help! how can i make my orchid grow?

deadflower.jpg

Why, oh why, won’t my orchid bloom? When I brought it home in the dead of winter, I was been determined to keep it alive. After the original flowers fell off, I snipped the stem right below the bud, as I had read to do. I keep it in our bathroom, where it seems to enjoy the steady temperature, little sunlight and moist air. Every ten days or so I give the pot a 30 second dunk in warm water. But six months have passed, and even though new leaves are growing at the base, there is no sign of new flowers. What should I do now? I’ve followed most of the instructions from the Orchid society, on how to care for a Phalaenopsis, moth orchid but I’m just not sure what’s up. Should I just be patient? Do I need to repot? Snip the stalk again? Fertilize? Any advice from those with first-hand orchid experience would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! — Angela M.

From our partners

I could’ve kicked myself with mine. I had three of them hanging around for a year with no flowers, even after diligently watering, taking care of sunlight requirements, fertlising etc. I got mad and put two of them out on the balcony in the snow where they froze and died. Then about a week later the third started to flower!

I had totally neglected it in my fit of rage and hadn’t watered it. The flower stalk grew beautifully and was just about to flower when I stupidly decided to repot it. Gah. All the flowers fell off. I’m sure it will be another year before it flowers again. Mine grew loads of leaves but no flowers in it’s year long vacation from flowering. I think they say that if you water them too regularly they do this? I don’t know. I just know that my peace lily is far more profitable a plant (if plants are profitable).

Oh man I need to get in on this! I had an orchid sitting around my place for a few years…actually it was an orchid for about a month and then it was a few leaves with a tall stick in the middle.

I moved a few weeks ago and finally just threw the stupid thing away! it’s probably making cute orchid babies now in some trash heap in the middle of Jersey.

Sorry I don’t have any advice for you, but I totally share your frustraion! Oh, and I love your little flower clip thingies too!

Okay, here’s what I do…and I usually get orchids about twice a year.

Only water once a week, unless you are soaking it. Then you should just stick your finger in the orchid mix (yes, you need to use the bark mix not dirt), if it’s dry, water. Orchids really don’t like wet “feet” so don’t let water pool in the bottom of their pots.

Do not clip any of the roots that may come over the side. Orchids are those types of plants that have air roots (no, I don’t know the real name).

Don’t repot while it is blooming. Or growing a spike. Wait until the flower dies. I usually cut the spikes at about the second knuckle up from the leaves.

Orchids also like food…you don’t need orchid food, Miracle Grow will work just fine.

Okay, I think that’s all I ever do. I have discovered that the more I tend to the orchid, the worse it does. If I ignore them for the most part they do really well. Also, I keep mine outside. They only cycle into the house when they are in bloom, but then again, I live in So. Cal. I can get away with that.

Good luck!

Maggie

I concur w/the remarks of msdramateacherlady. However, our geographic conditions are very different. I live in Minneapolis, so mine stay inside year round. However, the “ignore” technique has yielded a new bloom spike for me in the past. In fact, I became so excited that I succesfully got an orchid to rebloom, I ran to an area orchid farm & bought 3 more (2 “milts” and 1 dendrobium). Currently I have nothing in bloom or, to the best of my knowledge, even considering it. But I wait w/baited breath for my orchids to surprise me again some day.

The guy @ the orchid farm (Winesome Orchids) told me to set them up in a humidity tray (in my case a lg. glazed terra cotta saucer filled w/lava rock & water) and to water when the plant medium was dry. I fill the tray up more frequently. I’m just careful that the orchids’ feet aren’t touching the water. He also encouraged me to fertlize weakly, weekly. I alternate between a fertilizer that encourages growth (don’t remember the “numbers”) and a “bloom booster”. And to be completely honest, I’m certain that I don’t water or fertilize with the digligance that he recommends.

As long as the leaves are green I figure I’m good. Anything beyond that is good practice in patience.

Good luck!

Maggie

Oh! And I wouldn’t trip the spike any further. I’ve heard that you should only cut off the part that it totally dead (like straw). My phal shot a new bloom spike right out of the old one!

