As a plant geek I often field questions about orchids and plants in general. I actually enjoy this, since like most people I like to talk about the things I'm most passionate about. But it has occurred to me that people might appreciate and benefit from a series of plant care and techniques posts. This is the first of several I have planned. If you have requests, please let me know.
Basic Phalaenopsis care seemed like a great place to start since many people get a Phal as a first orchid. Most of the species and hybrids are adaptable and easy to grow in typical home conditions (although there are some species and some rare hybrids that have special needs, but these are also less commonly available).
• Light: An unobstructed East or West facing window is best. South facing with some midday shade or a sheer curtain is ok. Fluorescent lights (2-4 tubes, 8-12 inches from plant) may also be used.
• Water: More orchids are killed by too frequent watering than anything else; but don’t be afraid to water your plants. For Phalaenopsis hybrids, water when media is dry about 2 inches down—test with your finger. Water freely from the top of the media, letting pot drain. Do not leave sitting in water. They will need water once per week on average, adjusting up or down with seasonal changes in temperature and humidity.
• Feeding: Use a ½ to ¼ strength solution of balanced fertilizer about once per month.
• Temperature: Average house temperature is fine (65-85F).
• Other: Repotting is recommended every two years. Misting leaves is not recommended. I do not recommend pebble trays either. The plant will adjust to the humidity levels in your house.
Soon to follow: posts on repotting and mounting plants. Stay tuned! :)