Phalaenopsis (Fal-en-op-sis) are one of the easiest orchids to grow here in Florida and are found nearly everywhere because they are so popular and long blooming.
They are sold as house plants because they don’t want a lot of light. Put them on your coffee table and enjoy their blooms for months.
Phalaenopsis (Phals for short) will do very in your home as long as they get bright light but do not get any direct sunlight on their leaves. Shaped like a rabbit’s floppy ears, the leaves are very sensitive to the sun’s rays and will burn very quickly if exposed for more than an hour in the direct light. Like all plants, however, they need some very basic care to survive and rebloom the next year.
Unlike most orchids, phals don’t like to dry out between watering. They have no way of storing water and therefore need to be in a potting medium that won’t dry out quickly. Our Phal mix consists of cattleya mix combined with some peat moss. Or you may use quality sphagnum moss to help retain moisture. Examine the potting media your Phals have been planted in and adjust your watering schedule so that they almost dry out between watering, but not completely. Usually with our Phal mix, weekly watering is sufficient to keep them damp. They don’t want to be wet, just damp. Wet feet cause the roots to rot and then the plant will die.
Weekly when you are watering your Phals, they should be given a weak solution of our orchid fertilizer. The saying “Orchids should be fed weakly, weekly” is appropriate. A feeding once a month with a “Bloom Booster” is also recommended. At Sundance we also use a drop per gallon of Super Thrive when we feed. This product acts as a supplement of micro nutrients which all orchids need.
Typically after your Phals are finished blooming, it is time to repot them. The long stem(s) should be cut off where they are attached to the plant. Then they should be removed from the old pot and discard all the old potting mix. Rinse roots and trim any dead and/or damaged roots. While roots are wet form them gentility into a ball, they are pliable when wet. Then place into a new plastic pot not much bigger than the root ball. Place a small layer (about an inch) of Styrofoam peanuts (not biodegradable) in the bottom of the pot for drainage. Then place root ball in pot and fill with Phal mix or sphagnum moss. The plant after repotting should be watered and placed in an outside, shaded area that has a breeze so that it can rest, grow new leaves and get it’s strength back in preparation for the next year’s bloom cycle. If your plant is thriving and healthy it is okay to leave the bloom spike. It can continue to produce blooms, branch and produce aerial keikis (babies).
Phalaenopsis need a chilling to initiate a bloom spike. As we know it doesn’t get cool until late November. Let your phal stay outside on the lanai, unless the temperature is going to go below 50 degrees, and the orchid will start to grow a bloom spike or two. It should bloom flowers in about 2-3 months, and will continue to bloom for three or more months.
When shopping for Phalaenopsis there is a definite “season” when it is best to buy them. They do not like the heat of the warmer months or the dryness of excessive air-conditioning. It causes them to drop their flowers prematurely. They do much better when purchased from November thru April. This is the time they are most abundant and in far better condition. Phals offered from May thru October are usually very young plants with few blooms per spike.
Phals will give you years of enjoyment if you follow these simple steps in their care. As always we are here to answer any questions you may have about the care and growing of healthy Phalaenopsis orchids.