The Phalaenopsis orchid is a very good home beautifier due to its pretty inflorescences that are loaded with more than 20 pure white, uniquely spotted harlequins.
This orchid’s bloom spikes usually appear in early fall, and they grow from underneath the second top leaf node.
This orchid is monopodial and grows at least one to three new leaves each year. Let us go into detail and unearth more information pertaining to this orchid.
- What Is Phalaenopsis Orchid?
- Phalaenopsis Orchid Care
What Is Phalaenopsis Orchid?
The Phalaenopsis orchid is a perennial plant genus that is also known as the Moth orchid. It is native to the tropical climates of Australia and Asia in which they grow on tree branches and trunks. This genus includes species like the Phalaenopsis gigantea, Phalaenopsis aphrodite, and Phalaenopsis stuartiana.
Phalaenopsis Orchid Care
The Phalaenopsis orchids are much-adored plants in their natural habitats you need to imitate tropical environments as much as you can to help them flourish. You should strike a balance between humidity, light, temperature, airflow, and fertilizers to curb deficiencies that take away your Phalaenopsis’ beauty.
– Water Requirements
The Phalaenopsis is a monopodial plant, meaning that it grows only a single stem. Unlike sympodial (branching) orchids, it does not have large pseudobulbs that store water and this makes its tolerance to drought very low.
You should water your Phalaenopsis orchids once you notice that their exposed roots become silvery-white, and this may take about a week to show. For the best results, we advise that you gently pour warm water on the Phalaenopsis plant’s, bark, and aerial roots about three to four times over a period of about 10 minutes
You must ensure that the water is completely drained from the growing medium before returning your plant to its window seal. Additionally, make sure no water droplets remain resting on the stem of the orchid as this causes rotting and death of new growth.
The orchid’s air roots should turn from a silvery color to pale green after sufficient watering. Please note that as the plants start to flower, you should cut back on quenching your plant’s thirst and don’t water if the medium is still wet.
Avoid getting the growing medium overwatered because, under this condition, the Phalaenopsis orchid’s roots become more susceptible to rotting.
This calls for the use of a well-draining growing medium and potting container with enough holes to lose excess water. Watering is highly determined by the rate at which your plant loses water and this is mainly due to temperature, humidity, and light conditions of the environment.
– Light Requirements
Phalaenopsis plants require moderate and indirect light for their upkeep. However, you can only expose the plant to direct light during winter when sunlight intensity is low.
Place the orchid on an east- or south-facing window seal for the plant to get as much light as possible. When the Phalaenopsis orchid gets enough light, its leaves become light green whereas dark green leaves are a result of inadequate light.
When exposed to excessive light, the leaf margins of your plant will turn to a red or pinkish color, prior to eventually assuming a yellow color. We advise you to rotate the plants so that the foliage grows even. During low sunlight periods, using artificial lighting is a good alternative.
We recommend that you position the Phalaenopsis plant 12 inches below fluorescent lights. Depending on their length, the tubes should be between 40 to 74 watts.
– Soil Requirements
Being epiphytic, the Phalaenopsis orchid plant grows on trees in its natural habitat. You should consider making a potting medium that consists of fir tree bark, Monterey pine, or redwood bark chips.
To improve water retention, you may create a potting medium consisting of sphagnum moss, perlite, coconut husk chips, or charcoal. Alternatively, you can acquire a commercial potting mix that is specially made for orchids.
A loose Phalaenopsis potting media allows air to circulate around the root system. Another feature of a good Moth orchid growing medium is the ability to drain away excess moisture. Make sure the optimal pH of the growing medium is between 5 and 6.
If the pH is high, ions like copper, phosphate, and boron become difficult to absorb whereas, at low pH, nitrogen, sulfur, and molybdenum are not easily taken up.
– Temperature Requirements
Temperature maintenance plays an important part in Phalaenopsis orchid parenting. Just like the Tolumnia orchid, the Phalaenopsis’s preferred temperatures perfectly suit your home or indoor conditions.
