We discussed the initial shock of discovering your orchid plant has lost its blooms in our previous post, but today we continue to explain how cutting back your spike can actually help the reblooming process of your Phalaenopsis orchid.
Cutting the Spike of Your Orchid
Experts believe that cutting the Phalaenopsis orchid spike off at the base (if your spike is brown) will allow the plant to conserve its energy as it prepares itself for regrowth and blooming. Having the Phalaenopsis orchid spike emerge from the base once again will result in blooms that appears sooner, and the blooms will also be smaller because it will take the plant more energy for the spike to branch.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when thinking of cutting a green Phalaenopsis orchid spike:
Nodes occur in various locations along a spike. Some nodes have the potential to create a new branch at some of the node locations. If a spike is going to be cut, it should be done directly one inch above the node.
When Phalaenopsis orchids have been blooming for a long period of time, the bloom spikes often become long and unruly looking. A good time to cut spikes is in the later part of spring so that the Phalaenopsis orchid has the entire summer to regain its strength, grow more leaves, and experience root regrowth.
Because of the constant air temperature that exists within our homes, the Phalaenopsis orchid may forget when it is time for the blooming to once again begin. To help these beauties along in their plight, orchid plants require a little exposure to the cool evening temperatures, which will help to kick-start the spikes into growing once again.
Many people have heard that orchids are difficult to handle so they often steer clear of owning their own orchid plant, despite their love and appreciation for the beautiful looking flowers. Phalaenopsis orchids, however, are considered to be the easiest type of orchid to grow within a home environment. Many owners of Phalaenopsis orchids are surprised to find that mature Phalaenopsis orchid plants are in bloom for a good part of the year.
The Loss of Orchid Blooms
In the late part of spring or early summer, the blooms on the Phalaenopsis orchid plant will begin to fall. To those who are new to orchid ownership, they may think that the Phalaenopsis orchid is dying due to plant illness, or perhaps even dehydration. The dropping of the blossoms however are only beginning the plants yearly growth cycle. During this time, the Phalaenopsis orchid plant will focus on growing new leaves and roots before it is time to once again begin the blooming cycle.
A new Phalaenopsis orchid owner often wonders if or when they should cut back their plants spikes once the plant has lost its blooms. On some plants, the spike will turn brown all of the way down to the base of the plant. On other plants, the spike will turn brown only partially down the spike of the plant.
Check back to learn more information about how cutting spikes affect the growth of a Phalaenopsis orchid.
Similar to humans, animals, trees, and some plant species, Phalaenopsis orchids can undergo stressful times when they become overheated. It is important for Phalaenopsis orchid owners to be able to recognize the signs of orchid distress as soon as possible so that the ensuing plant can be helped prior to the orchid being permanently damaged beyond repair.
Phalaenopsis orchids are a more sensitive type of orchid breed. When the plants are subjected to excessive heat, the moisture that is contained in the plants tissues will evaporate which causes an imbalance called “transpiration.” Phalaenopsis orchids require that moisture be replaced in order to avoid dehydration.
Signs that a Phalaenopsis orchid is dehydrated include:
- Heat stress
- Leaves or plants turning yellow
- Withering leaves
- Leaves that appear leathery
In an attempt to save a wilted, dehydrated Phalaenopsis orchid, some people tend to overwater the failing orchid plant. Overwatering the orchid is not the way to rehydration and, instead, often causes the orchid to experience rotting within the plants root system. The best way to help a faltering Phalaenopsis orchid recover from dehydration is to be mindful of the heat that the plant was exposed to. Changing its location is a good idea so that it is not exposed to quite as much heat. Additionally, Phalaenopsis orchids may require more watering when temperatures are on the upswing.
Keeping a close eye on your beautiful Phalaenopsis orchid will help you catch any problems that arise early.
Just like people, too much sun is bad for the Phalaenopsis orchid plant. Unlike humans where adding sunscreen is an option when time is spent in the sun, Phalaenopsis orchids must instead live a somewhat sheltered—or better yet—filtered lifestyle. Phalaenopsis orchids will grow splendidly if proper care for their temperament is taken into consideration.
Sunlight and Your Phal Orchid
There are 20,000+ species of orchids. The Phalaenopsis orchid is one of the most prized species of plants that are found growing indoors throughout the United States. Owners of Phalaenopsis orchids often run into trouble with their orchids when they place the plant in a location where a robust amount of sunshine affects their ability to thrive.
