Messages posted to thread:

Sunny26-Jan-07 09:44 AM EST
Kim06-Feb-07 04:15 PM EST   
Diane12-Feb-07 01:45 PM EST   
Sunny15-Feb-07 05:28 PM EST   
Rita17-Feb-07 03:26 PM EST 5b   
Ann13-Mar-07 04:30 PM EST 8b   
Diane13-Mar-07 08:34 PM EST   
Jane04-Apr-07 05:41 PM EST 6a   
Gerry King06-Apr-07 09:03 AM EST 3   
Sunny09-Apr-07 07:48 AM EST   
Jane10-Apr-07 03:30 PM EST   
Diane10-Apr-07 09:42 PM EST   
Barb13-Apr-07 08:07 PM EST 4b   

Subject: A new orchid
From: Sunny
Date: 26-Jan-07 09:44 AM EST

Kim, Phaelanopsis! The one i took to my friend's is doing well in her cool, low-light lavatory. forming a new stem with buds. I'm afraid to bring it home! I bought a new one: 3 stems with blooms, various sizes of buds, and just forming buds. I put it in my bathroom, which holds humidity and temp. well. West light thru a glass block window and indirect south light thru regular glass. Water:once every1-2 wks. Mist several times weekly. House temp. lowers at night. Both plants had and have healthy root tendrils and leaves.My new one is having a fine time gradually dropping it's blooms and large buds. Small buds appear to be slightly withering, while new ones appear healthy. It was well above zero when I brought it home, inside 2 paper bags. (The groc. stores here hate it when you ask for paper bags.)I even called the propane comp. to be sure there weren't some sort of undetectable fumes in the house! Any suggestions? I'm so desperate, I'm thinking of buying a terrarium for it!

Subject: RE: A new orchid
From: Kim
Date: 06-Feb-07 04:15 PM EST


I may say that possibly buying the plant at the grocery store may be the problem. Some of these stores do not always buy from growers that climatize their plants to Canadian conditions.

Phaelanopsis are low light orchids. I would move the plant to an east facing window to see how it recovers. There are a few arcticles on this site on Orchid care.

If it doesn't survive then try again with a plant from a local orchid show or a good florist who can tell you if his grower properly climatizes the plant.

Good luck

Subject: RE: A new orchid
From: Diane
Date: 12-Feb-07 01:45 PM EST

Hi Sunny, I am no orchid expert by any means but the orchid I bought at Walmart is doing very well. I agree with Kim, that your orchid needs to be put in an East window for the light that it needs. Look at the leaves of your orchid and if the leaves have red in them or are too dark in color the orchid is getting too much light. I have put my orchid in the east window and have closed off the heat vent to the room so no dry heat is blowing into the room or around the orchid. The room is a bit cooler than the rest of the house and the plants seem to love it.

Putting your orchid in the bathroom is not a good idea. The bathroom will give your orchid highs and lows when it comes to humidity whereas the orchid needs an even keel of humidity at all times. Although they say that putting your orchid on stones in a dish of water is not enough it has done fine for mine. They also say not to spray/mist your orchid and be careful when watering not to get the crown (middle where all the leaves are growing from) wet as this will rot the orchids crown. Do not water your orchid with tap water rather water with tepid or distilled water of room temperature. To Fertilizing your orchid is important as there is no nutrition in the wood chips that the roots of the plant is housed in especially when it is blooming it needs fertilizer to keep it strong. It sounds like your orchid does not have the strength to bloom after forming the buds so it drops them. I fertilize (with premixed distilled water) every other week for two weeks them I leach the orchid to rid the roots of a build up of residue from the fertilizer ,, wait a week then feudalize again. I am fertilizing with Schultz 10-15-10 Liquid Plant Food. Here is a summary of my watering schedule for my orchid for Feb/March/Apr Feb 5 – Fertilize orchid (with tepid pre-mixed water) Feb 19 – Fertilize orchid March 5 - Leach orchid with clear tepid unfertilized Room temp water March 19 - Fertilize orchid Apr 2 – Fertilize orchid Apr 16 – Leach orchid They say that orchids should be kept moist but not wet as wet will rot he roots.