Cait

I agree with Maggie, you shouldn’t trim off anything that is still green, ’cause sometimes they will spontaneously flower again. My mom has had really good luck with orchids lately (everytime she gets one to flower again my father buys her another). She keeps them in the same spot year round and they never go outside. I would make sure that your orchids are in big enough pots with plently of drainage, my mom gets special potting mix from the nursery that she swears by. Good luck!

feedings are key for getting blooms out of orchids. you can use miracle grow but i think that orchid food is a much more “balanced” food and really treats everything it needs. it’ll only set you back around $5 for the tiny jar and it’ll last forever.

also, as mentioned before NEVER cut something green. after a bloom wilts you wait until the stalk is brown and then cut just above where it grows out of the plant, but only when it’s dried and brown.

also, i had an orchid for 5 years that my brother propogated [made, you have to pollinate them by hand with an eyedropper – whew!] before it bloomed. they are very sensitive to movement, light and moisture. maybe it’s too wet in the bathroom? maybe move it to a place with indirect light and see if it does better?

jennifer

speaking of orchids, does anyone know a good resource in NYC, preferably Brooklyn?
Thanks!

Orchids like light, not direct sunlight, but a good amount of indirect light. They are also sensitive of photoperiod, if the days are short you might want to extend the light period with fluorescent lights. Also humidity, but as someone mentioned before they don’t like to have their feet wet. Soak them in water once a week and let the water drain. Use fertilizer, yes, plants need food to grow (and water and light) specially if the substrate where they are is not soil. Orchid fertilizer works well. I usually trip the whole flower stalk once it has dried out. You will get a new one that will be bearing flowers hopefully soon.

the info at the orchid section of garden-web offers a lot of different advice here, and that advice gave me a few spikes/blooms last year.

key: light. more light than you can imagine. grow lights. fluorescent lights. 12 hours a day.

when blooms fall off, cut spike down to right above second node

never re-pot while blooming or spiking

certainly, i’m no expert. but i’ve been trying to get my collection to rebloom after 6 years (yes, i am patient) and these tips–esp the light–were the only thing that worked.

oh, and forget the humidity tray. doesn’t work, say people on garden-web

Beth

I am so good at growing roots over the side and producing green leaves. That currently I have a pointy light green “something” coming out of the side. Is that a Spike? or another cruel way of saying that I have another root coming out?

It is staying a lime green color. Not getting that milky white color over it. Could it really be a spike?

I went to the Orchard Show out here in California in Santa Clara. They said to shock the Orchid to produce a spike. Welll, if that is it, I moved it to another room with a little more sunshine and the leaves got a little blistered, but it may have worked and produced a spike.

I guess we are all waiting and seeing what it is!?!?!?

I do have the Miracle Gro stuff, but am looking for a good orchid food. I have a beautiful phal in bloom (bought it that way). Resources say that the food should have less than %20 nitrogen.

claire

I can’t believe how much you guys are all willing your orchids to grow new spikes. Ever heard the one ‘a watched kettle never boils’? Much the same for orchids I’m afraid. If you don’t have the patience of a saint, then orchids aren’t the plant for you. The more you ignore them, the more they will do (they are pretty shy when they don’t have blooms so don’t pressure them!). My parents have dozens and to my dismay, they all seem to be perpetually in gigantic weighty blooms. They say older plants bloom more often and have more sturdy looking spikes. Theirs kept inside on windowsills and are in FULL sunlight, with plenty of artificial light (just normal room lighting) in the evenings. Water once a week, with about a half cupful each and OCCASIONALLY fertilise if you must, with a specialist product, but its just not neccessary. Only pot in bark chips and keep really root bound in small pots (they really do like to be squished up in a pot!). Only repot (the same pot is fine) if the orchid has attained an awkward, lop-sided or if the underneath root system is pushing the plant high above the pot. Never cut roots unless they are brown and rotten. When you do re-pot you can gently coax most of them into the pot/bark to tidy up the look, but it is perfectly natural for lots of roots to be growing above the line of the pot, honestly. The best things in life come to those who wait, so just let them quietly prepare themselves to send up spikes. Best tip is to buy lots of them, cut the flower spikes RIGHT DOWN TO THE LEAFY AREA as soon as they have finished flowering and just pop them out of sight (corner of windowsill, still in sun, and keep watering as normal). Trust me, within 3-6 months, they will send up a new spike. At this time they stop being shy and really like to show off, which they will do for about 3 months to reward you for your patience! Hopefully they will flower in shifts so you can always have at least one bloomer on the go at any point in the year. I have popped mine in the fridge overnight before when I have been desperate for a bloom, and it didn’t do any harm, and one did send up a spike a few weeks later, but to be honest, it probably would have without my intervention. Good luck but remember; plenty of PATIENCE, a little water once a week, as much light as you can give them, and a little pot luck and anyone can be a happy orchid lover!

claire

Oh, and don’t even think about touching new tender spikes or buds as they are guaranteed to snap/fall off. My 2 year old daughter LOVES picking the buds off ours then watching me as I run around tearing out my hair in sheer dismay!!! KEEP OUT OF THE REACH OF CHILDREN! :-)

Bill

I have an orchid, bought in 6 inch pot, had one spike w/4 flowers, that was 2 years ago, hasn’t bloomed since. The leaves are now 11 to 12 inches in length and 3 to 3 1/2 inches wide. Hasn’t been re-potted. Clear pot, rots look good, not rot bound. I live in Parker, Colorado. The plant is in a west facing window. It stays inside. Help.. I so want it to flower again.

