Growing Phalaenopsis Orchids

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The Phalaenopsis orchids originate from the area extending between India and northern Australia, where temperatures rarely drop below 18 °C. These plants are perennials and can regularly flower for several months in a year if properly taken care of.

If the plant continues to grow well in our home, it will repeatedly develop flowers from new flower offshoots, even several years in a row. Flower offshoots can develop from the old flower stems or from the plant stalk, which is surrounded by its fleshy leaves.

Leaf growth and flowering

Flower stalks are very fragile therefore you need to be careful not to damage them while they are developing. It is recommended that they be fixed onto a stick, although they can also be left to grow unsupported – if their “swinging” way of growth does not bother the grower, of course. The flowering cycle is the consequence of low temperatures, which follows the period of higher temperatures typical of summer.

IN THE WARM PERIOD OF THE YEAR, THE PHALAENOPSIS ORCHIDS STRIVE TO GAIN AS MUCH LEAVES AS POSSIBLE, THUS ACCUMULATING ENERGY FOR SUBSEQUENT FLOWERING.

This leads to the conclusion that the quantity of leaves as well as the flowers will be minimal, should growth in leaves be insuf- ficient due to any reason. It is therefore very important to provide adequate conditions for the plant during the warm period of the year and enable optimal growth of its green parts that produce and accumulate sugars. The growth of a stalk and buds in the cold season will therefore follow only if the plant has accumulated enough energy for flowering. In other case, cold temperatures will not induce flowering since the plant will not have enough strength to afford it.

How do different seasons affect growth and flowering?

In nature, the growth of leaves in Phalaenopsis orchids is limited for only a few weeks, when low temperatures in the monsoon period hinder growth. In our homes, besides somewhat lower temperature, the limiting factor is mainly a short day in wintertime, which reduces activity in leaves for several months. Since shorter days inevitable mean the application of artificial lighting, orchids as well as our nursing strategy need to be adapted to these changes if we are not growing them under lights. This means that, during the winter months, we have to limit the watering, since it takes longer for the substrate in the pot to completely dry out. Besides, we should also adapt the fertilisation process, which can be stopped completely for the period of two months as is shown in the chart below.

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Winter period – the heating season

The Phalaenopsis orchids are good in enduring low air humidity. However, this does not mean they are comfortable when placed next to heating agents. This is why we need to provide them with a bright position located at the east or west part of the building, at least one meter away from the radiators. Placing damp tow- els or a pot full of water on the radiators can reduce the drying effect. It is also very useful to provide a large tray-shaped base, fill it with sand and water, and then place several orchids inside the tray. This way you will make sure the orchids are not placed directly in water, even though the water is standing inside the base and evaporating.