Updated: Nov 1, 2021
So to keep things simple for our first blog entry today, I wanted to drop a few helpful tips relating to Phalaenopsis orchid care. Phalaenopsis or “moth” orchids are the most common orchids you might see at grocery, drug, or home improvement stores and also happen to be the most common orchid sold at Splash! The tips below are what I have found to be true in my personal experience, in my particular environment in the Southeast region of the United States. However, understanding the general principles of your orchids’ likes and dislikes and the why behind its preferences gives you a home base of care to reference if you (and your orchid) change environments or if you decide to expand your orchid collection to other types in the future :) As a friend I met at an orchid nursery told me, “once hooked on orchids, there is no cure” and that was certainly true in my case... you might just find it to be true for you too.
1. Ok first things first, and this is first for a reason... NEVER ICE YOUR ORCHIDS. Ice can burn your precious roots and won‘t melt into a substantial amount of moisture to keep your orchid healthy anyway. In the same vein, a “shot glass of water per week” is also insufficient to properly hydrate your orchid. These are fun marketing tactics that oversimplify for the sake of being cute and catchy. This also has the added bonus (benefiting the company only) of selling more orchids as you will have to go buy another one when you inevitably kill your poor plant off in a matter of weeks.
2. Orchids LOVE water. And that goes for humidity too. It is actually very difficult to overwater your orchid IF they are potted in the right medium. Many orchids from retail stores are sold potted in moss or tightly packed soils that hold water for too long which leads to suffocating the roots. This will cause the root rot issue that is so commonly the death of orchids, but it is actually due to the potting medium NOT the amount of water used. I personally soak my orchids for 15+ minutes weekly and do not experience root decay after repotting them in chunky, airy, well-draining, non-absorptive medium. Any orchids purchased from Splash are potted in such proper mediums and will be happiest watered weekly to twice weekly depending on humidity and the time of year.
*SIDE NOTE: When in bloom, orchids like more water than when in the growth phase after blooms have dropped.*
3. Orchids LOVE air and circulating air. Phalaenopsis orchids are actually epiphytic meaning that in the wild, they grow and wrap their roots on and around rocks, tree trunks, or other plants to support themselves as opposed to rooting themselves into the earth. This makes for an air and circulation loving plant and why they have such hardy, rope-like green roots! Chunky potting mediums that allow air to keep moving around the roots therefore suit these plants best. If you have a room near (not directly under blasting a blizzard on your poor plant) an air vent or with a table fan or ceiling fan, your orchid will enjoy the breeze :)
4. Orchids LOVE light. This can be a bit of an experiment to find the perfect place for your orchid to live specific to your home. East/West facing windows are often advised, or within 6-12 feet of a window, but the way I’ve understood it best is BRIGHT but INDIRECT light. If you notice your orchid getting a bit droopy, if the leaves are warm or hot to the touch, or the latest and most obvious sign- yellowing, brown, or burned holes in the healthy/newer leaves (not older yellowing leaves which is common and not a sign of illness). A sheer curtain is also commonly recommended to diffuse some of the more direct rays throughout the day.
*SIDE NOTE: As with many plants, morning sun is the best kind of sun for orchids. The later day sun can get very intense, but being sure to keep your orchid in a location where it can best enjoy the cool happy morning sun is a great way to keep it thriving and living it’s best life.*
5. When their flowers drop, your orchid is NOT DEAD. If the stem (flower spike) that held the blooms turns yellow or even brown, your orchid is NOT DEAD. Most phalenopsis bloom once a year, for a few weeks to a few months. When the flowers drop they begin the “growth” phase of their annual cycle where you can lessen their watering cycle by half or less and you will notice root lengthening, new roots, and new leaves and leaf growth. If your original flower stem remains green, you can keep it as is- some claim you will get a higher yield of blooms at the next flower season when you leave the stem intact. If your stem turns yellow or brown, it is a good idea to cut the stem (spike) all the way down to the base of the plant as it will no longer flower and only take nutrients away from the roots and leaves.
So, those are just a few basic tips to get you started on your way to becoming a full blown orchid addict like all the coolest people are :) I will be adding more blog posts diving deeper into these topics as often as I can, however there are some excellent resources and communities online that really turned up the heat on my fascination with orchids and gave me real confidence in my ability to keep these little beauties thriving!
These two in particular are absolute plethoras of knowledge and content and just about as expert as it gets, while staying approachable and easy to digest for beginners and or anyone who doesn’t have a PhD in horticulture or botany:
Here but not on instagram and excellent website at https://herebutnot.com
Miss Orchid Girl on Youtube and Instagram
Love you guys! Hope this helps and Splash can’t wait to be a part of your orchid hobby/addiction/obsession/journey!