We designate by the term Orchids near 26,000 species of plants distributed in more than 850 genres. That is to say if the family of Orchidaceae is huge. The needs, as well as the cultivation methods, therefore vary considerably from one orchid to another, these plants originating from very diverse regions of the world in terms of climate and soil, even if the majority of species are found in tropical areas. Orchid lovers who do not have much experience in the field can however have fun growing horticultural hybrids. For example, the best known genus is unquestionably Phalaenopsis. It has about sixty species and several thousand hybrids. Let’s see how to maintain this type ofmoth orchid.
Growing Orchid (Phalaenopsis)
The orchids of the genus Phalaenopsis, which is also referred to by this term, are epiphytic plants, that is to say that in nature they develop on other plants without drawing their food from their host. They are therefore not parasitic plants.
Phalaenopsis are greenhouse orchids that we can therefore raise like indoor plants. They need a temperature between 18 and 25°C during the day and 14 to 21°C at night. In summer, they even tolerate slightly higher daytime temperatures, up to 28°C. The light theirs is absolutely essential and she must be important. But the Phalaenopsis do not tolerate direct sun between late morning and mid-afternoon, that is to say during the hottest hours from May to September at least.
At home, we therefore install a Phalaenopsis preferably in the North, in front of a large glazed surface. Outside of the North orientation, the plant must be moved away from the window or bay window without depriving it of light. Indeed, the brightness must be consistent for the moth orchid to flower.
Maintenance of the Moth Orchid or Phalaenopsis
This magnificent plant is easy to maintainwhich is why it ranks among the orchids suitable for amateurs, even the most inexperienced.
Dust the leaves
It is necessary to clean the leaves of this plant with a microfiber cloth because it does not lint and is particularly soft. This is essential so that dust does not accumulate. In order to avoid damaging the leaves, they must be held from below during this beauty session.
The tutoring is almost unavoidable when the flower stalks begin to form because if they consist of many large flowers, they become heavy. They must therefore be maintained by inserting a stake into the substrate so that it is as close as possible to the stem. This must then be attached to the stake using a few not too tight ties.
But beware: the installation of the tutor is only possible when the buds have not yet hatched. Afterwards, it is too late to intervene, as this would reverse the position of the flowers that are already open and would undeniably cause them to wilt prematurely.
In nature, the Phalaenopsis collects rainwater through its aerial roots. It therefore does not need sustained watering. Moreover, he tends to withstand drought better than excess water which rots it. Cultivated at home, this orchid is satisfied with one irrigation per week. To do this, we wet the root ball well (the ideal is to use rainwater at room temperature or, failing that, non-calcareous water) then let all the water drain off, for example leaving the pot in leverage. Water should never be left at the bottom of the cache-pot.
The maid watering frequency of a Phalaenopsis is twice a week if the room temperature is around 25°C and only once a week if it is around 20°C.
You have to take care of never wet the collar and avoid water accumulating in the axils of the leaves as this causes serious rotting problems against which, unfortunately, there is not much that can be done to save an orchid.
Once every two weeks, care should be taken to provide your orchids with a perfectly balanced NPK type fertilizer, to be diluted in the irrigation water. We reduce the contributions in winter when the plant benefits from less luminosity.
And low nitrogen fertilizer is on the other hand preferable if the Phalaenopsis has trouble flowering. The contributions are then to be made between the end of June and the end of October.
You can find in some garden centers a foliar fertilizer for orchids. It sprays as is on the dusted leaves.
The Phalaenopsis thrives in a pot petitwhich includes several drainage holes as well as a raised bottom to avoid any risk of water retention harmful to the roots. Preferably choose a container transparent in order to be able to monitor the good state of health of the roots and that of the substrate.
It is advisable to carry out the repotting every 2 to 3 years or unconditionally if the plant is not centered in the pot and risks tipping over or when the substrate has suffered a degradation. We fill the new pot with a medium-grained substratespecially adapted to Phalaenopsis, which can contain for example:
- Of the pine bark,
- A little of sphaigne (Sphagnum),
- A tiny handful of peat,
- From expanded polystyrene in pieces.
The best time to repot the Phalaenopsis orchid is spring, although it can still be done during the summer, but always provided that the plant is neither in bud nor in flower.
Pests and diseases
What we can fear the most with orchids is the invasion of scale insects, whether scale insects or some mealybugs. These parasites settle on the back and axils of the leaves, on the stems, even on the flowers. It is absolutely necessary to eliminate them because without any intervention, the orchid will eventually die. We remove the mealybugs manually with a gauze or a cotton swab that we took care to soak withalcohol at 90. At the same time, you have to get a mealybug insecticide with which all parts of the affected plant are sprayed.
Apart from the scourge of mealybugs, Phalaenopsis are orchids that are not very susceptible to disease except for bacterial rot which attacks the stem as well as the collar. There is no solution to eradicate it. The plant is therefore doomed to rapid death.
Blooming Phalaenopsis (butterfly orchid)
The Phalaenopsis has leathery leaves and aerial fleshy roots. Every inflorescence counts between 5 and 12 flowers, sometimes more but it is quite rare, and is carried by a floral stem which emerges from the tuft of leaves. From the base of the stem to the tip of the inflorescence, the height can reach 70 cm. All colors are possible, from plain to two-tone, and the flowers can also be streaked or adorned with spots, sometimes seeming to have been decorated by hand by an artist. The lip has a different color than the other petals.
Orchids of this genus are frequently seen flowering in the spring, but there is no not really seasonal well marked in terms of flowering and the Phalaenopsis do not experience more of a period of vegetative rest. We can therefore see them bloom at any time of the year, for at least three months. This is a minimum because a flower stalk can last more than 7 to 8 months.
No sooner has it withered than the stem branches out to form new flowers or a new stem develops at the base of the plant to flower in turn. In some cases, you have to wait several months before you can admire new flowers. Anyway, for a Phalaenopsis to flower, all the conditions must really be met, and the plant must be perfectly healthy. You can give it a boost by giving it plenty of light in winter, fertilize regularly, banishing excess water and imposing temperature differences of at least 5 to 6°C between day and night for some time.
When the flowers of this orchid are wilted, it is not necessary to cut the stem contrary to what is recommended for most other species. In Phalaenopsis, from one or more nodes located on a stem that has already flowered, new flower stalks can develop. We can therefore content ourselves with cut the stem under the withered flowers, at the level of the second or third node (we count from the base of the stem). Sometimes it only takes a few weeks to see the orchid bloom again. Experts advise to cut only dry stemsand those which have already flowered twice in succession.