i just bought a phalaenopsis orchid

keenajApril 13, 2013

This is my first orchid is there any advice that anyone can give me to keep it alive they seem like very fragile flowers so i was wondering about sunlight repotting, fertilizing, and how often do I water it. It's not a huge orchid I didn't want to go that far until I knew that I could keep this one alive. Any help would be appreciated.

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

To locate such info, all you need do is open your preferred search engine. the type "grow phalaenopsis indoors" (but omit the quote marks) as the search phrase. Next hit the Enter key

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 12:28PM
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Gosh Jean,..

Search engines just aren't that much fun to have a conversation with though!

Hopefully this thread will become a little more active in the very near future,Keenaj. A chat about phals would be pretty cool,and even though there is an orchid forum here at good ole gardenweb,this place is as good as any to get one going.

I can tell you that they are "epiphytes",which is to say that in their native envioronment they typically grow in a tree and not in the ground. Plants that are epiphytes require a real chunky free breathing medium to grow in if you intend to keep them alive very long. You likely have noticed that your phal is in what looks like something made mostly of slightly crunched up bark. This is to trick it into believing that it is in fact on a tree. Personally I don't know a heck of a lot about orchids and how best to keep them,but I'm sure someone else will chime in soon enough.

Hang in there! :)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 4:45PM
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The Ficus Wrangler

Hi Keenaj,
Congrats on your new orchid. You have picked a great one to start with - the phalaenopsis, far from being fragile, is one of the toughest plants around, as long as you accomplish one simple rule: don't rot the roots. Other ways to say the same thing are, don't let the roots stay wet, make sure the roots drain completely after watering, and let the roots breathe.

Most phals that are commonly sold today are grown in a sphagnum potting medium. This works for the rigidly controlled environment of a greenhouse, but if you want an orchid at home that will live, grow and flower for many years, and its in the sphagnum when you buy it,you should repot it right away into a bark medium formulated for orchids, or one of the "gritty" mixes that people at GW often use. Some people put them into baskets, or special terra cotta pots with openings on the sides; the important thing is quick drainage and air movement.

The next big consideration is light. They need to be shaded from the sun, medium light is good, and some people have success with them under electric light.

You don't want to let them dry out at all, because they have little water storage capability, neither do you want the roots to sit in water. I have several in wooden slat baskets, outdoors spring through fall, and I drench them with the hose every morning unless it's raining. In the winter I have them in my sunroom, and I put them in the sink a couple times a week for a good water, and mist them a couple of times a day otherwise.

Most people like to fertilize them weekly with a diluted fertilizer. I like to use one with a 3:1:2 ratio.

Orchids are a wonderful hobby - don't be afraid of them.
There are some that require very special environments, but there are also many that grow happily in our homes right beside us.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 10:25PM
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Thanks so much theficuswrangler that was so helpful i bought mine at lowes a few days ago for believe it or not $3 because it was starting to die, so i bought some miracle gro for orchids and also the fertilizer sticks. I repotted it in some fresh dirt and gave it a little fertilizer and it's looking a little better. I have it sitting under a lamp near my front door so it gets a little light during the day but not so much that it burns it.

I do appreciate the info about spraying it with water a few times a day i have a water bottle that i keep filled for another plant so I'll make sure to give if a little Spritz twice a day. I also keep a water meter so that i can check my plants to see how wet they are so I'll pay a little extra attention to this one.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 12:06AM
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auron22(6b OH)

Wish I was on yesterday to provide input :(

Were the roots brown and mushy? Did you see some parts slightly broken with a tiny string connecting them? Roots like that are rotted and should be cut off when repotting. Healthy roots are typically fleshy, firm and white/green. If it is brown but still firm it is probably still good.

Terra cotta was a good choice, but you will have to keep an eye on the soil more often because it will dry out quicker. All of my orchids are in terra cotta with miracle gro orchid soil (regular, not course). I would get those really cheap clear plastic saucers if you have not already and make sure no water is left in it after watering so the bottom will not still be too wet even though the rest is getting too dry.

I would hold off on fertilizing, since your orchid was just repotted and not actively growing either (I assume?). I think some on orchid forum would suggest not to fertilize at all during bloom.

Also refrain from cutting off the entire spike once the blooms are spent. Here is a link that will provide some orchid care info in case I missed anything.

Here is a link that might be useful: Phalaenopsis orchid care

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 9:19AM
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The Ficus Wrangler

Hi y'all - Not familiar with orchid soil, I like to put mine into bark or some other coarse mix (unless it's a terrestrial orchid, of course), and I don't have an extensive orchid collection. In my experience, orchid roots tend to rot - as Auron described - if they're not in a coarse and free-draining medium, as opposed to soil.

The watering is the crucial thing, not the misting. Getting a good soak in the sink 2 or 3 times a week is important, but that's for an orchid in bark. Potted in soil, that might be different, you might need to soak only once a week or even less. I'd think that before watering again, maybe you'd want the soil to aerate to the point where some soil pinched between your fingers would barely hold together. Perhaps Auron could advise.

I've never liked fertilizer sticks. I feel that there's too much fertilizer in one spot, rather than dispersed through the soil mass. Liquid fertilizer, or dry fertilizer that's been mixed in water, can be diluted to a safe level and used every week, with time off as advised in the literature.

The light sounds adequate. Be aware that when the last flower drops off, you'll probably have a year to wait before the plant flowers again.

Moisture meters. It's great that you understand the necessity of finding out the moisture level in the soil of your plants, but do you understand the shortcomings of moisture meters, and also other ways to access moisture levels? Some videos that deal with these subjects are at
Bona Fortuna to you.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 11:13PM
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