Marti

Well I read this to gain some insight. and that I did. You are as lacking in Orchid knowledge as I am.

I went to our local flower and garden show and asked a lady whom I was told was the Orchid specialist. What she told me. that I am now doing, so do not know the outcome; was to water with food for two weeks, then do not for two weeks and repeat this. Said if I do this, it will bloom. She also told me to cut the stalk off as close to the plant as possible. So I did, green as it was. I am waiting to see if she knew what she was talking about. I keep the humidity tray under mine and I do have new leaves and good color, but am not willing to throw my plant out.

Good luck

hp2304

all i do is soak it in warm water for about 15mins once every 10 or so days. it sits on my windowsill where theres lots of light. thats it. no fertilizer, no re potting, no humidity trays.
i bought it in september with two stalks of flowers, i accidently broke one of them and they died so i cut it down above a node and its already grown another stalk of flowers….

susie

I’m confused. One says “Cut the stem right down after the flower falls off”
The next one says “Wait and cut the dead part of the stem off”

carol

I have owned dozens of orchids (phaelenopsis) over the past 9 years. these are a few of my observations:

1. I am specializing in just the phaelenopsis variety (I have one dendrobium but it is not doing anything – I found this site because i was hoping to help it – but i can’t resist puttin my 2 cents in on this discussion. ) I think learning what one variety likes is difficult enough, so find one you like and stick to it.

2. If one of my plants likes a site, the others seem to also. Mine like my present office space: Northwest window sill, frosted glass, heat set at 68, AC set at 78. Both are off at night and on weekends. Lights are on 7:30 – 5:30 M-F unless we have enough daylight, like in the summer, yesterday the flourescents were not on all day. San Jose Ca. Farily mild climate, but I’ll bet those winter nights got down into the 40s in this office.

3. I aim to water once a week. If I am going to be away two weeks I have someone water only once.

4. I feed orchid food. Every watering, unless I am lazy. I only use bottled water. (does my boss know?)

5. Roots sticking out of the pot seem to be a good sign that a spike will start soon.

6. If you cut off a spent spike completely, a new spike has to form. I think this is harder than getting an old spike to rebloom, BUT it looks nicer. Remembering Botany I took 25 years ago, plants produce a hormone at their tip that supresses branching so I am guessing that when you cut a spent spike, you allow a new spike to grow.

Does this work?

I have 7 plants on my window sill. One just finished blooms that lasted about 3-4 months. One is in bloom, one is just starting a spike.

Two look bad, i think they were both at my house in places that they did not like. I think they may die. Oh well. I’ll buy some more if they go.

The other two look happy.

Hope this helps someone else!

Lorie

I just purchased myself 2 orchids plants and noticed the roots sticking out on all sides of the pot, so I clipped them off. I mentioned this to my mother, she said I shouldn’t of done that because now they might die! Is this true? Will it die just because I clipped some roots?

Janelle

Well, I am very pleased to say that I have a “spike” after having my orchid for five years without a sign of blooming. I’ve tried everything on the net and have only had success by doing the following.
1. I put it in a small pot where it was root bound.
2. I used special “orchid potting mix” with bark in the bottom. I also put a zip lock bag in the bottom of the clay pot because whatever anyone else says, my orchid likes the moisture.
3. It’s in indirect sunlight most of the day, and direct from about 7:00 PM on. ( I live in Alaska, land of the midnight sun.)
4. I spray it daily with water in a squirt bottle, giving it moisture, but not really wetting it. (Alaska is VERY dry!)
5. I feed it orchid food specifically ment to encourage blooming once a week.
6. And there is a climate change from about 70 – 75 degrees during the day to 60 – 65 during the night. I read on the net at some orchid growing place that to get an orchid to bloom it needs drastic change in temperture. (maybe the shock that it likes)
Anyway, after trying all the humidity trays and the rest, with NO results for FIVE years, the above has produced a spike and I can’t WAIT to see the blooms!

