Congratulations! You’ve just got a wonderful flower gift. When you first get your orchid gift plant, it will likely be in bloom. Obviously, you want to prolong the blooms as long as possible, here are a few tips that can help you to achieve this.
Orchids flowers are some of the most beautiful indoor plants. Provided they have proper growing conditions, it isn’t difficult to learn how to take care of orchid plants. The paramount importance is of course to ensure that their three basic needs namely light, temperature, and humidity are met. The tips provided here are dedicated primarily to Phalaenopsis, also referred to as moth orchid or butterfly orchid.
The Phalaenopsis orchid gift plant you’ve just received prefer lower light intensities and should be placed further away from the window or keep on a windowsill facing east or north. Direct sun light is a big no no to Phalaenopsis orchid flowers.
Place your orchid plant in a cooling environment with temperature ranging between 18 – 25ºC is best. Consistent temperature without drastic change can prevent your orchid flowers from been traumatized and wilt prematurely. Do note also not to place your flowers directly under air-con duct.
Orchids like high humidity of 50 – 70 percent; and having good air circulation can make all the difference for the health of your orchid. Air circulation is also a big part of the prevention of these types of infestations by keeping the leaves and flowers dry. If the environment is not air-conditioned with a constant temperature, open windows so that the natural airflow will circulate the air. This promotes water evaporation and lots of fresh carbon dioxide. A gentle breeze will also help orchids handle bright sunlight without scorching the leaves.
Orchids need ample water but should be allowed to dry out some between watering. One way to check for watering is by poking your finger about an inch into the growing media. If it’s dry, give it some water; otherwise, let it be. Over-watering causes roots to rot and should be avoided. A simple rule of thumb for your Phalaenopsis orchid watering need is to keep it almost dry between watering! Over-watering is often the number one killer!
After the Bloom
Orchid flowers normally last from four to twelve weeks in a cooling environment. You do not necessarily need to fertilize the plant when they are in bloom. In the event should you decided to keep the plant around for a while and try to nurture the plant to bloom again, here are some great pieces of advice:
- When the blooms fade, cut off the spike 1/2 inch (12 mm) above where it projects from the foliage. Also trim off any dead leaves and tissue, including old flower stems, old leaves, anything rotting, dead roots, etc. Use sterile tools while cutting and trimming orchids. This will help prevent the spread of diseases from plant to plant. It’s recommended that you soak the tools in bleach between uses, or use a disposable razor blade.
- Re-potting your orchid into a more friendly container with the right growing medium. Some recommendations are coco husk chunks, fir barks, hardwood charcoal, sphagnum moss, tree fern fibres, etc.
- Feed your plant with appropriate plant foods. In general, once a month is recommended for most fertilizers. Look for fertilizers that contain nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K), plus trace elements like iron (Fe). Use fertilizer with a higher nitrogen percentage when new shoots are coming out, and fertilizer with more phosphorous and potassium later in the season. Do not overfeed orchids––this can damage them.
- If you’re growing your orchid on bark, use a fertilizer that’s significantly higher in nitrogen (in a ratio of 30(N)-10(P)-10(K)). The bacteria in the decomposing bark will consume a lot of nitrogen.
- Water your orchid thoroughly before feeding.
- To induce spikes, especially in tropical Singapore when day/night temperature fluctuate in a very small range, try water the plant with ice water in late evening.
- Happy growing your orchid!