Usually, the most common orchids on your windowsill are Phalaenopsis hybrid orchids (Moth orchids). They have beautiful butterfly-shaped long lasting flowers, and there are countless hybrids with different flower shape, color, texture, and even there are some cultivars with variegated leaves. Phalaenopsis (Phal) plants are typical monopodial orchids with shortened stem. Phal orchid care, if you grow common hybrids, is simple. All Phalaenopsis hybrids prefer warm growing conditions with no dormancy. It is difficult to find an orchid more suitable for room cultivation because they need stable temperature and watering, tolerate a wide range of light intensity and have an incredibly long blooming period. Some of them can bloom for several years without interruption if they grow in good conditions.
However, species of Phalaenopsis is another question. Some of them, such as Phalaenopsis amabilis (a major part of most Phalaenopsis hybrids) are not different too much from common Phalaenopsis hybrids, but Phalaenopsis parishii, Phalaenopsis gibbosa, Phalaenopsis equestris and some related species indeed have dormancy and they can even shed their leaves, when they are dormant.
If you ask about how to care for Phal hybrid orchids indoors – the answer is no overwatering, bright direction with some sun in morning or evening (but no direct sun in midday), but they can tolerate partly shade, regular watering after potting media completely drains off, regular fertilizers weekly at summer months and monthly in winter (if you grow them with sufficient amount of sunlight).
Care for Phalaenopsis Species
Most species of Phalaenopsis grow best mounted, as there is a little chance of root rot, and it is more similar to their grooving conditions in nature. Some species (so-called Amabilis group) are similar to hybrids in their care – they are easy to grow without any experience in orchid growing, but some species (Phalaenopsis parishii, Phalaenopsis violacea, Phalaenopsis gigantea) are more difficult to grow – they are preferred to grow mounted, they need more sunlight than hybrids, and some of them require a dormancy period in winter. But if you say about hybrids, grow them potted in media. Mini Phalaenopsis orchid care is not so different from common Phalaenopsis growing, but you should consider, that they are mostly sold, potted in sphagnum, which is not the best potting medium for Phalaenopsis indoors, as its water capacity is rather big, it is hard to choose an optimal watering schedule, Phal orchids, potted in sphagnum are prone to root rot. It is best to repot them to pure bark, or grow them mounted. Because all Phalaenopsis species like high air humidity, the ideal place for them could be a bath, for example, but you should remember about lighting and other conditions.
Phalaenopsis potting medium
If you grow common hybrid Phalaenopsis orchids, you should choose well-drained and well-aerated mixtures. You can use both organic (bark) and inorganic (epiweb, lava rock, clay) potting media. There is a good rule – you should chose potting medium, which completely dries out in one week. If potting medium stays wet more than one week, it is a great chance that roots will die in anaerobic, wet conditions. One of the best mixtures is medium-sized bark with some charcoal because it is long lasting and it will not be decomposed too fast as sphagnum-based mixtures. Highly aerated Phalaenopsis roots will thrive in such conditions. If you grow Phalaenopsis in epiweb, you should water it more often and regularly fertilize (as it completely lacks needed nutrients).
Care for phalaenopsis orchids after flowering
If you are interested in what to do with orchids after they bloom – it is best to slightly reduce watering for two-three weeks and then Phalaenopsis orchid can either rebloom from old inflorescence or begin to grow. After this, you should care for your Phalaenopsis orchid as always.
Considering the fact that Phalaenopsis orchids can tolerate rather low light, you can grow them under artificial light. Due to their light requirement is about 1000-1500 foot-candles, you can easily provide such conditions for them by using fluorescent lightbulbs, so you can grow them even in dark places such as a basement or a room without windows if you provide them with artificial light.
Propagation of phalaenopsis
In specific conditions (low light, high nitrogen fertilizer, warm to hot temperature) Phalaenopsis could produce keikis at its inflorescence, stems and even roots, and some species such as Phalaenopsis lueddemanniana produce keikis without any special treatment, which gives him some Chlorophytum-like habit. After keiki produce sufficient root system, you can cut them and pot, after some time newly formed plant can bloom. There is also an artificial technique to make keikis on Phalaenopsis – with special cytokinin paste you can obtain many new plants. Due to an artificial propagation of orchids at home by seeds is a pretty difficult task, and the impossibility to reproduce monopodial orchids by a simple division of plants, using keiki becomes the best method of propagation of Phal orchids at home.