Brooklyn Orchids

My Updated Orchid Setup

Last week I made a few changes to the orchid setup in my apartment. I did some reading up on Phalaenopsis orchids and determined that mine might be getting too much light in my very bright southern-facing windows. A couple of them have a red tinge around the edge of the leaves, which is a sign of too much light. And as I recently posted, a couple of my Phals are in pretty bad shape.

I decided to do a little rearranging and see whether the altered light source helps at all. According to some orchid experts, eastern exposure is acceptable for Phals. I don’t have a straight up eastern-facing window, but the northern-facing window at the front of my apartment is actually a bay window that gets some pretty good light from the east in the morning. So I moved four of my Phals to my desk in the front room:

Eastern exposure phals

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More Sad Orchids in Need of Help

I have a couple more Phals that are not looking very happy, so in another rescue attempt I repotted them this morning.

But before I tell you about those two orchids, I want to show you a photo of the tiny root nubbin that I discovered on my recovering Phal that I wrote about yesterday. I would have posted the photo yesterday, but to be honest I didn’t want to do an import of just one photo to my computer. Anyway, have a look:

Orchid root growth

I’m not sure what that brown speckling is on the base of the crown but it’s been there for quite awhile and hasn’t spread, so I’m guessing it’s not a problem. But, let’s forget about that and talk about the more important element. Look at the new root growth! I’m excited because this poor orchid has been looking really sad for some time, probably at least three or four months now.

So. Being that this orchid is finally starting to turn around after I repotted it in spaghnum moss (not packed too tightly), I decided it was time to switch out the potting medium for my other two sad orchids.

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Update on Phal Rescue Attempt

Remember awhile back when I tried the ‘sphag-n-bag’ method of rescuing a Phalaenopsis orchid, but aborted the effort after a couple of days? After I had removed the orchid from the bag, I potted it in a terracotta pot with sphagnum moss. Based on the advice I got on the Orchid Board, I then decided that the orchid would be better off potted in something that would get better air flow, so I bought a black plastic net pot like this:

The pot only cost me $.80 at a local gardening supply store. Win!

I took the risk of repotting the poor plant yet again (I had been effing with it a lot lately) and placed it into the net pot with moist sphagnum moss. It’s been doing ok like this for the past few weeks – at least, no turn for the worse – and just the other day I inspected it to see if there was any new root growth. Lo and behold, I found a tiny green nubbin at the base of the crown, so it appears that a new root is growing! I may have saved this poor sad plant after all.

I hope I haven’t jinxed the orchid’s health by posting about it just now. More updates to come, whether good or bad.

How to Make a Humidity Tray

Orchid Humidity Tray
Photo credit: beautifulorchids.com

I went out of town for five days this past week to visit my sister and nieces in Austin, so I had to abandon my orchids for the first time in awhile. Because I’ve gotten used to checking on them daily, leaving them made me a little nervous. I wanted to make sure my orchids didn’t dry out too badly; a bunch of them have aerial roots that I mist about once a day. What many orchid growers recommend if your home is on the dry side are humidity trays. A humidity tray is a shallow dish lined with stones or pebbles and filled with water almost to the top of the stones; the plant sits ON TOP OF the stones and reaps the benefit of the water as it evaporates.  You just have to make sure that the plant is not sitting IN the water – something that can lead to root rot. More details on humidity trays can be found here.

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How to Water a Phalaenopsis Orchid


Phalaenopsis orchid in bloomNOTE: I recommend reading my updated post about how to water orchids. 

Phalaenopsis orchids are the most readily available orchids and tend to be an orchid newbie’s first; however, many of these beauties don’t come with instructions. Proper watering is key to maintaining a healthy and happy orchid plant, so I’m here to offer up some advice on how to water a Phalaenopsis orchid.

First, let me explain the issues with improper watering. When an orchid is over-watered its roots will rot, which prevents the orchid from absorbing water and nutrients; as a result, the plant will die a lot sooner than you’d like. Conversely, under-watering dehydrates the plant and slows its growth, meaning the plant won’t offer up as many of those beautiful blooms. And the blooms are why we buy orchids, right?!

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New Orchids: To Repot or Not? That is the Question

Most orchid nerds will tell you that you should repot any brand new orchid almost as soon as you bring it home. This is recommended so that you can take a good look at the orchid’s root system and cut away any rotten roots (see my post on identifying healthy vs. unhealthy roots). Conversely, you may find a really nice set of roots like these:

Healthy Phalaenopsis orchid roots
Photo credit: velvetdahlia, Flickr

You may have also heard not to repot an orchid while it’s in bloom. So, what exactly are you supposed to do with these two conflicting pieces of advice when you bring home a new orchid that is in bloom, like my latest orchid purchase?

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