Fouzia

I have 3 plants and all of them blooms once when I bring them to my home. After that, they only give me lots of leaves for about 6-7 years. One of plant is dandrobium, and every year it seems die, loosing all of its leaves, give me and my mom a dry, dead appearance, but after a month new plants come-out from dead sticks, having 4-5 small leaves. And throughout the year they remain small, about 3-4 inch height, and again die. I do my best to keep them alive and fertilize them twice a month. Water them in the morning, so bark can dry. Can anyone pls. suggest me what I should do to make them happy & in return they also make me happy?

Alembic

Let’s see I bought a dying.. er almost dead orchid on clearance for $2.00. I figured it would die, I’m really a shamrock grower… Anyway,I decided to repot it and trim away the dead roots like the internet said. It had one root that was half alive, all the others were rotted. I didn’t have anything special to pot it in and was unaware that I couldn’t put it in dirt and since I paid 2 dollars for the orchid I wasn’t about to pay 20 plus for orchid moss and food, when I knew it would die. I smashed a Terra caute pot and put it in the bottom of the pot and planted the orchid in my rabbit’s aspen bark and put some rabbit droppings in there for food. I think I bought it about 3 months or so ago…. I stuck it in a window sill…. It started losing leaves so I moved it around the house until I found a location it liked. Now, the orchid has 2 new leaves and at least 4 visible healthy green roots… I think the neglecting theory works.

Cody

I have an orchid that i bought in miami july 14th. it has two spikes and all the flowers have bloomed. i was wondering when do you think it will start producing babies. that is something im really interested in. please e-mail me. SOMEONE!!

help.

Diane

I received an orchid for my birthday July 7th and was thrilled. Always wanted one and understand now why it’s so important to appreciate the plant while it’s in bloom. The flowers started falling off last week and I”m down to 2 very sad white blooms. I’ve just read the majority of the comments here and am hoping it doesn’t take years before I see flowers again. I understand patience (have 3 children : ) and just wanted to thank all those who commented on this site. When you type in “how do I get my orchid to bloom” your usually at the desperation point. Not desperate yet! Thanks again for the info and a few laughs.

Ken

Phals need very bright light ie: east exposure or filtered south or west. Move to brighter light gradually over a week or so or it can burn the leaves. Watering should never be on a rigid schedule… Most orchids need to dry out between waterings. In nature they grow as epiphytes (mostly on tree bark high in the canopy) in tropical areas that experience very frequent rain followed by intense filtered sunlight. NEVER cut off adventurous roots or try to force them back into the pot (you can redirect them slightly when wet). Never cut off green spikes. Stressing the plant can sometimes induce spikes. Humidity is very important for Phals -prefferably at least 45% – humidity trays or pebble trays can help, but keep the base of the pot above the water so it doesn’t wich up into the plant. When orchid roots stay too wet too long they rot and the plant dies. When dying they will frequently spike and flower with or without keikis (baby plants) as a last ditch attempt to procreate…

Courtney

Someone said they didn’t know what an “air plant” was called. Plants that do not grow in soil, such as Orchids, are called Epiphytes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphyte

Tanis

Hello! I am a new Orchid owner!!! I want to clear up a fuzzy question I Have…When my flower dies…I wait until the entire steam is dry before I cut it???Thanx

Amanda

Hello! So there seems to be a bit of confusion and misinformation. First, I want to say that it is nearly impossible to kill an orchid, dispite what you may hear. It will be dead if it has no leaves and no roots! If it has roots and new leaves I’ve seen them grow new leaves. With no roots but with leaves, it will grow new roots. Anyway, it’s just a matter of how much time and effort you want to put into helping them recover.

Second, with a phal, it doesn’t matter if you cut the spike after it finishes blooming or leave it. If it stays green then it is likely that it will rebloom from the old spike and it’s easier to get flowers that way so it doesn’t have to create a whole new spike which takes a while. But if you do cut it down all teh way, it wont hurt the plant. If it turns brown then you should cut it because then it definately wont rebloom off that spike.

Spiking: To get your phal to produce a spike, one of the biggest issues is having enough of a temperature difference between night and day. This is the cue the plant uses to initiate spiking. What I do is in the fall leave the windows open overnight so that the temperature drops to 60-65 degrees, while the daytime temperatures are 70-75. Generally, I have found that you need at least a 10 degree temperature drop at night for at least 1 month (but the longer the better) to initiate the spiking. That is not to say that the spikes will form at the end of that month. This initiates the hormonal process in the plant, which it then takes another month or two for the spike to form.

