Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens

Phalaenopis Orchids

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Hey All – Just wanted to share this great article from our View editor, Pat McGivern.  Enjoy and have a great Thursday!

See you in the gardens,



Remember the adage, “be careful what you wish for?”  Twenty years ago I expressed that I wanted to have finches to enjoy when I retired.  My very next birthday I was gifted with finches, to feed and clean while I was working full time and running a grade-schooler to daily activities.  I tried not to express further retirement wishes aloud, but in 2010 I made a better mistake of blurting out that raising orchids was on my retirement bucket list.  You guessed it.  Although I am not yet retired, within a month my son brought over two half-price Walmart orchids for me to enjoy.  These $7.50 beauties have required very little care and have re-bloomed each year.  From first open bloom until the last, the blooms lasted over six months in 2011!  There are four 2012 blooms open now on the stalk.

Phalaenopis is an orchid genus of approximately 60 species.  Phalaena was the name given by Linnaeus to a group of large moths.  The flowers of some phalaenopis orchids are believed to resemble moths in flight.  Thus the species are sometimes called moth orchids.  They are native throughout southeast Asia from the Himalayan Mountains to the Philippines and northern Australia.  In nature the plants are epiphytes, growing non-parasitically on other plants or objects.  They have a monopodial (growing upward from a single point) growth habit adding leaves to the apex each year, and their inflorescence (cluster of flowers arranged on a single stem) comes up between the leaves.

These plants should be kept in temperatures of over 60 degrees at night, and a range from 70 to 80 degrees in the day.  They do not require too much light, and east windowsills are recommended.  Mine live in a north bay window

most of the year, getting a bit of early east light and a bit of late west light, although I do place them in a south window December through February.  Water plants in the morning whenever the orchid bark or mix is dry, and allow water to run through the pot and dump any standing water.  Orchid foods are available and recommended.  My plants have done fine on light regular feedings of the same fertilizer all my houseplants receive.  Higher humidities are ideal, but plants can adapt to lower humidities if regularly watered.  In short, not the difficult houseplant that I expected, but a forgiving and easy to raise addition to your home.  Give them a try!

For more detailed information on raising and caring for these orchids in your home see:  http://www.orchidweb.com/phalcare.aspx

One thing I learned in researching this article is that after the plant has finished flowering the first time, to cut the stem above the node where the first flower bloomed, as a new flower stem may emerge.  With proper care, the plants may bloom more than the once per year that I thought was wonderful enough!


Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

March 1, 2012 at 6:44 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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