Just today, I received an orchid in the mail, inspiring me to write about orchids. As you undoubtedly know, Phalaenopsis is a flowering genus of plants from the Orchidaceae family. Orchids, in my opinion, some of the most regal and elegant plants to look at, and it is no wonder at all that they were once reserved only for royalty. When it comes to giant blooms on large, cascading flower spikes, no other orchid comes close to the Phalaenopsis. In this post, I’ll be discussing how to utilise these plants in your indoor space, as well as how to keep them in tip top shape.
How do I incorporate Phalaenopsis orchids in my space?
Phalaenopsis orchids can be kept in bright, indirect light, medium light or low light. They will obviously grow faster in bright light but anything goes with these plants in terms of light. This makes them extremely versatile in terms of where they can go in the home. Given the variation in their overall size, leaf colour, flower colour and growing options, they can go with all kinds of set ups aesthetically. However, I would recommend making this plant a centrepiece on a table, or as a standalone plant in a bathroom. These plants, when flowering, deserve their own space to be fully appreciated for their beauty without the distraction of other plants. However, when they are not blooming, they’re rather plain but charming plants. In this form, I like to think of them as supporting elements of other, more showy plants.
Light: Bright indirect light, medium light or low light are fine.
Watering: These plants like to stay constantly moist but still have good air circulation around the roots, as they are epiphytic plants, meaning that they grow attached to trees in humid areas, rather than being rooted into the soil. Sphagnum moss, coco coir and clay beads are able to achieve this effect, as they will stay evenly moist if you give them adequate water. However, it is important that they medium does not become soggy and weighed down/compacted, as this interferes with air flow. If you plan on using these growing mediums, try bottom watering to avoid letting the medium get weighed down by water falling on it from above.
Some also prefer to grow orchids in bark, as it doesn’t retain water, thus lowering the chance of root root. If using bark, only water when the bark feels only ever so slightly moist.
Fertilising: Use a specialised orchid fertiliser, or dilute a normal fertiliser as much as you can and slowly work your way up from there. Fertilise once a fortnight. Use an orchid bloom booster in the winter to encourage blooming.
Propagation: These orchids can only be propagated through keikis, small clones which grow from flower spikes or from the base of the orchid. Remove these carefully when they have at least 5cm (2 inches) of root growth
General care tips:
- Do not attempt to pot up aerial roots. They will rot if you attempt to do this
- If you do happen to lose all the roots, put the orchid in sphagnum moss of water to encourage root growth. Mist the underside of the leaves at night time as a means of foliar feeding
- If you see purple pigment on the underside of the leaves, do not be alarmed. This is just anthocyanin, which is kind of like sunscreen for plants.
- Phalaenopsis orchids are prone to spider mites. You can find out how to exterminate them and prevent an infestation in this post.
- Do not water orchids with ice cubes, despite the common “Just add ice” myth, which I unpack here.