The latter means that you do not have to worry much about adjusting the temperature to suit this plant when grown indoors. Moth orchids do best in temperatures between 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, the Phalaenopsis orchid also does well in normal indoor temperatures that are usually around 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. Orchids love contrasting day and night temperatures.
They need cooler nights with temperatures around 55 degrees Fahrenheit to trigger flowering. If the temperatures drop to freezing levels, the moth orchid’s cells become vulnerable to bursting. However, we advise that you transition your plant to a warmer spot, especially in winter.
– Humidity Requirements
To keep your orchids well-hydrated, the ideal humidity for the Phalaenopsis should be between 50 to 70 percent. When the temperature is high, humidity runs low so you should consider supplementing it.
Furthermore, if the humidity level around your plants is higher, ensure there is a turbulent airflow to curb fungus, rot, and diseases. Alternatively, you can use artificial means to stabilize humidity, for instance, constantly running an electric ceiling or stationary fan in a room where the orchids are growing.
Nonetheless, when humidity is lost, pebble trays are good low-cost alternatives. As the water evaporates, the moisture in the environment improves. Electric humidifiers also help a lot in managing the desired humidity levels around your plants.
Although we do not recommend this method, grouping your plants is also helpful in keeping their immediate environment saturated with moisture that is released through transpiration.
– Fertilizing Requirements
During summer, Phalaenopsis orchids become much more active and develop themselves, especially with the enhancement of fertilizers. We advise that during the growing season, you feed them once in three to four weeks using diluted orchid fertilizer.
Fall, winter, and spring are flowering seasons, and fertilizing during this period will encourage the Phalaenopsis to grow excessive foliage, thereby suppressing bloom development. Also, cooler temperatures in winter do not support plant growth, so it is not wise to feed them to avoid an unnecessary accumulation of excess salts in the growing medium.
Before using fertilizers, you should read the instructions on the package to avoid misusing them. When over-fertilized, the Phalaenopsis orchid’s sensitive root system dies, leading to discoloration of leaves, wilting, falling off of blooms, and eventual death.
As you approach the flowering period, it is wise to flush the growing medium with distilled water to get rid of salts that build up from continuous application of fertilizers, while encouraging blooms at the same time.
– Pruning Requirements
The Phalaenopsis’ blooms fade as they approach the dormancy period. Although the blooms can fall off on their own, you should prune them off to keep the orchid stunning.
To encourage reblooming, you can use a sterilized pair of scissors or a sharp knife to cut off the top part of the stem about one inch above the node. You should also remove any dead, black, or brown leaves as well as mushy, unhealthy, and dead roots.
As soon as you cut off diseased parts of the orchid, you should properly dispose of them to avoid passing infections to other plants. Note that, some of the orchids’ roots are visible above the soil and they are called aerial roots.
Do not cut them off as this is normal with orchids. Pruning is also important in keeping your beloved plants in shape by cutting off any uneven or messy foliage.
Also, air circulation in plants improves when pruned. Remember that you have to clean the tools with an alcohol-based disinfectant soon after using them.
The Phalaenopsis orchid can be best propagated by planting baby shoots that are known as Keikis. They appear as a new or old flower spike periodically and are identical to the parent plant.
Although you can also propagate this orchid by seed, this process is hectic and needs some laboratory processes to succeed. Seed propagation is only common to commercial growers who can afford the costly and time-consuming processes.
– Propagating From Keikis
Before getting in contact with the Phalaenopsis orchid, wash your hands thoroughly with a disinfectant soap and sterilize your scissors. You should also put in place a spray bottle, alcohol wipes, and an orchid potting medium.
First, you should identify a Keiki that is about a year old, three inches in length, and with at least two or three healthy leaves as well as a few roots. Carefully separate the Keiki from the parent plant and keep the roots intact.
