B A S I C O R C H I D   C U L T U R E

PHALAENOPSIS
CAPITAL CITY ORCHID SOCIETY` 
MEMBER CONTRIBUTION

The host society of this site, the Capital City Orchid Society hosts an Early Forum with a focus on basic orchid culture for new growers in particular.  This forum is usually hosted by experienced growers within the Society.

At a recent meeting,  Vice President   Merle Stevenson spoke on her experience with phalaenopsis orchids, and her talk notes are published below.  We hope these may be of interest  and assistance to other growers of these spectacular plants.

GROWING PHALAENOPSIS ORCHIDS

LIGHT & HEAT

The first requirement is a warm room with a lot of light with windows facing north-east to north-west. I have a night store heater which is on from Easter to September with the temperature set at 22 degrees Celsius. A 40watt light is on above the orchids in the evening. The room gets natural light from 8 o'clock in the morning until 4 o'clock in the evening. On calm days the window near by is open. The sun only reaches the leaves in the wintertime, when it is not so intense. During the summer the sun is high enough in the sky not to stream in the windows during the heat of the day and damage the leaves. Phalaenopsis have very thick lushes green leaves, which can heat up very quickly and suffer heat damage. The leaf first turns white and then turns black. Not a pretty sight but it does not kill your plant!


Photo/grower Merle Stevenson

WATERING, BARK MIX & FERTILISER

Watering will depend on the bark mix you have the plants in. For full grown plants I use the largest bark I can get my hands on. I have used decorator bark. If this is used it needs to be well soaked before use with all the rubbish and small bits removed. At present I am buying Norm Porters Cattleya bark mix. The plants sit in a deep tray with pebbles. When the pebbles have dried out it is time to water again. This for me is generally once a week. The plant gets taken to the sink and watered thoroughly, leaves as well, under the tap with tepid water. I then feed with Watkins Bounty fertiliser. A capful in a two-litre bottle of preferably warm water. This gets splashed over the bark and the bottom of the leaves. Be careful to tip out any water that remains in the leaf base as this could develop rot. The leaves do like to have water. There will be quite a bit of water left in the trays after this procedure. This water is required to create humidity. The more plants the better the humidity. The leaves should look dark green and lush.

FLOWERING.

Spikes can appear at any time of the year. Most of mine come into spike during the winter months and flower around November, December and January. I usually have one plant flowering almost all year round. It takes about three months for the spike to grow and develop into flowers. I prefer to cut the spike off completely after its first main flowering, which lasts about three months. However, you can leave the spike on and it will still continue flowering but the stem gets very ungainly looking and the flowers get smaller. You can also cut off the spike leaving two nodes on the stem. Generally, if the plant is healthy it will shoot another spike from this stem. (This is for those afraid it will not flower again). I am a firm believer in the plant requiring a rest period to build up strength for the next flowering season. This I feel is why I generally get a better spike of flowers each year. If the plant is small I would not leave the flowers on the plant. After all the flowers have opened up remove the stem. I left one on a recent purchase and the plant has gone into rapid decline when it was quite healthy prior to flowering.

Phalaenopsis (Zuma Sonnet x Fifi)
Photo/grower Merle Stevenson

ROOTS

The roots should look thick and fleshy. During the winter they don't grow a lot but as the daytime temperatures increase and the room gets hotter you will see the green tips growing. They like fresh air but generally don't like cold draughts. Some of the roots are aerial and some like and need to be in the bark to anchor the plant.

REPOTTING

I only repot if the plant looks like it has a problem or it is growing out of the pot. I prefer to do it in summer time but did repot a large plant last winter and it flowered again quite soon but was not quite as good as the previous flowering.

Best wishes with your Phali growing. Hope your plants flower and give you as much pleasure as mine do.

16 October 1998


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I hope that you find the information in this site useful 

If you wish you may forward comments etc. to me 
    tomnz@ihug.co.nz 
 

 

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Site established 9th May 1998