Aerial roots are common on orchids and some species of orchids grow more of these aerial roots than others. These aerial roots gather moisture from the air for the plant and should never be cut off.

I hope this helps


Subject: RE: A new orchid
From: Sunny
Date: 15-Feb-07 05:28 PM EST

Thanks Diane! I will try moving her out of the bathroom. She's gamely attempting to swell new buds. She does have a tiny bit of red in the leaves, and I see your point about the humidity fluctuations.Good ol''s always a "next year" thing.

Subject: RE: A new orchid
From: Rita (
Zone: 5b
Date: 17-Feb-07 03:26 PM EST

Hi all.. I finally succumbed and bought myself an orchid (phalaenopsis) and am wondering if I should use tap water or distilled water for watering. It's so beautiful I would hate to lose it,I have it in an east facing window but am also concerned about the lack of humidity what with the central heat being on during these cold winter months. Also can anyone recommend some good orchid books..Thanks Rita.

Subject: RE: A new orchid
From: Ann
Zone: 8b
Date: 13-Mar-07 04:30 PM EST

I just purchased an orchid from a nusery. She has big white flowers and purple dots through out the petals. Currently she is on my desk in my office and I think she is doing okay. I move her to another office window on the weekends for some sunlight. I have been watering her 1-2 week, only when I notice that shes a little dry. And using tap water that has set for a least 4 hours. I was told not to repot her until she is done blooming so not to stress the plant out. All the blooms are just about open expcet for two small ones at the top of her stem. Anyone have any adivce. Being that this is my first orchid.

Subject: RE: A new orchid
From: Diane
Date: 13-Mar-07 08:34 PM EST

Hi Ann Your orchid sounds absolutely beautiful. What kind of orchid is it that you have?

I am wondering why you would want to repot your orchid? If you have just bought this plant it should not need to be repotted unless the nursery has told you otherwise when you bought the plant.

Note: “Repot when medium starts to decompose. Check yearly, on newly purchased plants or if leaves are limp.”

Make sure you don’t just water but fertilized as well, orchids unlike other house plants need to be fertilized on a regular basis. I have posted a scenario above for reference on fertilizing.

I bought my orchid last Oct (5 months) and it’s still blooming!!! The original flowers that were on the plant fell off and it grew more buds that are now open ,, it’s beautiful!! I didn’t realize that the orchid would bloom for that long but it’s still blooming and growing more buds!!!

Hope your orchid does well


P.S. Sunny how is your orchid doing?

Subject: RE: A new orchid
From: Jane
Zone: 6a
Date: 04-Apr-07 05:41 PM EST

I've had my orchid in a south facing bathroom window (glass block)since January. It was doing fine, then all the blooms dropped. It sounds like the bathroom isn't the right place, and that it should be moved to an east window with more constant humidity. Questions: Should I cut off the stalk? Repot? It has approx. 2" of dead looking root extending from one of the drainage holes in the pot. It's growing a new leaf and root from the base of the crown. Thanks in advance for any advice!

Subject: RE: A new orchid
From: Gerry King
Zone: 3
Date: 06-Apr-07 09:03 AM EST

Here is an article I wrote for the Prairie Gardener last year. I think it will help you.

Detailed Phalaenopsis Growing Instructions

By Gerry King from EverSpring Orchids

“Why would anyone spend the time on trying to coax an orchid to grow? Never mind getting it to bloom. They are so fussy and difficult to grow.” Those were my very thoughts after I spent twenty five dollars on a tiny orchid seedling only to see it wither and die a few months later! That was over ten years ago. Today I have a greenhouse full of blooming orchids and just love the challenge of getting even the most stubborn orchid to reveal its beauty with a stunning display of inflorescence.

