Phalaenopsis Orchid – Care, Growing, Watering, Requirements, Propagation
As one of the most popular houseplants Phalaenopsis orchids are not only easy on the eyes because of their beautiful flowers, but they’re also surprisingly easy to grow.
Because I know many of you have this plant in your indoor ‘garden’, I’ve put together a quick guide to growing and caring for phalaenopsis orchids with some useful tips on how to keep your plant healthy and blooming year after year.
Phalaenopsis Orchid Plant Care Tips
Phalaenopsis orchids are not demanding plants. They’re rewarding to grow, producing blooms that can last for months.
They not only have long-lasting blooms, but they also tend to be packed with flowers, an aspect that most growers will view as an accomplishment.
There aren’t many requirements to grow these orchids and even if you’re a beginner you can easily get a handle on things. Be sure to also check the requirements of your specific variety as they may have additional requirements not covered here.
Here’s what you need to know about the general growing requirements of Phalaenopsis orchids:
The size of phalaenopsis orchids vary depending on the type of phalaenopsis you have. Usually, this plant is between 8 and 36 inches tall and 12 inches wide.
Therefore, even if you own a variety that grows a bit taller, it’s still at nice size that you can easily accommodate.
When it comes to light requirements, some varieties may be a bit more finicky than others, but on the whole this plant thrives in indirect light and will do well in lower light conditions as well.
Direct light should absolutely be avoided, or the leaves of the plant will scorch. Keeping these plants in an east-facing window is ideal, but other locations work as well if you make sure they’re shaded. When it comes to light requirements, ‘bright shade’ is what phalaenopsis orchids really need.
A healthy plant that’s getting enough sun exposure is one that had dark leaves on top with dark red streaks on the underside of the leaves. Rotating the plant from time to time will ensure a more uniform growth.
Although the fleshy leaves of phalaenopsis orchids can store some water, they don’t have a high drought tolerance nor does the plant need lots of water.
A good rule to follow is to check the exposed roots if they start turning silvery white. If so, water the plant. This will usually lead to a watering schedule of about once a week. Watering the plant weekly is advisable during the growing season.
During the blooming season, it’s enough to water the plant every other week. Make sure to base your watering decision on other factors as well such as the color of exposed roots, the dampness of the potting media and the color of the leaves.
As with other plants, letting water sit around the roots of the plant will cause root rot. So, put only as much water as it can easily drain and that leaves the soil damp but not soggy.
Temperature & Humidity
Phalaenopsis orchids thrive in normal to warm house temperature. In terms of numbers, these orchids enjoy a temperature range between about 75- and 85-degrees F but adapts to slightly lower temperatures between 65 to 70 degrees.
Besides warm temperatures, these plants need a temperature contrast between day and night. This is mainly needed to induce flowering. Night temperature at around 55 degrees F is ideal to induce blooming.
The demand for humidity of phalaenopsis orchids is usually higher the higher the temperature in your home. Good airflow and fast-draining soil will help reduce the risk of rot and fungus.
Phalaenopsis orchids are epiphytes, meaning that they’re plant that require a host plant to grow. In their natural habitat, these host plants are usually trees, so the potting medium must meet the qualities of the host plant.
You can create your own potting medium, which should have redwood bark chips, ground fir tree bark, or Monterey pine bark chips in combination with sphagnum moss, charcoal, perlite, or coconut husk chips.
Alternatively, you can get Phalaenopsis orchid potting medium from the store, which essentially contain a variation of the above-mentioned potting media.
It’s important to allow the air to circulate around the roots to create conditions similar to what these plants are accustomed to in nature.
Use a weak orchid fertilizer weekly during the growing season and monthly during the blooming season and in winter. Blooming fertilizer for orchids can be used to stimulate blooming.
Don’t overdo it with the fertilizer, keep it weak, and remember that less is more.
Potting & Repotting
Always look for free-draining containers when planting or replanting. Excess water or soil that retains too much moisture will cause root rot and promote the development of fungal diseases.
Phalaenopsis Orchid Plant Propagation
There are two ways to propagate phalaenopsis orchids, both of which are time consuming. The first method is by seed. The second method is by waiting for the plant to produce a baby orchid or keiki.
Keikis usually appear on a new or old flower spike and it takes about one year for it to grow to a size that it can be separated from the mother plant and transplanted to its own pot.
At around the one-year mark, the keiki will already have its own leaves and roots, so it’s the best time to plant it.
Different Types of Phalaenopsis Orchid Plant
There are many varieties of phalaenopsis orchids and hybrids are constantly being produced. This leads to hundreds of choices and options when it comes to these plants.
Of course, the main attraction of these orchids are their flowers, so thankfully there is an abundance of colors and shapes.
Here are a few of the species that I consider the most beautiful:
- Phalaenopsis maculata: Produces white or cream flowers that are speckled on top with red.
- Phalaenopsis venosa: Produces long-lasting blooms (they can last from 3-6 months) that are a brown red or brown/green with hints of yellow. They’re great for hanging baskets.
- Phalaenopsis fuscata: Flowers are fragrant and have a fleshy texture. They’re a pale yellow with hints of green and feature chocolate brown spots at the base.
With hundreds of varieties, you’ll surely find one that you’ll enjoy. Make sure to check the specific growing requirements of your variety and adapt the tips you’ve read in this article to the needs of your variety.
Color is not the only thing that changes from variety to variety, but the shape and size of the flowers also change. Some flowers are starry and small, others are rounded and large.
Overall, almost all varieties produce a lot of flowers when they bloom, which is the chief reasons these plants are so beloved and thought of as rewarding plants.
Phalaenopsis Orchid FAQs
Whether you already have a phalaenopsis orchid or you’re thinking of growing one, here are some questions and answers that can be useful to you:
Why won’t my Phalaenopsis Orchid Bloom?
There are a few factors that may come into play as to why your orchid isn’t blooming or has stopped blooming. One of the most common issues is a lack of fluctuation between daytime and nighttime temperatures.
But other things like lack of enough light, bad soil, overwatering, bad root system can all be causing your orchid to stop blooming.
Are Phalaenopsis Orchids Prone to Diseases?
Generally, there aren’t major issues or pest problems with these plants. The occasional scale, mealybugs, snail or slugs may appear; however, the plant is more likely to develop root or stem rot because of overwatering or bud blast (loss of flower buds before flowering) because of exposure to low temperatures.
Is the Phalaenopsis Orchid Toxic for Pets?
No, phalaenopsis orchids are not toxic, so you can safely keep them in your home without precautions.
What is the Lifespan of Phalaenopsis Orchids?
Technically, these plants can live indefinitely if all their conditions are met, however, most guides agree that they usually last 10-15 years. Most have long-lasting blooms and some varieties have blooms that can last for as long as 6 months.
Phalaenopsis orchids are the easiest orchids to grow in your home, so it’s no wonder then that they’re so popular among indoor gardeners.
Once you understand the way these plants grow in nature and what these plants need, you can create a good environment for them in which they can bloom easily and live for decades.
As with most epiphytes, overwatering is the number one concern with these plants. Their roots require aeration as too much moisture will be their downfall.
Fast-draining soil, good temperature conditions and good light conditions are essential to ensure a healthy root system and blooming.