As you may have already noticed, Phalaenopsis orchids are a true love of mine. There is no doubt in my mind that you too have come to absolutely adore these unique and opulent plants. (It’s where the name of this site comes from!) Misinformation out there has led so many people to believe that they are incapable of raising healthy, thriving orchids. Thankfully, indoor orchid care maintenance is not nearly as difficult as it has been presented to be. With just a few tips, you too will be enjoying a thriving orchid for many years to come!
Phalaenopsis Orchid Care Needs
There are a few main categories to consider when discussing indoor orchid care maintenance. These would be:
Below is a breakdown of the best ways to care for your orchids in each category…
Phalaenopsis orchids like to be moist but not overly wet. They never like standing water in their pots! A Phal orchid with roots that are stagnant in water will surely rot (and it doesn’t take that long).
In my post about the best way to water orchids, I discuss the different methods you can use to safely water your orchids.
The two best methods are soaking them or watering them from above.
To soak your orchid, you’ll simply take the plastic pot your orchid is potted in, place it in a clean sink or bowl filled with enough tepid (lukewarm) water to be around half-way up your pot. Leave your plastic orchid pot to sit in this water for 15-30 minutes. Remove the pot from the water and let it thoroughly drain until all excess water is gone. (I like to gently tilt my pot from side to side to release any pooled water that might be trapped)
You should be able to see your orchid roots looking green and plump through the sides of your orchid pot. This is a sign they have been freshly watered and are fat with moisture. 🙂
Watering from above emulates a tropical rain shower from their natural environment. You can either use a shower-head from your bathroom shower or the handheld attachment on many kitchen sinks. Simply turn the water to lukewarm and water the orchid from the sides, soaking the potting media your orchid is in.
If the orchid leaves are in the way, gently lift those to get a better angle into the pot.
I typically will soak the potting medium with water, drain the excess out completely, then repeat 2 more times. After the final soak, I use extra caution to be sure that no water is pooled in the bottom of the pot.
If a sprayer is not available, that’s okay. Using the faucet itself is easily done as well. Tilting the orchid pot slightly should give you just enough angle to easily saturate the mix with water. Moving the pot around in a circle as you water helps you reach all the areas required.
Phalaenopsis orchids can and will burn in direct sunlight. They prefer bright but indirect light. Inadequate lighting can cause a lot of issues with orchids, including poor health and inability to rebloom.
North or east facing windows work best for this orchid variety. They will also tolerate west or south facing windows if protected by a curtain or other light filter source.
Orchids not receiving enough light will have dark green leaves. A nice light to medium green indicates your orchid is happy with the amount and type of light it is around.
If your home is lacking natural light, you can use grow lights. Orchids respond beautifully to artificial light. We use them here and our orchids absolutely flourish!
If you are interested in grow lights, have a look at my post reviewing different grow light options for your home.
Throughout the year in our homes and offices, as creatures of comfort, we run our central air and heat systems. This lowers the humidity levels in our spaces and can create some challenges.
For optimal orchid health, the American Orchid Society recommends humidity levels between 40 to 70%.
This isn’t as hard to achieve as you might think. In rooms such as a sunroom or bathrooms, humidity levels are naturally higher.
(Quick tip: You can offer some of your plants higher humidity by placing them in the bathroom while you shower)
If the air in your home or office tends to be on the dry side, there are some great options for you to consider.
- Mist the leaves and aerial roots of your orchid daily with water. In very dry environments, you may need to even spritz them several times throughout the day. A mister such as this beautiful vintage one or a spray bottle will work great for this purpose. Aerial roots love this kind of humidity!
- Using a humidity tray is the perfect solution if you don’t have the opportunity to mist your orchids daily. These are also the best solution if you need to substantially increase humidity. Orchids (and other tropical plants) absolutely love humidity trays. You can purchase a high quality tray from Humidi-Grow or you can make your own at home like the video below.
- Humidifiers are also an excellent option. I have used them a lot to increase humidity with great results. Plants aren’t the only ones who benefit from going with this method. For many people, dry air causes pesky problems such as nosebleeds, sinus irritation, dry skin/scalp and dehydration. Increasing humidity levels to optimal ranges will certainly improve your health and your plants. Be sure not to overly saturate the air with moisture as this causes its own set of problems.
- Grouping plants together also naturally increases humidity for them. It is important to keep in mind however that while most plants don’t mind being near one another, they enjoy a bit of space to breathe too! A jammed placement of plants increases the likelihood of disease and is not recommended.
Phalaenopsis orchids seem to do best with moderate to warm temperatures. They will burn if it’s too hot and they will freeze when it is too cold. Above 90 and below 55 for extended periods will cause distress for your orchid.
In our homes, the temperatures we tend to keep our thermostats set on are ideal for Phal orchids. During the day, they enjoy temperatures in the range of 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit. In the evenings, Phal orchids enjoy a ten degree differential preferably. This means that temperatures in the 60s would be ideal.
Unlike most of our familiar houseplants, orchids are adapted to conditions that experience not only seasonal variation in temperatures but also significant day/night variations as well. These seasonal and diurnal variations are often critical to proper growth and flowering and, when not provided, may weaken the plant and allow the development of temperature-stress related disorders.American Orchid Society
Fertilizer needs vary from plant to plant. Phalaenopsis orchids tend to prefer a urea free fertilizer. Having a urea-free formula helps the nitrogen release rapidly, making it available for your orchid to absorb.
Which formulation strength your orchid will need varies somewhat by the substrate you are using. If your orchid is in orchid bark, a 30-10-10 formula will often work well. If your orchid is housed in sphagnum moss, a 20-20-20 might be a better fit for you.
It has been my experience to use the orchid food rule of thumb, “weakly, weekly.” This means you mix a small amount of liquid orchid food into the water used to water your plants. Please do keep in mind that you should not spray or wet any buds or blooms with fertilizer. Only the lower portions of your plant should be in contact with the fertilizer.
There are also some great orchid fertilizers that are available already in a spray bottle. Using these simplifies the process as you can lightly mist the orchid leaves and potting media. You will want to be sure that it is a high quality mix though. Poor fertilizers can damage your orchid. Here are some of the best orchid fertilizers available.
Indoor Orchid Care Made Easy
As you can see, when done correctly, indoor orchid care maintenance is not difficult at all. Phalaenopsis orchids in particular are pretty easy to care for and will reward you with blooms that last for months! There is nothing like the opulence they immediately bring into your space.
Keep in mind the tips above and you too will be enjoying your orchid in a way you never have before.
Have you found this article helpful? Any questions that I might be able to answer for you? Let me know in the reply box below.
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