All of the other factors like light, humidity, fertilizing should be proper for healthy plant growth. Those factors can prevent a spike from forming, but doing them all perfectly will not initiate the spike. Also, sometimes holding back on fertilizer during the temperature drop phase can help. Apparently too much fertilizer will cause the plant to grow more leaves and forget about flowering, but I haven’t personally noticed that. But I tend to fertilize pretty weakly.

Fertilizing: It is okay to use a normal fertilizer that is not for orchids, but you want to make sure that it has other micronutrients, otherwise it can lead to a nutrient deficiency. BUT, it is important if you use a non-orchid fertilizer that you use it at half or a quarter of the recommended concentration. You can burn the roots if it’s too concentrated.

Repotting: You should repot if the medium is staying wet for more than a week. It’s good to repot any new orchid that you have bought, but you should wait until it’s stopped blooming so it doesn’t drop it’s blooms, unless the roots/medium looks really bad. If you do repot, it’s really important to water more frequently for a few months as it takes a while for the new bark to be able to hold water. Depending on how large your plant is and how dry it is, sometimes I’ve had to water every day (which you usually consider to be a no-no with orchids, but it was necessary)

Misting: It is usually good to mist the aerial roots (the ones sticking out of the pot) unless you live where it’s so humid that it is basically a rain forest. Usually it’s too dry to support the aerial roots properly, but misting will help greatly. I usually mist once or twice a day. But if you forget, it’s not a huge deal. Never cut off the aerial roots, but if you already have, just don’t do it again. It wont kill the plant (like I said before, that’s almost impossible to do)

Watering: Water when the medium is dry or almost dry. When in doubt, wait another day. But the most important thing is to not let water get into the crown (the spot at the top where the leaves meet the stem). If you do, you will likely get crown rot, which is one of the few ways you can kill your orchid. You have crown rot if the crown/stem is turning black. This is due to bacteria growing in the crown and stem and if not treated, will kill the plant. One way to treat it is by pouring a hydrogen peroxide solution (from the drug store) into the crown. If you repeat this every few days for a couple of weeks, it should get all the bacteria. Then just wait for it to recover.

I hope you find this information useful, and happy growing!

Patricia

This is a truly great blog. I’m so happy that I found it and hope that someone can help me out with a couple of questions.

I just received a Deep Waters Orchid as a gift in honor of my aunt who died. I want to keep it at my office, but I don’t have any direct sunlight. Will it be alright here? There is a window near me where I could keep it in the sunlight for a while during the day, if that would help. The lights are off at night and on weekends, except when I come in to work.

I’m getting my humidity tray set up and I’m going to get a spritzer, but for right now, it has the most beautiful deep purple blooms on it and it’s still in the original container that FTD sent it in.

Some of the flowers are beginning to die. Do I cut them off or just let them fall off?

I sure would like to see this live a long, long time. Any help that any of you could give me would be greatly appreciated. And thanks, Amanda, for all your good advice.

I have an orchid question, too. What does it mean when the leaves turn yellow? Too much water or not enough? I, too, have killed many orchids. I have been watering it once a week, but maybe I am using too much water or maybe I need to water it more often. Any answers? Thanks!

Amy:

What I write here is assuming that you have a phalaenopsis orchid.

Usually when an orchid turns it bottom leaves yellow, and eventually drop them, it is taking nutrients stored in that leaf to sustain the rest of the plant. Occasionally this happens when it tries to adapt to a new environment; such as being in a greenhouse in Florida and moving to your living room in, say, Michigan. Drastically different conditions that it has to adapt to. Also remember that phals store their water and nutrients in their leaves, not their roots.

Under-watering and over-watering produce the same result in an orchid. If you under-water the roots can’t get enough water and the plant suffers. If you over-water the roots rot off and the plant can’t get enough water and suffers. You want to find the happy median between them.

If you are watering once a week, and it’s winter time, my guess is that you are watering too much … depending on the planting medium that it is growing in. I personally grow my phals in sphagnum moss (not peat moss) and they grow and flower great for me. What you should try to do is when you water make sure the medium is thoroughly wet. Then let it sit until it just starts to dry out and then water again.

Another important thing is to insure that the plant has adequate air movement around them. Not only does this help bring fresh air to the plant, it also helps to dry the plant thus preventing any fungal diseases. The fan does not need to be anything huge, nor turned on full blast, just enough to keep the air moving around it. If you water, and the medium is still wet after a week or so, I would recommend getting a small fan to help it dry out some.

