Phalaenopsis orchid care: how to look after orchids

Phalaenopsis Orchids might have a complicated name but they are easy to look after! By following just a few simple rules they’ll flower beautifully for up to 6 months.

This elegant plant makes a gorgeous addition to any home or office, with its long stems, dainty wing-like flowers and deep green foliage. Due to their long-lasting nature Phalaenopsis Orchids are a very popular present. Fresh cut flowers from Fig & Bloom typically last up to a week, possibly two weeks with Australian native flowers. If you want something that lasts longer then you can’t go past a graceful Phalaenopsis Orchid. Gift recipients can expect to enjoy this low maintenance plant for many months to come with only minimal maintenance. Of course, you might find you want one for yourself too!

Many of the florists in our team love these plants so much that they also keep them at home. So together we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of our tried and tested methods to care for your Phalaenopsis Orchid.

1. Don’t water it too much

We know you’re going to love your Phalaenopsis Orchids, but don’t be an overbearing plant parent! Orchid roots like to be watered, but then left to almost dry out before you water them again.

This is because the roots are very susceptible to rot if they’re kept constantly moist.

A good way to tell when it’s time to water your orchid is by sticking your finger into the pot. If it feels wet, don’t water yet! You can also try lifting the pot to feel how heavy it is. When the pot is dry it will feel very light, and it might be time to give your orchid a drink.

On average, Phalaenopsis Orchids will only need watering around once a week, or perhaps a little more often in the hot summer months.

2. Keep the crown dry

It’s not just the roots that can rot, the orchid’s crown – the centre, where new leaves emerge – also doesn’t like to get wet. If water is trapped in the crown, it can lead to rot.

Water your orchid carefully, and try to avoid getting any water in the plant’s crown at all. If you accidentally splash a little in there, then you can try blotting it out with some paper towel.

3. Keep warm, but out of direct sunlight

Phalaenopsis Orchids are indoor plants – they love warm temperatures, between 24°C and 29°C. If you like to keep your house warm, you’ll make an excellent orchid owner!

However, orchids are just like people, we may love the heat, but sunburn isn’t healthy! Keep your plant out of direct sunlight to avoid the burn.

4. Humidity is key

We know these elegant orchids are starting to sound a bit fussy, but stick with us! While they don’t like to be watered too much, a humid atmosphere is perfect, as it keeps them hydrated without being wet.

Position your Phalaenopsis away from air conditioning, as this can dry it out. Hot, dry conditions can cause unopened buds to drop.

To give the plant the humidity it needs, stand the pot on a tray of pebbles and fill the tray with water. The pebbles will prevent the roots from sitting in the water, but will provide a humid zone where the plant needs it most. You can also try misting the pot on very hot, dry days.

5. Feed well

To really keep your orchid happy and to be rewarded with the most beautiful flowers, you must feed her only the best meals.

Use a high-potassium liquid orchid food to encourage flowering. Apply the dilute fertiliser every two weeks or according to instructions on the container. When conditions are cold, you won’t need to feed her as often.

6. Keep bugs away

Unfortunately, bugs seem to like the Phalaenopsis Orchid as much as we do! Mealy bug is the most common pest found on the plant, but to keep them away, simply spray or wipe some white oil or eco oil onto both sides of the leaves.

This isn’t a poison, but it will suffocate the bugs, leaving your precious plant safe and happy!

You can buy white oil, or just make it yourself at home.

7. When to trim the roots

So, we are listening to the orchid experts on this one! It is a known fact that you should definitely not remove the roots as there is a high chance you’ll harm the plant or introduce a potentially dangerous virus. You only need to trim an orchid root or stem if it’s dry and you’re certain it’s dead, but trim carefully to avoid cutting too deep as that can harm the plant.

