The orchid plant has been around for a very long time. In fact it was one of the very first plants to evolve. Therefore it is not surprising that there are so many species around. And therein lies the problem when it comes to knowing how to care for orchids. You can follow general advice but as that well known saying goes “the devil is in the detail”.
So here we are going to only look at the care of the one species of orchid. That plant is the Phalaenopsis, also known as the Moth Orchid. It is one of the most popular varieties to grow as it is very tolerant of centrally heated homes.
The Phalaenopsis originates from Thailand and Japan. It likes warm temperatures so you must be able to provide temperatures around 65F during the winter months and 75 to 80F in summer time. Do not let night time temperature drop below 60F.
The orchid likes humidity in the range of 50 to 70%. Using a hand spray, preferably filled with rain water is a simple yet practical option. Or, in summer you could stand your plant pot on a bowl of wet pebbles but never let the bottom of the pot touch the water. Always spray in the morning so that water evaporates before nightfall. Allowing water to rest overnight in the centre of the plant is very high risk. Rot will quickly set in.
Light is vital to the health of the Phalaenopsis plant but you must shield it from direct sunlight or you risk scorching.
Good air circulation is essential. A ceiling fan on low is ideal.
The orchid will need watering on average every 4 to 6 days. Where possible use rain water. Early morning is the best time to water the plant. Do not over-water.
Regularly feed your Phalaenopsis with a specialist orchid fertilizer.
Re-potting will be necessary on average once per year. Spring is the best time for this task. Make sure the pot has good drainage and use either New Zealand sphagnum moss or a fine to medium orchid bark mix.
– Steve Crane
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