There has always been a certain ‘mystique’ attached to the orchid. When orchids were first brought back from the New World to European plant collectors, it resulted in orchid frenzy. Many orchid hunters and collectors lost their lives looking for new and unusual orchids to satisfy the cravings of wealthy European orchid hobbyists. Of course there is the persistent story concerning the infamous searches for the elusive black orchid which really doesn’t exist, in the wild that is.

The mystique surrounding orchids could discourage one from ever trying to grow and flower this beautiful plant. Fortunately this is just a myth. Most orchids are not that difficult to grow. If one can grow African Violets, Boston Ferns, or other care free houseplants, then orchids should fit into the same environment.

The best orchid for a novice grower to try is the Phalaenopsis, otherwise known as a Phal or Moth Orchid. The flower colours vary from pure white to almost black. There is no other orchid flower in existence that carries the variety of colours and textures of the Phalaenopsis. Several varieties have amazing fragrances. An extra bonus is the incredible longevity of the flowers. The flower spike will often stay in bloom for up to six months Phalaenopsis hybrids have flowers that range in size from ¾" to nearly 5" in diameter. The mystery and beauty of a blooming orchid is very intriguing. These attributes have made phalaenopsis orchids the second most popular potted plant sold in North America.

Phalaenopsis orchids enjoy a spot near or in a bright window. An east window is the best. A west facing window is good, just watch for hot direct sun which could scorch the leaves. In the winter months or if the window is shaded by a curtain or by trees, a southern exposure is okay. You can grow Phals under fluorescent lights placed approximately 1 foot above the plant. Time your lights to simulate normal day length. Limiting light levels to 1,000 - 1,500 foot candles will provide ideal light levels.

Phalaenopsis do well in temperatures between 18° and 27° C. For optimum growing try to maintain 18° at night and between 22° and 27° during the day. Temperatures in excess of 30° can slow growth. Cool night time temperatures in autumn encourage flower spike initiation. Try adding a pinch of Epsom salts to your watering regimen at this time. This often triggers flower spikes in stubborn plants. Once the flower spike is developed, avoid wide swings in temperature as this can cause unopened buds to drop off.

Phalaenopsis benefit from moderate humidity levels. Ideal levels range between 50 and 75% relative humidity. In a heated home you will want to set your plants on a humidity tray, a shallow tray filled with gravel and water. This should help to keep the humidity near your orchid at acceptable levels. Make sure that the plants roots are NOT sitting in water.

Proper watering of Phalaenopsis is very important. Phals do not like to be dry to the point of wilting. Evenly moist is the ideal environment for Phalaenopsis roots to flourish. They should be watered thoroughly and then not again until the media is nearly, but not completely, dry.

How often you water will depend on the type of media used and its growing environment. Begin by watering your orchid approximately once per week. The weight of the pot can tell you if your plant needs to be watered. Stick your finger into the medium periodically and if it is dry, make a mental note of the weight. After a few weeks, you can adjust the watering schedule by the weight of the pot alone. Be careful not to let water settle in the crown of the plant where new leaves form and avoid spraying or accumulating water on the flowers as this will damage them.

During the active growing period of the orchid, use a fertilizer with equal proportions of N(Nitrogen)-P(Phosphorous)-K(Potash) - for example 14-14-14. In September, blossom booster fertilizer such as 10-30-20 is recommended. Apply fertilizers with every second watering at 1/4 the recommended strength. This dilute solution prevents burning of roots and leaves.

Phalaenopsis need to be re-potted about once a year. There are several reasons for re-potting your orchid. It may have outgrown its current container, the media has decomposed and is no longer aerated well enough to maintain healthy roots, or the roots may have rotted. Remove the plant from its container and let the old media fall away and carefully trim away any rotting or dead roots. Use a pot that just allows the root ball to fit in. Position the plant in the new container and pour in the new potting media, letting it settle around the roots. Orchid potting media must provide air space at the roots. Acceptable media includes a fir bark mix containing sponge rock and charcoal or other similar materials. If you use bark, ensure that you soak it at least overnight and use only the floating bark in your mix. New Zealand sphagnum moss allows the development of healthy and vigorous root systems and is the media of choice for many growers. After re-potting resume your normal watering and fertilizing schedule.