8. When to repot your Orchid

According to the experts, it is recommended to repot orchids every one or two years, however if you noticed your orchid’s roots have outgrown it’s pot, or they start to creep over the side of the pot, then it’s an obvious sign your pot has become too small. If you also notice your current pot isn’t draining properly and there is an off smell, this is also a sign of when to repot! Please note; When it’s time to repot, please be careful when removing your plant from its current pot. You’ll need a new pot that is an inch or two bigger than the pot your orchid has just outgrown – and make sure the pot has drainage holes.

Bonus tip: cut the stem to get flowers again

When your orchid finally finishes flowering, and you’re left with just the stem, don’t despair! You can encourage new flowers to appear, simply by cutting the stem.

Notice the small triangular nodes on the stem? The higher ones will have been where your flowers were previously blooming from, so they can’t flower again, BUT find the lowest one on the stem and cut the stem about 1 cm above the node. (You’ll need a good pair of gardening shears)

This will encourage your orchid to start reflowering! Now, this is the one time when Phalaenopsis needs to be kept a little cooler, so try keeping her in a cooler part of the house while you wait for flowers to reappear.

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14 Replies on Phalaenopsis orchid care: how to look after orchids

  • Di Sokolowski says:

    Thank you very interesting , what about fertiliser in winter please???

    • Daniel Groch says:

      Thanks for your question Di!
      Phalaenopsis orchids do need some fertilizer to maintain optimal health, but they are light feeders and do not like or tolerate large amounts of nutrients on a regular basis. It is very easy to over-fertilize Phalaenopsis orchids, which can lead to nutrient toxicity and damage to the foliage and roots.
      Read more ?

  • Corinne Haber says:

    When do you need to trim the roots and when do you need to re-pot

    • Daniel Groch says:

      Thanks so much for your question Corrine. We’ve updated this post to cover trimming the roots & reporting. Enjoy!

  • l morelli says:

    why are the leaves withering and turning yellow

    • Daniel Groch says:

      Sorry to hear your phalaenopsis orchid plant is showing signs of distress ☹️
      Usually when the leaves turn yellow it’s a sign of over-watering. Remember that this plant while delicate and gorgeous is actually very hard, like a glamorous succulent really! It only needs an ice-cube amount of water once per week.

  • Jennifer says:

    My orchid has quite long roots growing out side the pot. When I repot should I trim them and try to squish them into the new pot and cover with soil?
    What is the best potting mix please?

    • Daniel Groch says:

      Yes, that’s totally fine to trim the extra lengths of stem. Please refer to our other replies regarding the best potting mix medium.

  • Emma says:

    I have two of these orchids. Can they be repotted in the same pot? They are a few years old and haven’t flowered since, and they are both in different potting mix types. One is like a moss while the other is more like wood chip

    • Daniel Groch says:

      You most certainly can. We purchase them as individual plants with either a single or double stem, then we combined them in a single soil-like material. Our preferred base material is moss because it meets the phalaenopsis orchid’s need for something like a host tree, since in the wild they grow in the bark of a host tree.

  • Anna says:

    When re-potting, can any soil do? And what do I do if one of the new leaves turned brown ? 🙁

    • Daniel Groch says:

      In their natural tropical environment, phalaenopsis orchids grow on trees which means they rely on a host plant. This makes them different from other types of flowers that grow in the ground. Instead of regular soil, phalaenopsis orchids need potting material that mimics a host tree or comes from one. They also need plenty of a breathing space around their roots as they usually receive a breeze when they grow on tree limbs in the wild.

      What you want to do is mix 4 parts tree bark with 1 part moisture retaining material. In our studio we use moss which is available from wholesale florist suppliers.

  • Austine says:

    Hi Daniel,
    I love your content, the post is awesome -engaging, insightful and simplified
    Just to contribute a little to the post if you don’t mind. I think that the state of leaves can determine if your orchid is getting the right amount of light or not – A dark green leaves show your plant is not getting sufficient light, Yellowish green to red leaves show your plant is getting too much light, and bright green leaves show your plant is getting sufficient light. What do you think?
    Good stuff, keep up the awesome work

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