenopsis orchid can be like caring for a daffodil: You’re watching a bare stalk and leaves for a few months in hopes the plant will reward you with another round of bright and beautiful blooms

The good news is that with just a little tender loving care, Phalaenopsis are among the easiest orchids to grow.

The single biggest reason they crash, is due to incorrect watering: usually overwatering, sometimes under watering, or a combination of the two. 

When your plant is done blooming, cut off the stalk leaving three nodes from the base (those little brown lines on the stem below where the flowers were). Note that orchids don’t like to be moved very much, so ideally, find a spot the plant will like.

In general, phalaenopsis prefer:

  • Filtered, bright light with no direct sunlight, as the leaves burn easily if they are overexposed to the sun.

  • Humidity, you can also maintain the right humidity conditions by applying a light mist with a spray bottle.

  • Plants should be kept moist, but avoid overwatering, so drainage is an absolute must!

  • Warmth, with a minimum of cold drafts. They are tropical!

Once you’ve got your plant in place, begin routine care. Phalaenopsis are typically grown in a chunky mixture of pine bark, charcoal, and sphagnum moss. This mixture is designed to drain very rapidly and allow the orchid’s roots to get plenty of air. Because of this, you’ll probably need to water your orchids weekly, depending on the humidity and temperature of your home.

Phalaenopsis orchids also require medium to high humidity levels. This can be achieved by placing the plants on a saucer of gravel, wet the gravel but be sure the base of the pot is above the water level. As the water evaporates adequate humidity will be provided. Alternatively, you can give your orchid a good daily mistting.

One of the secrets to growing these beatuies is to keep the roots just damp but the leaves as dry as possible. This means the growing media should be allowed to nearly dry out before watering. After watering and with a soft cloth, dry the leaves off as quickly as possible, especially if you have water laying in the crown of the plant where the leaves join.

Orchids enjoy temperatures most humans do, A minimum temperature of 15 degrees celsius and a maximum of 30 degrees is optimal, but be mindful that in their native tropical environment they experience a drop in night-time temperature. This drop triggers re-blooming so in the warmer months you might benefit from placing your orchid in a location that experiences those warmer temperatures during the day, and slightly cooler ones at night.

Once the steam has emerged, the hard part is done! It’s highly recommended feeding your plant during its growth period. Fertilizing your plant is just as important as watering. Ideally, using a soluble flowering plant fertiliser at half strength every second watering. A complete fertiliser low in nitrogen is ideal, there are orchid specific plant foods products available on the market. Continue to provide good care for the plant and it should reward you with another season of blooms. Sometimes getting a re-bloom can be tricky, so don’t get discouraged. Keep with it.

Mature plants will flower twice each year so flowering can be achieved for up to half a year since each bloom lasts up to from 6 to 12 weeks.

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