Beginner Tips on How to Grow Phalaenopsis Orchids

Photo credit: melop, Flickr

So you just brought home your first orchid – or possibly even more intimidating, you were given an orchid as a gift. Now what??

Many people throw out their orchid once the blooms fall off because they think it’s dying. Not so! What you should remember is that an orchid is a plant that, if cared for properly, can bloom again and again, year after year. How do you keep your phalaenopsis orchid (aka moth orchid) happy and healthy so that it will bloom again in the future? Here are a few key tips that will help you maintain your orchid’s health:

DON’T OVER-WATER

Over-watering is probably the easiest way to kill an orchid plant; a good guideline is to water no more than once every 7 to 10 days. I’ve written a separate post on how to water a phalaenopsis orchid, so be sure to read it over for more detailed information.

LET THE RIGHT LIGHT IN

Phalaenopsis orchids need bright, indirect sunlight; southern or eastern exposure is best. Orchid foliage can sunburn if it receives too much direct light. Sunburn will appear as black splotches on the leaves so if you see this, you should move the plant farther away from the window. If your house has really strong southern exposure, you may want to try hanging a light-colored or lacy curtain that filters the sunlight a bit.

TEMPERATURE CONTROL

Unless you maintain extreme temperatures at home, your orchid should be fine as is. Phalaenopsis orchids need temperatures around 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and a minimum of 60 to 65 degrees at night.

MODERATE HUMIDITY AT HOME

Phals flourish best in a home with humidity around 55 to 75%. If your home is very dry, you can place your orchid on a humidity tray to help keep the air around the plant moist. For more information on humidity trays, check out my post on how to make your own.

NOURISH WITH FERTILIZER

Phalaenopsis orchids should be fed about once a month to help encourage growing and blooming. Most garden centers and even big box home stores like Home Depot or Lowes carry orchid fertilizer. Schultz offers a good, readily available fertilizer that for feeding phals as well as other types of orchids. Just remember that when you fertilize your orchid, you need to water it with plain tap water first, then pour the fertilizer mix into the pot. Pouring the fertilizer mix directly onto a dry orchid can damage the roots.

If you follow these basic tips you should be able to keep an orchid plant around for some time — maybe even years. Orchid growing at home doesn’t have to be complicated or scary!

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  2. Great article and tips! I know I have to look for some orchid fertilizer soon. I’m looking forward to checking out the Montreal Botanical Gardens soon and getting to see the type of orchids they have growing there – saw some beautiful ones in Washington, DC last June – breath taking – but not ones we can grow here at home of course – but still beautiful to look at and go …. “awe”.

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  4. I love orchids but couldn’t effort to buy until today. Bought one after long inspection. I should’ve read ur blog before buying :( .However ur tips are very helpful and thanks for sharing. Will follow ur suggestion on how to water orchids.

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  9. Hi! I’ve enjoyed reading your blogs and am learning so much about caring for orchids. I’ve had my orchid for three weeks and watered it once thus far. As I was going to water it this morning, I noticed a leave is starting to yellow, has a dark spot in the yellow part and is breaking off. Did I over water it or do I need to treat it for fungal infection? Thank you so much for any advise.

    • Hi Elizabeth, a dark spot could potentially be sunburn. Is your orchid getting bright, direct sunlight? If so, move it somewhere where it gets bright but indirect light. If it’s not getting too much light, it could be a fungal infection. I haven’t really had any experience with treating those so I’d recommend taking some photos and asking over on the OrchidBoard.com forum. There are some incredibly knowledgeable folks over there. Best of luck!

  10. if my new orchid has recently shed its beautiful flowers–should i just leave in the sunny area or put in a less sunny area???
    if the flowers just feel off-how long before it flowers again??? 6 months??

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