Monday, August 8, 2016 at 5:22 AM
It has long been a myth that orchids are difficult to grow and need expert care if you want them to bloom. Orchids aren't difficult, they are just a little bit different than your other green plants. The new varieties of orchids, especially the phalaenopsis, are some of the easiest houseplants to care for and will reward you with blossoms throughout the year. Each individual blossom may last up to three months and the plant will often send up another spike that will start blooming before the last blossom on the previous spike has faded.
Phalaenopsis are commonly called moth orchids for their gently arching, flowering stems with flat flowers that resemble moths in flight. They come in many varieties and colors but are most often grown in delicate pastel shades. Phalaenopsis orchids are easy to grow because they enjoy the same temperatures we do – above 60º F at night and a range of 70º F to 80º F during the day.
Phalaenopsis do well in Boulder in bright indirect light. An east window is usually ideal. A shaded southern or western window will also do, but northern usually isn't enough. Phalaenopsis leaves are broad and flat and they should be olive green. If they become much darker it is usually a sign that the plant is not getting enough light. Red tinged leaves mean the plant is getting too much light. If your plant doesn't re-bloom easily, you may need to increase the amount of light that it is receiving. If the buds drop on your plants before they open it might be due to fluctuating temperatures if the plant is too close to a window or windowsill that cools down significantly during the night.
Unlike most plants that are rooted in the ground, phalaenopsis are epiphytes in their native habitats where they grow attached to tree branches in diffused light. Their abundant roots that are exposed to the moist, humid air in those habitats are white or silvery. Since they are epiphytes, phalaenopsis should never be potted in soil. Growing mediums for these orchids usually include fir bark, coconut husk, tree fern fibers and perlite. When the potting medium begins to break down, usually in 18 to 24 months, your orchid will need to be repotted. When that occurs, bring in your plants and Sharon, Trevor, Connie, Patty or Heide will be happy to help you repot them in the correct medium.
Please see our orchid section under the plant tab for more information and pictures of orchids that we carry.