Another thing I notice that a lot of the “big box stores” are doing is potting the orchids in a pot without a drain hole; usually in a pretty pot. This will kill it faster than anything. If you ever buy one in one of these pots, the very first thing you should do is take it out of that pot. They are usually in a plastic pot inserted in to this clay pot. Not the prettiest pot, but hey, do you want pretty flowers or a pretty pot? :)

Lastly, if you want to keep it flowering, do NOT cut the flower spike until it has browned all the way to the plant. If happy, your plant will initiate another flower spike off of the original. Most commonly you will see the spike start to brown back about six inches and then stop. This is the plant telling you that it is going to throw a new flower spike at one of the nodes behind the browning. Be patient and keep an eye out for it.

Also, there are times where you don’t want the flower to continue blooming. For instance, if the plant is struggling you will want to cut the spike off so the plant can focus on living instead of flowering; it takes a lot of energy for a plant to flower. To do this cut the spike between the plant and the first node on the spike; usually within a couple inches of the plant.

Sorry for being long-winded but hopefully this helps someone grow, and flower, a happy orchid.

Cheers!
-ken

shelterrific » Blog Archive » getting your orchids to grow — more advice

[…] to get something blooming in your house, here’s an update on one of our most active posts: How can I make my orchid grow?, which has gathered amazing advice in the comments. The other week, we noticed a similar Q&A […]

Ken,
Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. I so appreciate it. I do have a phalaenopsis orchid. I got it for Valentine’s Day. I live in South Texas close to the coast and it is generally hot and humid. My husband bought it from the florist, but I checked the pot and there is no drainage hole!! I will be re-potting. It is in sphagnum moss and that has been drying out dutifully….but who knows what is going on at the bottom. I have been hesitant to repot it while it is flowering, but I want it to live so I don’t have a choice. I’ll get right on that.
I have another question. Since I live in hot, humid weather, could I move it outside? I want to start a collection on my new baker’s rack and put them on an automatic watering schedule. I have ordered the drip system to attach to my outdoor faucet. What do you think?
Again…thanks for your help. I need to go repot now.
Amy

Amy:

Take it out of that pot as soon as possible! Chances are that the bottom sections of the roots are rotted; depending on how long it’s been in that pot. This is probably why the leaves are turning yellow. First thing to do is to find out the size of the pot that it is in now and then go buy a similarly sized pot at a garden store or some other appropriate place. I would recommend a plastic pot, and if you can find it, a clear plastic pot. The clear ones will let you see the roots, or at least the ones close to the edges, and when they start to grow, you’ll see it and know it’s happy.

Next, I wouldn’t worry too much about repotting while it’s in bloom. Phals are pretty hardy, but still be as careful as you can. I’m assuming it has a huge arching flower spike now so you’ll probably want to enlist your husband to help with repotting. Since we are in rescue mode here I won’t go into all the details about properly repotting.

First, to make it a little easier, give the plant a good soaking. This will soften the roots and make them pliable and also loosen them from the sides if they have adhered to the pot. Might as well just fill the pot it’s in up to the top for 10-15 minutes then drain the water out. Next, have your husband stabilize the spike while you lay the plant and pot on it’s side. Gently shimmy the plant out of the pot trying to keep as much of the sphagnum in the root ball, hopefully it just slides out. I usually do this over some newspaper. Once it’s out, and since you have a plastic pot that’s the same size, just slide it in to the new pot and right-side it up. First major crisis averted.

In regards to moving them outside. You could probably move your phal outside, but be real careful. Phals are really low light orchids. You will probably want to make sure it has plenty of shade. Maybe someplace where it’ll get a most a couple hours of morning sun and then just shade. You’ll also want to make sure that you “harden” the plant before you move it out; you don’t want to just throw it out there. Gradually increase the amount of time you let it spend outdoors over a couple weeks.

Also, with an automated watering system you want to make sure that no water gets in to the “crown” of the plant, or at least not for any length of time. Since phals grow vertically, a.k.a monopodial, if any bacteria or fungus gets a hold in the crown, it will rot out the top and thus stop any more growth. You’ll notice this if you see the leaves turn brown and mushy. If the plant is otherwise happy it should try and sprout a new growth off one of it’s sides, but then it will basically be starting over and you’ll have to wait a few years for flowers. Best not to even go there.

