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Orchids are as easy as A - B - C!
Always wait until the bark or moss is completely dry before watering.
Be sure to keep your orchid out of direct sunlight.
Confidence that you will be succesfull! orchids are easy to care for.
Phalaenopsis orchids, also referred to as moth orchids, are the most popular orchid for growing inside the home. They usually bloom in the late winter into the spring. The inflorescence on many hybrids can be coaxed to rebloom after the initial flowering is complete. As with all plants, the ideal combination of light, water, humidity, nutrients and potting media is key in successfully caring for the Phalaenopsis orchid.  

phaleanopsis.jpgAll of these factors work together to help the plant thrive and generously bloom. It is important to remember that orchids, like us, have changing needs depending on the environment.  For example, during the summer they will need more water than during the winter months.  During the growing season, they will need more nutrients than when they are dormant.

Light

Light is one of the key elements in the culture of any plant.  This is no different in the culture of orchids. If the plant gets too little light it will not bloom. Phalaenopsis orchids can survive in low light situations as well as moderate light situations.  Direct sunlight is a definite no-no for these plants. If exposed to direct sunlight their leaves will suffer sunburn and become unsightly with black splotches. Remember, the larger the leaf of an orchid variety, the less lights it needs.

Place the orchid in an east or (shaded) west facing window. Make sure that the plant is about 3 feet away from the glass.  You may also place the plant in a shaded south facing window. In northern climates, full southern exposure is advisable.

If the foliage on the plant is dark green and limp, it is an indication the plant needs more light. Yellowish leaves indicate the plant is getting too much light.Ideally, the foliage should be a bright olive green.

Temperature

Orchids need a temperature variation of about 15-20 degrees between day and night temperatures. Ideally, they like night time temperatures to be between 60-65 F. During the day they like it to be between 70-85 F.
Phalaenopsis’ do not mind it too much if the temperatures get down into the mid 50’s. As a matter of fact, several days of these low temperatures in the fall help the plant initiate flower spikes. Phalaenopsis’ also can withstand a couple of days of 90-95 F temperature.  

It is important to remember that if the temperatures do get high you should increase the humidity, water and air circulation around the plant. Try to avoid temperature fluctuations as this may cause closed buds to drop.

Water

This element is the one that causes the most confusion among orchid lovers. Overwatering is the number one killer of orchids.  Phalaenopsis orchids should be watered only when the potting media has almost completely dried out. When watering them, make sure this is done thoroughly. Frequency of watering depends on the climate and potting medium.  During the winter months, the plant can be watered about once a week. During the summer months it should be watered about twice a week. These general guidelines should be used in conjunction with the individual factors each home environment provides. We use sphagnum moss to pot our orchids; this material retains water much better than the standard orchid bark therefore requiring less frequent watering.

The quality of the water used is also of some importance.  Orchids prefer rainwater; they really do not like water that has a lot of chemicals, such as chlorine. If your water is heavily treated, you might consider buying some distilled or purified water, although catching your own rainwater can be fun and will give you a great sense of satisfaction!

Water the plant early in the day to prevent moisture from settling on the plant over night. This will lead to root rot, crown rot and other diseases.

Furniture friendly pots, those without drainage, are designed to protect your furniture from moisture and soil. However, these pots require close monitoring when it comes to watering your orchid.  A simple and effective approach is to “water” your plant by placing about 5 ice cubes on the bark about once a week.

Humidity

Phalaenopsis orchids need 50% to 80% humidity. This element works in conjunction with the other care elements mentioned.  If the temperature is hot and dry, you might need to place the orchids on a tray with gravel that has water on the bottom.  Never let the pots sit in water as this will cause root rot. On days of high humidity make sure there is good air circulation around your plants.

Feeding

These orchids flower best and are at their healthiest when fertilized on a regular basis. Use a well balanced formulation such as 10-10-10 or a ratio that is similar. These numbers correspond to the ratio of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) in the fertilizer. These elements are responsible for vegetative growth, flower development and flower production, respectively.

It is common practice (and a good one) to fertilize your plants on a weekly basis using the fertilizer at one quarter of the recommended strength.  In the winter you may do the same twice a month. When flowering is desired, use a fertilizer with higher phosphorus content.

Repotting

Phalaenopsis’ should be repotted every 18-24 months. It all depends on how much the growing media has decomposed. It is recommended that they are repotted after the spring flowing is completed. You may use orchid bark specifically formulated for phalaenopsis’, sphagnum moss, coconut husk or any combination of the above. The pot should only be slightly larger than the root mass. If the pot is too large, the plant will concentrate on growing roots and foliage instead of flowering. When transferring the plant, be very careful not to damage any part of the plant, especially the delicate new roots.

To repot, remove the old medium from the roots, trim soft, rotted roots. Spread the remaining roots over a couple of cups of medium in the bottom of a new pot. Fill the rest of the pot with medium, anchoring the plant with orchid pins if necessary. Do not cover the joint of the plant and the roots with bark.
 
Costa Farms is the largest producer of indoor plants in North America and the second largest in the world. Founded in 1961 by Jose Costa, the third-generation family business specializes in foliage and bedding plants with operations domestically in South Florida, North Carolina, and abroad in the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica. Visit: www.costafarms.com.

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