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Phalaenopsis Care

Phalaenopsis, or moth orchids, make great houseplants. Their care and cultural requirements are easily met in the home environment, with little pampering needed.

Light:

Phalaenopsis need only bright indirect light, with little or no direct sun. An east window, or shaded south or west window will do nicely. If the only available areas are fairly dark, supplemental lighting from fluorescent grow lights can help. Place the tubes 6-12 inches above the leaves and turn them on from 12-16 hours each day. natural light near a bright window in most homes is adequate.

Watering:

In most situations, a thorough soaking once each week will be plenty for your orchid. Simply water until the water runs freely through the drain holes in the bottom of the pot. Water in the morning to avoid having moisture on the leaves going into the night. Be sure to remove all excess water that has come out of the drain holes. Never let the plant stand in water.

Temperature:

Normal household temperatures are great for phalaenopsis. Temperatures of 85-90 degrees in the daytime will help top encourage rapid vegetative growth. Night temperatures should be cool, between 60 and 65 degrees. Cooler night temperatures in fall (50-55) for several weeks will help to initiate flowering. Temperatures should be kept fairly constant once flower buds are set. Fluctuations in temperature during blooming can result in bud drop.

Fertilizing:

Fertilize your orchid on a regular schedule. An orchid food that is high in nitrogen (30-10-10) is preferred. Change to a high phosphorus fertilizer (10-30-20 or similar) when trying to promote flowering. Twice a month is usually recommended, but during the winter months when growth is slow, once a month is probably better.

Repotting:

If you need to repot your orchid, spring is best, right after flowering. Rapidly growing seedlings should probably be repotted every year. Mature plants can stay in the same pot for 2-3 years. Plants can be potted in fir bark, fern fiber, or Pro-mix potting soil. Plants growing in Pro-mix will require less watering because the medium retains more moisture than the courser textured bark and fiber products.