Phalaenopsis Orchid Care
Some of the Various Phalaenopsis Colors
The Poor Put Upon Phalaenopsis
The Phalaenopsis orchid with it's exotic looks and wide variety of colors, patterns, and even bloom size is a staple of interior blooming plant décor. It is known by interior plant professionals as an easy care long lasting indoor blooming accent, and a top choice. It is widely used as a focal piece in table top displays. It is used in arrangements or presented on it's own, either way the results can be stunning. If properly cared for a Phal can bloom for approximately 6-8 weeks and some have been known to go longer than that.
For someone who understands and works with the Phalaenopsis on a regular basis, commonly called a Phal, it is almost hurtful to hear the oh so common inquiry, "Oh! orchid's those are really hard to care for, right?" There is a very common misconception that this plant is high maintenance, and that is simply not true...
Surely if it is treated like unto any other terrestrial houseplant the results will most likely be unfavorable, but if you know what your dealing with you'll find the Phal to be quite simple to care for.
The understanding of how a Phal uses and collects water in it's natural habitat is key to providing proper care for this plant.
Phalaenopsis is categorized as an Epiphyte, this means it grows on other host plants, and is not directly rooted in the soil. In it's natural habitat a Phal often grows on the bark of trees, the water it collects is from rainwater and humidity only. Phalaenopsis roots are termed air roots as they naturally are designed to be exposed to the air. Keeping all this in mind about the Phal it is easy to conclude that it does not want to be in standing water, and will not be capable of utilizing water the same way terrestrial plants (plants with roots under the soil) do. If it is watered like most other house plants that grow in soil, it's roots will rot, buds will abort and, foliage will drop away.
The easiest way to water a Phal is to lightly shower it's roots with water, and allow all the water to drain away completely. In many cases this method works fine, but orchids are often sold as arrangements, it can be quite a chore to disassemble and arrangement and put it back together successfully, so there is an alternative method of watering in these cases. If you have an arranged orchid take a sponge soaked with water and lightly drip all of the water out of the sponge in a 2" radius around the primary orchid stem. In most environments about 2 sponges worth of water once a week works wonderfully.
Natural Habitat of Phalaenopsis Southeast Asia
Phalaenopsis produce one of the longest lasting blooms of the common interior orchids. these blooms should last up to about 6 weeks with proper care, and depending on how far into bloom they are when they are purchased. The more tightly budded they are when purchased the longer they will last.
Phals are known on occasion to "abort buds" (the buds fall off before opening) from the end of the stem. It is natural to have on occasion a couple of the end buds abort. In shipping and transport the plant has been traumatized and placed into a new environment in which it may sense that it will not be able to support the little buds at the end. If there is a massive drop of all or most of the buds, it may be that the Orchid was exposed to too extreme of temperatures or dryness somewhere in transit. Make sure never to leave your plant sitting in a hot or cold vehicle. Try to get it from the store to its new home as quickly as possible, and when placing it moderate light and temperature conditions are ideal.
One of the most frequently asked questions about a Phal pertains to getting it to re-bloom. In most interior settings this can be difficult, but if the plant has moderate light available it is not impossible if you are a patient person. Many orchids sold in nurseries are not mature enough to reproduce blooms in sub standard environments like our homes and offices so they must be grown to maturity to attempt another round of blooms. The video link below has some very simple and helpful information on this topic if repeat blooms are your interest. If you just like the look and don't wish to wait for new blooms to be produced plan on purchasing a new orchid every couple of months.
For household or office displays Phal are an easy choice. Aside from making sure it is well cared for in transport, handled mindfully so as not to snap it's stem, and attention is paid when watering, Phalaenopsis don't require much else.
Now you tell me, "Are those orchids difficult to care for?"
I'll bet not now that you know what your dealing with.