Lastly, when the orchid bug really starts to bite, you’ll want to start buying orchids more accustomed to your environment. Two recommendations I would make would be to start looking for Dendrobiums and Cattleyas; both would do great hot and humid and both are pretty high-light orchids.

Also, try looking to see if you have an orchid society in your town or one close. They usually have monthly meetings and have a “show and tell” table with other beautiful orchids. And there is usually quite a few “orchid geeks” like me that are more than willing to help and answer questions. I joined our local society within a few months of getting my first phal and have enjoyed every meeting I’ve been to. I would highly recommend doing this even if you just want to see what other kinds of orchids look and smell like.

Happy growing!
-ken

shelterrific » Blog Archive » five things we learned last week

[…] of the Northwestern Michigan Orchid Society left an extremely detailed and helpful comment on our orchid post, which we mentioned last week. His advice on an orchid with yellowing leaves is: “Take it out […]

omg! I better bring my Orchid back inside I near almost gave up on it until I read this. Thanks for the info!

Evangeline

Phals like a temp drop before they will flower again after their grow period.
try taking it to an unheated area (where it will not freeze) to induce flowering.
also DO NOT USE MIRACLE GROW ON BARK MIX! the nitrogen will make the bark rot and kill the plant.

janet

my husband has around 30 pots of orchids- different sizes. some orchids are just about to explode in their pots, should i separate them and repot. I have only repotted the baby plants that come out from the spikes. The last flower in one of the pots is about to fall, i h hope new spikes will come out for the blooms this time and not babby plants.

thanks for sharing. I hope to make them flower.

Donna

My husband had grown orchids for years before I met him, but was unable to get one to truly spike and bloom on its on. I started in 2006 as a hobby to get my mind off of my diagnosis of breast cancer. I have now I believe 15 beautiful plants, and they are in bloom at different times. At the moment there is one that is soft lime green with a burgundy throat. My husband said he’s not sure what I did but it worked. All I do is water about every 3 days when they are about dry, and also in the summer I keep them on my front porch so they get sun in the afternoon, in the winter they stay in the bathroom or under a sun light. Also I was told by a friend at Carter& holmes greenhouse nursery to cut off any yellowing leaves. Donna

Georgie

This is the best blog ever! I’ve been struggling with Phal orchids for over a year. The first one I bought lasted about 10 minutes before all the flowers fell off, and I thought I’d killed it so I threw it out. Got another one …. same story. So then I sought a bit of help, realised it was normal for them to lose their flowers, so I started again and decided to approach the whole thing with a bit more patience.

I now have three of them, one is beautifully in bloom and has been for about 3 months – it’s gorgeous. The other two had good flowers, but again they fell off quite soon. Someone told me to cut the stem off right at the base, by the leaves, so I did. Reading some of the advice on here now though I’m not sure I should have done that. However, they both still have very healthy green leaves, so I know for sure the plant themselves are not dead yet. I probably just have to be really patient, wait for them to forgive me for cutting off their spikes, and they’ll reward me in the end.

I think watering seems to be the most crucial thing. I think I am over-watering at the moment – it’s sooooo tempting to keep watering plants, but must remember with the air-root type of plants they don’t always appreciate being waterlogged. So I’m going to try and cut back on the watering a bit, and hope that encourages them to bloom more quickly.

Have never heard before the theory of different temperature at night/day etc. But I like the “neglect” school of thought! Less watering, less worrying, and see what happens. I put so much effort in at the beginning, to no avail, so I’m going to let them be a bit more independent now and see what happens. Fingers crossed!

Thank you everyone for sharing all your thoughts and tips,
Georgie

Ruth

It depends of the type of orchid. The Phalaenopsis needs less light than other type of orchid. I have 8 orchids, and everyone bloomed two times in the same year, even now two of my Dendrobiums are getting blooming again. Is good for the orchids once you find a good place to stay with little or indirect sunlight, live them there. DonĀ“t move from here to there, they are like us, every time you move your orchid to a different place they have to get use to a new place and you can notice that their leaves start to be light green. My orchids are all the time in front of a window, in where they just recieve the morning sunlight, is the best, because in not to hot for them. Also you have to fertilized your orchids, remember that the plants are live, they need food as well we need vitamins from the food.

Two very basic things that we often overlooked are that orchids need high humidity and lots of fresh air.