Sheltering Your Orchid Plant
While Phalaenopsis orchids do enjoy natural light, they cannot withstand the blasts of heat that is associated with being placed in direct sunlight. Orchid growers recommend that Phalaenopsis orchids be placed in an area that is not exposed to direct sunlight where they will not become too hot. These delightful houseplants will flourish in humid climates that are warm, where they are sheltered behind a sheer curtain or dappled shade. The Phalaenopsis orchid will succeed when offered, at minimum, a half day of sunlight that is filtered. The best sunlight for a Phalaenopsis orchid can be found on the south or west facing window.
For most areas of the United States, May through September is the hottest months to endure. Careful watering considerations should be taken to ensure that the Phalaenopsis orchid is well watered, but never left wet and soggy. For the watering of Just Add Ice Orchids, you just add 3 ice cubes once a week—it's that simple! Always remember to let the roots dry out between waterings and do not over-water to avoid problems with the Phalaenopsis Orchid.
In our previous post, we discussed the serious toll scale insects can take on your orchid plants and introduced you to mealy bugs. Today, we take a more in depth look into mealy bugs and how you can detect them on your plant.
Identifying Mealy Bugs
Mealy bugs can easily be identified in their adult form. The long tailed mealy bug is the easiest for most people to identify because of its long filaments on the backside of its body. Look for these pests to be varying in shades of white, pale pink or even blue in color. Orchid owners often find these pests on the underside of their Phalaenopsis orchid leaves, but they may also be hidden in other areas of the plant.
Unlike scale insects, which do not travel around a Phalaenopsis orchid, the mealy bug is considered to be a serious pest because of its ability to stay on the move and travel from place to place both within the Phalaenopsis orchid plant and even outside of the orchid plant.
Mealy Bugs on the Move
Mealy bugs in different life stages will exit the existing plant and take refuge under the potted plant, travel to a neighboring plant, hide in cracks and crevices where the plant is located, under rims of pots, and under trays where the orchid is located. One of the worst problems with Mealy Bugs is that the nymphs are so tiny that they are extremely difficult to see and they usually require a magnifying glass to locate them. Because of their tiny size, the little crawlers are able to hide or crawl from plant to plant with ease, which in turn will easily spread the mealy bug infestation. Mealy bugs will also travel to other ornamental plant species that are located nearby.
It is important to begin treatment of mealy bugs as soon as they are discovered. Mealy bugs can be removed more easily once they reach adulthood because they can be seen, but the younger generations are the most problematic pests. In order to bring a mealy bug infestation under control, it is recommended that mealy bugs be treated every 10 to 14 days.
Photo credit: blumenbiene
It may be hard to imagine, but even with the most diligent care of your most favorite Phalaenopsis orchids, unwanted insect invaders can easily appear at any moment in time. Although typical household plant pests can attack orchids, the most common insect Phalaenopsis orchid invaders are scale insects and mealy bugs.
Scale insects are tiny insects that do not have visible legs or antennae. Scale will press tightly against the Phalaenopsis orchid that they are feeding upon. You will find the scale insects hiding on the undersides of the leaves, feeding upon the plant. Scale insects have long stylets, which are much longer than the insect itself. This invasive insect will feed slowly upon a plant reducing its vigor and, if not treated, its lifespan. Evidence of scale can be recognized when a plant begins to grow poorly or when leaves or spikes begin to die. On Phalaenopsis orchids, scale insects are often confused with mealy bugs because of the cotton-like appearance that they create.
Outdoors, scale is controlled by natural predators such as ladybugs and parasitic wasps, but indoors, they must be carefully treated by focusing on the scale insect nymphs or crawlers rather than the adults. Once scale insects reach adulthood, they are difficult to kill. Like mealy bugs, scale insects in their infancy can easily crawl from plant to plant, or accidentally be blown from place to place. Their tiny size makes hiding and infestation quite easy.
Mealy bugs are another common threat to Phalaenopsis orchids. There are approximately 300 species of mealy bugs that are known in the United States and Canada, but reports state only 39 species of the pests tend to attack orchids. Like scale insects, mealy bugs are a serious threat to Phalaenopsis orchids. Failure to address a mealy bug infestation will result in a serious infestation of the pests.
Please check back for Part 2 on Insects That Can Be Attacking Your Orchids
Great orchid care involves making sure your orchid is receiving the right amounts of light and humidity. You also want to make sure that the temperature is right in the area where you keep your plant. While watering your orchid is important, too much water can be a problem. It's also important to be sure you don't forget to water your orchid, which can be easy since it doesn't require much water.
With Just Add Ice Orchids, you only need to add three ice cubes a week to your orchid's pot. This will keep it looking beautiful and healthy. But, what if you're used to watering your plants more often and you forget?
Weekly Orchid Care Reminders
We understand that you're busy. And everyone can use a reminder now and then. By signing up for our Free Orchid Care Watering Reminders, you'll receive reminders to water your orchid in the way that suits you the best. We can send you email reminders, or you can get them sent right to your phone. Our weekly text message reminders are a great way to be sure that your orchid always receives the water it needs.