The potting medium should be moistened first and then make a shallow hole in the middle. Now, place the Keiki in the hole and fill the cavity with some extra potting medium. Ensure that the leaves are well above the potting medium.
It does not matter if the top portion of the root system remains exposed. Mist your Phalaenopsis orchid every day with water until it establishes itself.
Phalaenopsis orchids can be quite a pest and disease resistant, especially when care requirements are followed in growing the plant. However, the most possible threats are diseases, leaf rot, and insects. These problems can the rectified if they are identified earlier, so you should check your beauties regularly to help them thrive.
– Root Rot
Rotting of the root system is one of the most common problems encountered by Phalaenopsis growers. This rotting is mainly caused by overwatering.
When you let the plant sit in a soggy medium for a long time, the roots start rotting due to inadequate oxygen absorption. Also, the micro-organisms that cause this condition manifest and multiply in continuously soggy media.
If waterlogged conditions are prolonged, the lower part of the stem starts rotting as well. When your plant starts wilting, yellowing, and losing its blooms, quickly check its roots and trim off bad ones.
Unfortunately, severe cases cannot be reversed, and you will have to discard the entire plant. It is, however, important to detect the cause of rotting on your orchid first and fix it to avoid further problems.
We recommend that you use a well-draining potting media along with well-drained pots to release excess moisture. We also advise watering your orchids only in the early hours of the day and ensuring that excess water drains out of the growing medium before nightfall.
– Bacterial Leaf Rot
The bacterial leaf rot disease is another threat to your Phalaenopsis orchid. When some mushy and soft brown spots appear on the leaves of your orchid, lookout for bacterial leaf rot.
This disease is caused by prolonged exposure to high humidity and low temperature. This disease rapidly spreads to other leaves and in other orchid species like the Rhynchostylis Gigantea, Phragmipedium, Brassia orchid, and several others, it also attacks the pseudobulbs.
When detected earlier, recovery chances are high, whereas late detection leads to the death of the plant. Once you notice that your plant has been affected by the bacterial leaf spot, we recommend that you isolate the plant to stop the bacteria from spreading to other plants.
Cut off the affected parts of the plant and dispose of them before the whole plant is engulfed by the bacteria. Use antibacterial sprays to treat the affected plant and eliminate the causative bacteria.
– Crown Rot
Once you notice the leaves at the base of your orchid discoloring, get prepared to fight the crown rot. This disease is caused by stagnant water at the base of the orchid, as well as inadequate air circulation.
It is quite unfortunate that, if not tackled promptly, crown rot can kill your plant. You should remove all the rotting leaves and use a fungicide to spray the affected parts of your orchid.
To prevent this problem, the growing medium needs to have the qualities to lose excess water and the container should also have enough holes to let excess water out.
– Mealybugs and Spider Mites
Spider mites cause some silvery-white patches on the undersides of the Moth orchid leaves. Once you notice this feature, spray the entire plant with Neem oil to eliminate them.
Mealybugs leave sooty mold-like substances on the foliage of the Phalaenopsis orchid. To wipe out mealybugs, you should spray the entire plant with an insecticide.
The Phalaenopsis orchid is a hardy plant, and when properly taken care of, it can beautify your spaces. We will go through some of the important points covered in this simplified guide:
- Being a monopodial plant, the Moth orchid needs less watering compared to several species that have pseudobulbs that store water.
- Naturally, the Moth orchid thrives in temperatures between 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. When grown indoors, temperatures between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit are also good.
- Propagation for the Phalaenopsis orchid is best achieved through planting the Keikis. The seed method is quite hectic as it includes some laboratory processes.
- You should be on the lookout for root rot, bacterial leaf rot, crown rot, mealybugs, and spider mites which may take away your wonderful plant’s gorgeousness.
Hopefully, these care tips have helped you to acquire the much-needed know-how in growing the Phalaenopsis orchid so, get yours and enlighten your spaces!
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