Phalaenopsis orchid culture

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General culture for Phalaenopsis Orchids, including Doritis, and Doritaenopsis.

Phalaenopsis, the moth orchid, is one of the best orchids for growing in the home, and is also a favorite with greenhouse growers.

A full size Phalaenopsis can very possibly be in bloom for 6 to 8 months out of the year; producing two or more complete spikes per year. When the last flower has wilted, the spike can be cut back to about a half inch above the node just below the first flower scar (a node is the bump on the spike). A lateral flower spike will usually form from the node just below the cut.

LIGHT: Phalaenopsis prefer moderate levels of light, with NO direct sun. They do best in an east or west window that gets very early or late sun but without direct sun the rest of the day. They can also be grown in a south facing window if shaded or kept back from the window or under artificial light, or a north facing window that is open to the sky and gets very bright light.

TEMPERATURE: Temperatures should usually be above 60 °F at night, and range between 75 and 85 °F or more during the day. Temperatures higher than 90 °F can be tolerated, but humidity and air flow must be increased. Night temperatures 10 to 15 degrees lower than day temperatures are desirable for several weeks in the fall in order to initiate flower spikes.

WATER: Because Phals have no major water-storage organs other than their leaves, they must never completely dry out. Plants should be thoroughly watered and not watered again until nearly dry through the pot. This can be every other day during a hot summer, or once ever couple weeks during a cool winter. Water only in the morning, so that the leaves are dry by nightfall, and do not let water sit in the crown of the plant (where the leave meet in the middle).

HUMIDlTY: The recommended humidity for Phals is between 50% and 80%. In the home, set the plants on a humidity tray and mist the leaves in the morning (when you remember to!).

FERTILIZER: Fertilizer should be applied on a regular schedule, especially in warm weather when plants are growing. Weekly applications of Dyna-Gro ’Grow’ is appropriate in warm, humid conditions. When flowering is desired switch to Dyna-Gro ‘Bloom’ formula. Fertilize at 1/4 strength with every watering; and flush with clean water every 4th or 5th watering.

POTTING: Phalaenopsis plants must be potted a well-draining mix, such as medium coconut husk mix. Potting in coconut husk is usually done every 3 to 5 years in the spring. Plants potted in fir bark mix should be repotted every 1 to 3 years; in sphagnum, every year! Root rot occurs if plants are left in a soggy, or broken down medium (sometimes indicated by dull, floppy leaves).

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