Desktop Watering Reminder Calendars
Another option we provide to help remind you when to water your orchid plant is our desktop calendars. You get to choose your watering day and then simply download the calendar to use as your desktop background. Then every time you work on your computer, you will not only enjoy a beautiful orchid image, but also be reminded when to water!
Orchid plants are so beautiful and they will make a lovely addition to any home or workspace. Making sure they receive just the right amount of water will ensure that they stay beautiful and healthy for a long time.
A healthy Phalaenopsis orchid will delight you by displaying its colorful leaves, flowers and buds. But like any plant, this orchid goes through a life cycle that includes shedding old blooms and growing new ones.
If you want to encourage your orchid to stay in bloom or grow new buds, a few basic orchid tips should help you get there.
As Just Add Ice Orchids recommends, just three ice cubes a week should keep your plant sufficiently hydrated throughout the blooming process. Watch your pots for signs of overwatering (damp or standing water on the potting material) or dehydration (drying out of the leaves) and adjust accordingly. However, when fertilizing, follow the direction below …
Using fertilizer while your orchid is already in flower will help it grow new buds. Mix a balanced houseplant fertilizer with water at half the recommended strength – and don’t add ice! The week you fertilize, skip the three ice cubes and instead place the plant in the sink with the drainage holes exposed. Water with the fertilizer solution until you see it starting to run out of the bottom of the pot.
Though a Phalaenopsis normally does best in warmer temperatures, a cooler environment can help trigger flowering. Find an area in your home or office where the temperature stays around 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep your pot there for about a month.
Other Orchid Tips
- Just Add Ice Orchids do best in indirect sunlight. While promoting new bud growth, keep direct sunlight out of the plant’s path.
- Watch for a new spike growing from your pot – the root grows upward and the tip resembles the shape of a mitten.
- Once the spike starts growing, support it with a stake. Avoid re-orienting your pots while the stake and buds grow – keeping them in a consistent position will aid the plant in growing a beautiful, arching display.
Learn More! Visit Just Add Ice Orchids to see and hear from the growing experts in our Orchid Care Videos.
Many well-meaning orchid lovers end up accidentally killing their plants with too much water. Your large orchid might seem like it needs more water, however it actually only needs a little bit of water each week to sustain itself and remain the beautiful plant that you've grown to love. Watering your orchid is important because it transfers the nutrients from the soil into the plant itself. However, in order to know exactly how much water it needs, it's important to understand the basics of orchid care. You should also keep a close eye on your plant to be sure it's not getting too much water.
The Results of Excess Moisture
Excess moisture can cause root rot in your orchid. When it gets too much water, this can cause the carbon dioxide to accumulate in the potting soil. The result is an impeded flow of oxygen to the root hairs of your orchid. It's hard to tell if your plant is getting too much water unless you watch it closely and you know what to look for.
How Much Water Does Your Orchid Really Need?
Is it true that your orchid only needs 1/4 cup of water every two weeks to survive? Just Add Ice Orchids make orchid care simple because they only need 3 ice cubes a week. It might help your peace of mind to try a simple test to be sure your orchid is getting enough water. Periodically, place a toothpick in the soil of your orchid. If it comes out clean, the orchid has enough water. If it doesn't, that means the plant has too much.
We make orchid care straight forward and simple. By following these instructions, your Just Add Ice Orchid can remain a beautiful part of your home for a long time.
Spikes, blooms, leaves… the many parts of a Phalaenopsis orchid can give you a good indication of the plants overall health. Proper orchid care also focuses on a part of the plant that needs special attention: the bud.
The bud is the most sensitive part of the plant – a fact well known by the growers at Just Add Ice Orchids as they prepare their plants for delivery to one of the many stores that sell these colorful flowers. The way temperature, humidity and light levels change in transit can cause a trauma to the orchid and make it abort the buds.
Handle with Care
Just Add Ice takes steps to keep their buds thriving during transport from its main greenhouses at Green Circle Growers, one of the largest greenhouse operations in the Midwest, to retail centers across the United States. The growers choose only the healthiest plants, then pack and ship them carefully prior to delivery.
- The plants are potted, then put into a protective sleeve
- The sleeves go into trays to keep them upright in the box
- The trays are placed in a box with heat packs to keep a constant temperature throughout transportation
Your Part in Orchid Care
Once you get your Phalaenopsis home, keep an eye on the buds as you find the ideal setting for your pot. A warm, more humid environment – free of direct sunlight or draft – will help your buds retain optimum health and bloom into flowers that will delight you for a long time to come.
Find more orchid care tips by checking out some of our other blog posts.