The Phalaenopsis orchid is part of a vast family of flowering plants, there are over 30,000 species, we are talking about an ancient plant, already known in the times of the Greeks and Romans, following the great geographical discoveries, merchants and missionaries brought back to Europe from their travels the so-called tropical plants, but it was only in 1764 that the naturalist Linnaeus managed to identify about thirty species and the German Blume gave it this name, because the flower resembled a butterfly in flight.
Characteristics Phalaenopsis orchids
The Phalaenopsis orchid is certainly the most widespread, native to Southeast Asia, numerous in the rainforests of Indochina, but above all in the Indonesian islands of Borneo, in the Philippines and in northern Australia.
The orchid has always been considered by the Chinese as a plant capable of warding off harmful influences in particular sterility for this reason it was used to formulate love potions. Unlike our plants they do not live on the ground, but cling to the branches of trees, this is because thanks to the humidity of the tropics for many plants it is possible to live through the "aerial roots", which can sink into the mosses or lichens that cover the branches, as well as absorbing atmospheric moisture.
It is a plant that also survives on rocks, usually has 2 or 6 large and fleshy leaves of an intense green color, arranged very closely together.
The leaves are the only organ of the plant, capable of storing water as it is devoid of pseudobulbs.
The roots are large, branched and numerous and it is thanks to these that the plant is able to adhere to the substrate, the flowers are supported by thin and rigid stems of variable length.
Orchids in the apartment
This orchid loves the warm climate with temperatures ranging from a minimum of 17 degrees to a maximum of 24 degrees, loves airy environments, preferably those with a humidity of 70%, but beware of drafts. Like most houseplants, it loves abundant but not direct light, however the lack or scarcity of this is a major cause of non-flowering. The soil must leave ample space for air to circulate, in order to allow the roots to breathe. You can use a ready-made soil specific for orchids, easily available, or use a good compound formed by beech bark mixed with polystyrene, sphagnum peat, pieces of cork, foam that will favor the right humidity. Important is the drainage, because the Phalaenopsis orchid does not like water stagnation, therefore it is necessary to favor the rapid draining of the waterings, and if necessary to make other holes in the lower part of the pot. We recommend a transparent pot that allows the roots to be exposed to the sun, this will promote the photosynthetic activity even at the root level, and will also allow you to better control the plant in case it needs watering, especially if you notice that the roots do not appear of a intense green color, it can be a sign that the plant needs water. It is important that the jar is washed with soap and water before being used, then disinfected with alcohol or bleach. These orchids love to have constantly humid roots, usually two waterings a week in summer and one in winter are enough, obviously these precautions vary from case to case.
Some practical tips to follow:
It is advisable to water in the morning, in the hot hours so that the leaves remain dry for the evening and above all pay attention so that there is no stagnation of water in the pot or between the interstices of the leaves.
They love humid air, it is good to spray the leaves once a day, another precaution is to equip the radiators with humidifiers to try to make the air in the room less dry.
In spring, during the vegetative restart, the plant is fertilized every fifteen days, with a fertilizer rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, while in autumn, the preferred season for flowering, a compound rich in phosphorus and potassium should be administered.
The fertilizer will be dissolved in water and administered after wetting the substrate, to prevent excessive salt concentration from occurring.
Flowering usually occurs in the winter months between December and April, this does not mean that if the plant finds optimal conditions of light, humidity and temperature, it can bloom even two or three times a year, with persistent flowers for several weeks, even the its cut flowers last a long time.
When the flowers are dry it is advisable not to cut the stem, because new lateral branches can grow from it, they can flourish again or Keiki, or nodules that form on the stem and which will in practice constitute a new plant.
How and when to repot the plant
Only in three cases does the plant need to be repotted, that is
- When the plant has overgrown and the pot is small.
- When the substrate is rotting or is consumed so much that it is no longer draining.
- When it is infested with parasites or molds.
Generally the preferred period for repotting is after flowering, starting with washing the substrate well, in order to make the roots more elastic so as not to break them, they too must be washed to clean them of the material, if there are dead parts they will go removed with shears which must always be disinfected first, subsequently, the cut parts will be treated with fungicidal powders.
If the roots, following a long stay in a too small pot, have difficulty coming out, to avoid breaking them it is good to immerse the pot for about thirty minutes in just warm water.
The Phalaenopsis orchid is very sensitive to diseases, which are often favored by a wrong cultivation technique, they are divided into:
- Not parasitic,
Among the former, the plant can be infested by Cochineal or Aphids which, in addition to doing direct damage, are vehicles of numerous viruses, while non-parasitic ones are visible, such as leaf fall, stunting, non-flowering or burn of the leaves.
Pruning is not always recommended on a plant that grows well, but if you want to do it make sure you use disinfected and sterilized shears, better disposable ones.
Pruning is generally carried out after the second knot, but it can also be practiced at the base, at which point it will be advisable to use a mastic on the wound that allows to speed up healing, avoiding infections and favoring new shoots and therefore new flowering.
If your Phalaenopsis orchid is particularly flourishing, you can participate in flower contests that with worldwide judgment methods, after viewing the plant, will assign scores according to the characteristics and qualities of the plant on display.
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