WHEN it comes to orchids, phalaenopsis (moth orchids) are among the easiest to grow. Blooms last for several months and you can get them to rebloom without a lot of effort. Well, some folks can. I haven’t had good luck getting another bloom, and I have the shelf of non-blooming phalaenopsis to prove it. Frankly, I’m a little bit embarrassed. How do I get my orchids to bloom again?
In an effort to improve my success, I checked in with our orchid expert at Gardener’s Supply, Anita Nadeau. She helps customers in the conservatory at our Williston, VT, store. Here are her tips for getting phalaenopsis to rebloom:
Pay attention to watering and humidity. If you neglect your phalaenopsis, it will not reward you with blooms. The plants are probably growing in a free-draining blend of fir bark, so you need to water regularly. Don’t let the roots dry out completely between waterings. Most homes are quite dry during the winter, but you can increase the humidity by setting the orchid pots on a tray of pebbles or a special humidity grid. Make sure the pots are not sitting in the water; they should be just above it.
Fertilize regularly. A fertilizing routine is just as important as a watering routine. Anita recommends feeding orchids with water-soluble fertilizer that’s formulated for orchids. Mix at the rate recommended on the package.
Make sure plants get enough light—but not too much. Anita says, “When a healthy orchid does not flower, it is usually due to not enough light.” Phalaenopsis thrive in bright light, but not direct sun. This means east- or west-facing windows are best. If you can’t provide adequate natural light, orchids will also thrive under full-spectrum lights.
Provide cool nights. Most orchids thrive best when there is a marked drop in temperature at night, usually about 10 to 15 degrees F. Phalaenopsis are more forgiving in this respect, but a reluctant plant can usually be coaxed into bloom more easily if it’s grown where nights are cool.