Phalaenopsis are popular and one of the fastest growers in the orchid family. They are happiest in the same conditions as people prefer.
Ideally minimum of 12 to 15 degrees at night up to 30 degrees during the day. Although they are warm growers if too warm they will stop growing, so if able to reduce the temperature by improving ventilation or misting would be ideal. Windows can greatly magnify heat in summer and be careful of cold draughts in winter.
Filtered light and not direct sun are ideal light conditions. The best location is near a window with a northerly aspect. Next best aspects are North-East, North–West, East and lastly West. An alternative is to grow the plant under fluorescent light. They should receive at least 12 hours of fluorescent light per day and be reasonably close to the light. Remember though - never direct sunlight.
Relative humidity during the daytime should be approximately 70% and at night about 50% because when night temperatures drops, the relative humidity will increase. The easiest way to provide adequate humidity at home is to fill a plastic tray with gravel or small rocks and keep a layer of water at the bottom of the tray. The pot should be packed on top of this making sure the pot does not come in contact with the water.
Good air movement will prevent fungus and spores from settling on the plant and will also prevent spotting on the flowers due to high humidity. Good cross ventilation is sufficient.
The successful growth of Phalaenopsis relies on keeping roots moist and the leaves dry. When watering, just water the pot and let the water drain into the saucer/tray. Avoid water entering the crown of the plant (the crown is the central point that the leaves grow from). Water in the morning to allow any water that is collected in the crown to evaporate. Remember to keep potting mix moist but not continually wet. In summer the plant may need to be watered 2-3 times per week and as little as once per week in winter.
Any soluble fertilizer is suitable as long as it is very dilute. It may be best to use a one-half recommended strength and not more often than every third watering. Alternatively weak watering once a week should be acceptable.
This usually only needs to be done when a plant has outgrown its pot or the potting mix has deteriorated. Use an orchid potting mix. The main requirement is a mix that is free draining and open, the reward of doing this correctly is a plant will be in flower for 3 months or more. The main flowering time is spring but large plants may flower more than once per year.
If the leaves go limp immediately cut off all blooms and spikes at the base.
When the flowers die, prune the flowering stalk back to the first node beneath the old flowers. A node is where two segments on the stem join where there is a slight bump. This encourages either further flowering from the stalk or the sprouting of a new stem. After a few seasons the stem can look unsightly in which case it can be cut back to the base.
For further information see www.orchidsocietywa.net.au
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