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Plant Life: Phalaenopsis Orchid

Plant Life: Phalaenopsis Orchid

| Rosie Jeffares

Here's a tip for a happy houseplant: think of where it's found in nature, then try to mimic those conditions.

Phalaenopsis orchids grow on branches of trees in tropical rainforests. Native to warmer climates than ours, they need protection from the cold.

In the wild, aerial roots, finger-like and visible at the base of the plant, secure the orchid to the host tree. As a houseplant, loose potting medium is worked around the roots to hold it upright in a pot. You'll still see plenty of roots above the soil. They absorb water and nitrogen from the air.

A highly coveted ornamental plant, the phalaenopsis orchid represents love, luxury, beauty and strength, and makes a lovely gift for any occasion.

Here’s our best advice for orchid care.

Orchids are happiest in indirect bright morning light. If possible try keeping yours in a room with an east-facing window. Orchids may not fair well in direct sun, so use a sheer curtain or have it on a table near the window.

You are more likely to kill your plant by overwatering than by underwatering! The trick is to water thoroughly, then let the plant dry out somewhat. Keep it evenly moist: not dry and not sopping wet.

The best way to water is at the kitchen sink. Pour on water so that it runs out the drainage holes. Let it get thoroughly moist.  Remember to let it fully drip dry before placing it back in its decorative pot.

We generally don’t recommend repotting your orchids. They will be happy for many years in the plastic growers pot, which offers the best drainage and breathability for its air roots.

Repotting can be traumatic for orchids so it’s best to find a fun decorative pot and place the plastic growers pot inside.

Replace stakes with interesting sticks - anything from a local birch or willow to exotic natraj or kiwi vine. Add a friend: an air plant makes a great orchid companion plant, and enjoys the same east light.

Post-bloom, continue to look after the plant and call yourself as ochidteer!

After flowering, trim the stalk down to the first or second node. Fertilize, water and care for the leaves. A good general rule is to use a balanced fertilizer (20-20-20), diluted to half strength or less and applied every other week. The plant will likely reward you with a new stalk and will set new buds after a few months.

When that happens, pat yourself on the back and perhaps try adding another orchid to your collection!

• Rosie, owner Quince Flowers

Florist Journal

Written By: Rosie Jeffares-Levitt

A collection of blog posts written by one of Toronto's top florists. With two on-going blog series, the first about flowers called Behind The Bloom & the second about plants called Plant Life.