Jean Gabert

i have two orchids, they were a gift to me from my grand daugher, mother’s day, 2008. both were blooming and lovely, one stopped and i was told to cut it back, to the dirt, which i did. wish i had not done that one !!!! the yellow one has bloomed and rebloomed, for 6 months now it has 2 blooms on it, and about 4 buds coming on. the bergundy one has not sprouted anything back, as yet. i have them in a glass room, “wonder glass”, whatever that means, but flowers love it. maybe it is filtered light and holds the right temp but all my flowers do well in that room. my house is too shady, and i could grow nothing, before i enclosed the porch, bottom line, wish i had not cut it back!!!

Courtney

Hello Orchid Growers!

As a brand new “orchidist”, I have had AMAZING success with my Phal I bought at the grocery store in early August and thought I would share what I was doing in hopes it will help others. Now I have FOUR new spikes growing off the old spike right after the old flower blossoms fell.

Method: I try to employee the a “watched pot never boils” theory and not to over baby the plant. I read on another website the whole point of an orchid flowering is in an effort to carry on the species when it feels uncomfortable (thus, plants in which the owners are too diligent don’t spike).

Sunlight: I live in NYCity and I have my plant on a westward windowsill. I turn the plant every once in a while. I believe you should give your plant steady sunlight without burning it. This is especially true if you live in the Northern part of America/Canada. If you live in a hot southern state, maybe reduce to a western window to avoid burning in summer time.

Watering Schedule: I mist the leaves every day at some point with a spray bottle. If I forget or go on vacation, no biggie, I just get to it when I can. I check the potting moss with my finger. If its even a little damp, don’t water. Water it when it feels bone dry. That will probably amount to about once every week and couple of days.

Watering Technique: For my once a week watering, I run it under the sink for a good soaking until I see water steadily leaking out of the drain holes. Then, I let it drain for a few minutes until no more water is draining and put it back to its usual spot on the windowsill.

Temperature: My apartment is about 85-88F degrees in the summer time and 72 degrees in the winter time. However, there is a period of time in the autumn where it is 75F during the day, but a nicely chilly 60-65F degrees at night before the landlord turns on the heat. I believe this transition period helped it spike by making the plant feel a little uncomfortable. I plan to utilize the same transition in spring when they cut the heat.

Trim or not to Trim: I cannot emphasis this next point enough: DO NOT TRIP THE OLD SPIKE IF IT IS STILL HEALTHY AND GREEN!!!! I now have four (FOUR!!!) new spikes growing off the old spikes (this makes it look like it is relatively forked shape at the top). Also, I have seen time and time again my coworkers’ orchids rebloom in the office from the old spike (I also think it’s because they don’t baby them either). When it turns brown, then trim with sanitized(just use rubbing alcohol) clippers down to where it starts to get green again.

Bottom Line: Don’t over-care, over-trim, and give plenty of bright light. Just let it do its own thing and have a couple plants in rotation.

Good Luck!

help i had an orchid brought for me in nov this year now all the flowers have died what do i do with it now do i just throw it away i dont even know which one it is

Courtney

Don’t throw it away (they are expensive!)! It just came to the end of its blooming cycle when you happened to get it. Just read the advice above. Don’t cut anything that is still green. Call your local florist or nursery to see if can identify what kind of orchid it is and get advice as to how to take care of it.

Claire

It only blooms about once a year anyway, so I wouldn’t worry about that. It’s probably too healthy with growing leaves to bloom. Just leave it alone and water infrequently. Some plants don’t flower unless they are stressed. Don’t repot it like other plants unless it’s really obviously growing out of its container.

I water mine about 2 times a month when I remember, have never fertilized it, and just leave it in the southern window. I don’t humidify it. I haven’t repotted it for 4 years now. I don’t even stake the flower stalks. Last month, I had 11 blooms, and now it’s shot out another stalk with 8 blooms.

Most people make the mistake of over-caring for their plants which mostly just like to be left alone.

I have had orchids for many years now..several phalaenopsis and a few Catalayas…I water them one a week during the winter…and keep them in a room with plenty of light and daytime moderated temps and orchids like cool nights. In the summer I put them outdoors on a wallslightlyshaded with plenty of light..and after I bring them back indoors they flower…orchids prefer to be pot bound…and if you must divide the plant don’t repot in a large pot. I prefer using orchid pots..very good drainage..I water my plants in the kitchen sink using the spray hose…hope this info is helpful..
I feel your orchids don’t have much temp change..could be a problem. Always use orchid bark…different tyes for different varieties.
Home Depot sells all of this stuff!!

Sergey

HELP ! My orchid is frost-bitten.
I left it in the car for 2 hours, freezing temperature outside.
In some days leafs died, but roots look healthy.
Is there any chance, this orchid recover ?