Phalaenopsis Orchid Care for Beginners

Learn how to grow orchids — it’s not as hard as you may think. Phalaenopsis orchids are one of the easiest types to care for in the home or office.

Orchids are one of the most misunderstood house plants. These beauties have a reputation for being expensive, finicky, and delicate; there is a belief that orchids are neither worth the money nor the effort. However, some types of orchids, such as the phalaenopsis orchid (aka moth orchid), are actually quite easy to care for in the home. Phalaenopsis orchids are also one of the most affordable orchids out there and are readily available in garden centers, grocery stores, and big box home stores such as Home Depot or Lowes. With some simple guidance, anyone can learn how to grow a phalaenopsis orchid at home or in the office.

Choosing a Healthy Orchid

Many stores offer a dazzling array of orchids to choose from and it’s easy for an orchid beginner – or savvy expert, for that matter – to succumb to the allure and take home the one that is most eye-catching. This method of selecting an orchid offers immediate gratification but the buyer may discover later that the orchid is not in good shape.

To ensure that the orchid is in reasonably healthy condition, there are a few characteristics to look for:

Firm, grassy green leaves. Yellow, brown, limp, or very dark green leaves indicate an unhealthy plant.

If you can see roots, look for those that are silvery-green or greenish-yellow in color. Brown, twig-like or yellow mushy-looking roots are a sign of root rot.

A green stem with flowers in bloom or several plump buds at the tips. Shriveled buds are not a good sign.

Selecting an orchid based on the traits listed above will increase the odds of growing success.

Phalaenopsis Orchid Care

The orchid has arrived in its new home. Now what?

There are five important elements that an orchid depends on for good health: water, light, temperature, humidity, and nutrition. Each orchid species has its own specific combination of favorable environmental conditions and the phalaenopsis is no exception. Fortunately for orchid lovers, many homes already contain ideal phalaenopsis orchid conditions, which is why they are one of the easiest to grow.

Water: A thorough soaking of lukewarm water from the tap every 7 to 10 days is usually sufficient for phalaenopsis orchids. The vital thing for orchid growers to keep in mind is not to over-water. Over-watering very often results in rotten roots, which will kill the plant quickly. A good video on how to water a phalaenopsis video can be found here.

Light: Phalaenopsis orchids need bright, indirect sunlight; southern or eastern exposure is best. Southern-facing windows can be too bright, so a light-colored window shade can help filter the direct sun from your plant.

Temperature: Many homes tend to have phalaenopsis-ready temperatures. These orchids need temperatures of 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and a minimum of 60 to 65 degrees at night.

Humidity: Phalaenopsis do well in homes with a humidity level of 50 to 75 percent. Owners with dry homes can increase the humidity level around the orchid plant by setting the pot on a pebble or stone-filled tray with water poured almost to the top of the rocks. As the water evaporates it creases a more humid environment directly around the plant. GrowingWisdom.com offers a video about humidity trays.

Nutrition: Fertilize the orchid plant once per month with a mixture containing nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K). Making sure an orchid receives nourishment will encourage it to grow and bloom. Orchid fertilizers can be found in most garden centers, flower shops, big box home stores, and online. It is important to run unfertilized water through the pot before pouring in the fertilizer; pouring fertilizer onto dry roots can cause damage.

Orchid Care is All About Balance

The main things to remember when it comes to phalaenopsis orchid care are to select an orchid plant in good shape, and to maintain a balanced environment. When there isn’t too much or too little of any of the five elements listed above, an orchid is likely to live a long and happy life in the home or office.

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