There is a true paradox in the perception we have of orchids, the so-called fragile plants, when the reality is that: they are really strong plants that can flourish again even in the least experienced hands. These are the basic concepts that you should know for the maintenance of indoor orchids.
Phalaenopsis are one of many members of the orchid family. They are native to the tropical regions of southern Asia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and the Malay Archipelago. It was the Dutch botanist Blume who discovered the Phalaenopsis in 1825. In the dark, what he took for butterflies was actually just the flower of this orchid. Hence its name derived from the Greek phaina = butterfly and opsis = appearance.
Each flower has five petals and a “lip” in the middle. This colorful lip acts as a landing strip for insects that visit the interior of the flower. A fine example of natural architecture!
The leaves are more or less fleshy, generally ovoid to oval, 10-40 cm long. Depending on the species, they can be pendulous or almost horizontal. The color of the leaves varies from light green to dark green.
The inflorescences appear most often anyway in the lower leaf axils. They are generally branched and the flower stalks, depending on the species, can vary from a few centimeters to 1 meter long. For some species, the flowers open one after the other, for others – almost simultaneously.
Phalaenopsis grows wild on trees and rocks in the Asian and Australian rain forests.
Temperature: between 18 and 25° Celsius during the growth period. It is better not to expose the plant to a temperature below 20°.
At night, the temperature should not drop below 16°, for young plants, a few additional degrees are necessary. Phalaenopsis withstand higher temperatures as long as they have good humidity.
Orchid: needs mild fertilizer
Very light doses of fertilizer should be added at the beginning of the season (March/April). And you do not have to pay them in winter because the plant is at rest. Avoid fertilizer sticks, because the fertilizer goes directly on the roots, which leads to the death of the roots or, in the best of cases, to burns. Do not fertilize young plants and newly transplanted plants.
How to water an orchid?
Watering must be done regularly but not excessively, at the risk of rotting the roots. If the roots (rhizomes) soften and turn black, the watering will have to be spaced and the pot should be drained well. In spring and especially in summer, water twice a week, especially in hot weather.
In winter, reduce watering to twice a month. Get used to weighing the pot. If it’s light, water it. Preferably water the base of the plant in the morning with water at room temperature.
The correct location for an orchid
This plant needs a lot of light, but avoid direct sun. Also avoid exposing it to cold air currents. Never place it near cut flowers and fruit. Fruits like tomatoes, bananas, and apples produce high levels of ethylene. This gas will influence the production of ethylene in the plant and therefore will cause faster aging of flowers and leaves.
replant the orchid
Phalaenopsis can be transplanted year-round, but it is best done in the spring before warm weather and in late summer. Winter is not conducive to a good recovery of the plant. Transplanting during this period should be avoided or reserved for plants in too poor a condition to wait for spring.
Do not transplant it during flowering and in the presence of stems. To encourage flowering, or the emergence of a bud, in the case of Phalaenopsis, you can cut the discolored flower stalk above the second or third node (count from the base). In other orchids, this stem should be cut 2-3 cm from the base.
How to choose the pot for your orchid
Choice of pot: Take 1 pot with a diameter greater than that of the pot. For example: if it is 12 cm, choose a 14 cm one.
Choice of pot: the bottom can be flat if you use the drench technique when watering, or you can take a pot with a small rim on the bottom so you can put the water up to the edge and the watering is ready.
Preferably choose a transparent glass pot. You will be able to observe the quality of hydration of the roots and the latter will take advantage of it to fill themselves with light. The roots must always be moist and green, otherwise the plant will dry out.
Precautions when buying a plant
After purchasing a phalaenopsis, place it away from the others for a while (15 days on average). Then you can be sure that the plant is not sick. Indeed, with the change in growing conditions, the plant can develop diseases (appearance of parasites, mealybugs, etc. already present on the plant before purchase).
To properly select a phalaenopsis, look carefully at its roots (almond green to deep green), the undersides of the leaves (bright green, plump leaves), and the condition of the flowers. Never buy orchids in the fruit and vegetable section, it is a very bad location!