A prized gift that often replaces flower bouquets: the orchid, and more specifically the phalaenopsis orchid, is very appealing. But how can the bloom be extended for more than a few months?
Special advice from Michel Giraud, member of the French Orchid Amateurs Society.
Environment where orchids grow
Orchids sold in flower shops and horticulture stores are hybrid varieties well suited to growing in apartments. Usually Phalaenopsis is one of the parents.
They cope well with moderate temperatures, but not when it gets too cold.
Best avoid dropping the mercury below 60°F (15°C). Also watch out for drafts when you go in and out of the room: move your orchids to a place where the temperature doesn’t swoop up and down.
In summer, you can bring them out to the garden and place them in the shade, preferably rather high up to keep them out of reach of slugs and snails which love eating them.
Recommended exposure for the orchid
Exposure is very important to succeed in growing orchids: they must be placed in a very luminous spot but without any direct sun, for instance near a window with a curtain to veil the light.
Once you’ve found the right space for them, don’t move them around, they loathe that!
Adequate light will ensure you’ll have the joy of seeing them bloom again every year.
Orchids hate excessive water but appreciate moisture. To give them the dose they need, water them once a week, draining the water out in the sink.
Never let the roots bathe in a saucer full of water! However, you can put the pot on a bed of gravel in which you’ll often add water, this will create a higher level of moisture around the plant.
The orchid requires food: a bit of fertilizer every two weeks.
Use common succulent plant fertilizer, but only half the dose written on the packaging is enough already.
Repotting the orchid
Since it is a vine that hangs to trees in nature, the orchid grows airborne roots.
Potted, it must be placed in a substrate prepared from pine bark, peat and clay pebbles, which slowly evolves as time goes on, partly because of the fertilizer.
It is thus recommended to repot every couple years in a similar special mix.
I have 6 orchid plants and they are not blooming. These are the ice cube type watering. And I do fertilize them once a month. But still they do not bloom – any suggestions?
Hello Lois, I take it that your orchids haven’t been producing flowers for over a year. If their last blooming was within the year, it’s normal: phalaenopsis only blooms once a year, twice at most when it’s freshly come out from nursery-optimized growing conditions like when you just purchased it.
If they’ve been for more than a year without flowering, try the following in this order:
– repot your orchid to a new, well-draining mix. This will give roots the best shot at gathering nutrients and energy. Check that all roots look healthy, not just a few. If some are rotted, it means the potting mix should be replaced (see link). If some aren’t very thick or look scrawny when others are vigorous, you’ve run into a problem typical with “ice watering”: water only trickles down a few roots and others always stay dry. Try shifting to the more thorough dunk-and-drain method: drown the root ball (only the root ball) in water for 5 minutes and then drain it entirely. Do this only when there’s absolutely no moisture in the root ball anymore.
– move the plant to where it can get more light. Leaves should be lighter green rather than dark. Dark leaves show that the orchid is putting all its energy into cramming chlorophyll in the leaves to capture as much light as it can.
– if you’re in the northern hemisphere, leave the plant outdoors for a fortnight to give it a sense of cooler nights (55 to 60°F or 12-15°C), no cooler than that. Bring it back in after that.
– keep fertilizing as usual.
Since you’ve got six plants, you can actually try all of these solutions at once on different plants and get a feeling of what works best for your particular group of orchids!