Current Moon Phase

Waxing Crescent
5% of full

Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Orchid Care for Everyone!

Orchid Care for Everyone!

Perhaps you’ve been gifted with a phalaenopsis, or moth orchid, or you couldn’t resist its beautiful blooms and purchased one at the supermarket or florist. Don’t be daunted by the notion that orchids are difficult to look after — phalaenopsis are among the easiest houseplants to care for, and yes, they can bloom again!

Light
Phalaenopsis orchids prefer indirect light for best health. Southern exposures may provide too much light and heat, potentially scorching the leaves. Leaf color will indicate if the light levels are appropriate for your orchid: if the leaves darken significantly, move the plant into more sunlight. Too much light will cause the leaves to turn red.

Temperature
Phalaenopsis orchids are agreeable houseplants, preferring a temperature range between 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night and 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. They are not tolerant of cold, so keep them out of drafty areas and away from chilly windowsills in the wintertime.

Watering
Phalaenopsis orchids should be watered once a week, although factors such as heat, humidity, and light may affect your plant’s watering schedule. Planting medium may also make a difference: orchids planted in bark will dry out faster than those grown in moss. Never overwater, or allow your orchid to dry out completely between waterings.

Do not water orchids from above, which may encourage bacterial rot. Watering in the morning will decrease the risk of infection. Place the pot in a bowl of lukewarm water and allow the plant’s roots to soak up what they need. Drain off any excess water before placing the pot back in its saucer. Orchids will not tolerate boggy conditions, so do not let your plant sit in water for long periods of time.

Fertilizing
Orchids need a regular, year-round feeding schedule to look their best. A balanced houseplant or orchid fertilizer is suitable. Purchase a water-soluble formula, but do not mix it at full strength. A weak solution given three times a month during watering is sufficient.

Humidity
Phalaenopsis orchids love a humid environment. If the air in your house is dry, you can create a little moisturizing “spa” for your orchid. Place a layer of small pebbles in a saucer and pour a small amount of water over them. Do not cover the stones completely with water. Set the pot of your orchid on top of the stones. The plant should never rest in standing water; instead, it will absorb the offered humidity. Running a humidifier, particularly in the winter, will result in more comfortable levels for both you and your orchid!

Repotting
Phalaenopsis orchids should be repotted every two years. It may be necessary to repot your plant sooner if the planting media has started to break down. The key to successfully repotting your orchid is to minimize damage to living root tissue, so use care when removing your plant from its old medium. Any dried, shriveled roots can be removed as you pull away all the crumbling bark and moss. Remember that orchids do not like spacious pots, so the new pot should be only slightly larger than the one the plant came out of. Position the plant in the pot, supported by a commercially-available orchid medium (usually composed of bark, perlite, peat, and moss). Don’t worry if some of the orchid’s roots stick out of the medium — phalaenopsis are epiphytic and in nature, grow fully exposed to air. Water the plant before returning it to the windowsill.

How to get your phalaenopsis orchid to bloom again
Once your orchid has stopped blooming, you should remove the flower stalk to allow the plant to renew its energy reserves. The stalk may be cut off at leaf level, which will promote large blooms in about a year. Use a sharp knife or a pair of scissors with long blades. Never forcibly pull the stalk away from the plant, which could cause damage to the crown. You can try to speed up the blooming process by removing just a portion of the flower stalk, leaving at least two nodes (ridges) on the stem. Small flowers may emerge from one of the nodes within two or three months.

You can encourage your phalaenopsis orchid to rebloom by putting it into a cooler environment. Temperatures lowered by ten degrees Fahrenheit at nighttime may be enough to trigger the growth of a bloom spike. During this “cold” treatment, your orchid will still need regular feeding and watering, and indirect sunlight during the day.

Once your flower stem begins to emerge, don’t forget to support it with a stake — orchid flowers are heavy and will flop over if left unaided.

With minimal care, your healthy phalaenopsis orchid will reward you with gorgeous blooms for years to come!

10 comments

1 Mila { 11.19.14 at 3:52 pm }

Can someone please advise me on fertilizer for Phals- the mix I have is 20-14-13. I have barely ever used it, but when I did, most of the plants got burned or nearly. Though, two of the plants were already mostly gone so it wasn’t surprising. I didn’t even use as much of the mix as the directions stated to. One Phal I put the fertilizer in recently seemed fine with it, but I barely used any of it so I don’t think it was even enough to be beneficial for the plant. Would it be better to use a different ratio mix? Advice?

2 Leslie { 11.18.14 at 10:50 am }

I have two orchids. I don’t no their type but I no they r different. I water them the same way, fertilize them the same and have them n my window all year round as the sun shines in it all year round. Both rebloom and each year put out more flowers. One had 13 flowers on it and the other had 10 and it’s reblooming again. I do nothing special to them sep water and fertilize them. I would like to no their species. If anyone can tell me wht they r tht would great. One has dark almost purple leaves with the blooms small and looks someone splattered them with a paint brush. It blooms in two rows of six. The other I got at the g-store and they had put blue food coloring in it. It’s leaves r light green and big blooms. I think it’s the one talked abt here.

3 kathy { 11.18.14 at 8:34 am }

Loveeeeee the 3 ice cube system…have two orchids..and IT WORKS beautifully…

4 jozy t { 11.18.14 at 8:33 am }

I have 2 types of orchids, one is easy orchid and the other just add ice, i didnt like the just add ice one coz the flowers died so now im trying to rebloom that one, i love the easy orchid coz it tolerated the sun now its got the old bloom and new blooms together and its beautiful than ever

5 LaRieta Fort { 03.03.14 at 7:52 pm }

I too doubted the 3 ice cube watering , and I did not do it..BUT . I did later start to water with Ice cubes and it works !!
My ice cube Orchids bloom beautifully… I just followed the directions .They have grown and I re potted them.. Try it !! It works.

6 Debra Longley { 01.21.14 at 6:10 pm }

Orchids prefer humitity.When the air is dry your orchids won’t do well.bYou can place your orchids on a tray filled with stones and water, this will help.

7 Mary { 01.16.14 at 3:54 pm }

Vanessa,
I bought an orchid and had to think about the 3 ice cube instruction too. I knew the plant wouldn’t like the cold so in the morning i would put 3 ice cubes in a glass and in the afternoon after they melted I would water it. I figured the ice cube reference was just for the water measurement. Needless to say when the weather got cold and we turned the heater on my flowers died even though the vent wasn’t blowing on the flower. But I will try for a re-bloom.

8 Jeannie Evans { 01.15.14 at 4:20 pm }

My orchid has several blooms on it but have not opened for over a month now. Only one has opened. What do I do to get the blooms to open?! This a first time rebloom!

9 Vanessa { 01.15.14 at 2:00 pm }

I thought I would comment on the previous comment concerning watering orchids with ice cubes. I am not sure who created the ice cube-watering method, but orchids, like many other house plants do not appreciate cold water, and that is especially true if exposed roots not covered by bark are being subjected to the close proximity of ice cubes. Room temperature water is best.

10 mary { 01.15.14 at 11:29 am }

I got 2 orchids for $1.75 a piece ,babied them and they have rebloomed 4 times. I also water with 3 ice cubes spaced out during the week, my plants seem to like this watering way better.

Leave a Comment

Note: Comments that further the discussion of the above content are likely to be approved. Those comments that are vague or are simply submitted in order to promote a product, service or web site, although not necessarily considered "spam," are generally not approved.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.