Phalaenopsis Orchids should be regularly monitored for aphids, mealy bugs, mites, scale, and slugs. Scale is one of the most common pests of Phals and can be removed with a soft cloth and soapy water or a cotton swab soaked in isopropyl alcohol. Cinnamon (a natural fungicide), Safers Soap, and Isopropyl alcohol are excellent natural remedies to keep in your orchid medicine chest. If you choose to use a commercial pest control product, be sure to carefully follow all label instructions

If your Phalaenopsis orchids are healthy, you can often urge a second flowering from each spike with a timely pruning. When the last flower on the spike fades, examine the spike for small fleshy bumps or nodes. From the base of the spike, count out 3 nodes and cut the spike just above the third node. If your plant is healthy and the season is not too late, this process will wake up one or two of the nodes and in a few short weeks, it may produce a few more fresh blooms. Keeps the flower spike facing towards the light source for more visual impact. After the flower spike dries up, cut it off about 1 inch from the base of the plant.

When purchasing an orchid, look for strong, healthy leaves, some unopened flower buds, and be sure to inspect it for insects or insect damage. It is important to purchase your orchid from a reputable orchid grower. Purchasing a Phalaenopsis from retail chains and hardware stores often means the plant has been subjected to a poor growing environment which is not a healthy start for your plant. An orchid vendor will be able to help you with your questions and be able to give you advice.

These guidelines and suggestions will make your phalaenopsis orchids bloom and grow for years to come. Phalaenopsis orchids blooming on your windowsill during a cold February day is truly one of life’s simple pleasures.

Subject: Orchids
From: Sunny
Date: 09-Apr-07 07:48 AM EST

Diane, thanks for asking! My new orchid is dropping its buds one by one, same as all my others have done. No matter where I put it or what I do to it. I envy the lady whose WalMart orchid is thriving! The one I left at my friend's house got frost, when she closed off her lav. in -25 temps. I'll try the pruning suggestion, altho' the bottome 3 buds are pretty far along the stem now, since so many have fallen off. If this one its suicide mission, I'll perform euthanasia.

Subject: RE: A new orchid
From: Jane
Date: 10-Apr-07 03:30 PM EST

Gerry, thank you for the comprehensive article! I'm pretty sure I underwatered it, and I also found a few bug webs on closer inspection. I've cleaned it up and now it's wait and see. Thanks again.

And thanks for your watering and fertilizing tips, Diane.

Subject: RE: A new orchid
From: Diane
Date: 10-Apr-07 09:42 PM EST

Your welcome Jane.

I would also like to Thank Gerry for his very informative article on orchids. I have learned infortant things I needed to know.


Subject: RE: A new orchid
From: Barb (
Zone: 4b
Date: 13-Apr-07 08:07 PM EST

Hi Sunny: I've just read through everything, and we all have various ways of growing orchids. Even if it does drop all flowers/buds, don't throw it away.I've grown orchids for several years in an east window in a room that gets quite cool at night in winter (the cool winter nights is my challenge). I water when the pot is is light in weight and use warm tap water (on a well, so no chlorine).I fertilize with 20-20-20 every second watering when plant is growing. I also have a fan going because the living room has two very large windows, and the air gets quite warm and stale when the sun shines. I started putting the plants outside when weather was ok. They are on shelves under an open-sided gazebo, get morning and very late afternoon sun. This winter they all put out two spikes. I've lost buds when the plants are wet and cold. Keep the plant growing on this summer-put it out if you can-and you should get flowers next year. Once you learn what works with these starter plants, you'll be on your way to a collection.

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