How to Make Your Orchid Last
From the time the first bud opens to when the last flower falls off, a moth (phalaenopsis) orchid can be in bloom for three months or more! Wondering how to make your orchid last even longer? The first, and most important thing is to make sure the conditions are suited to your orchid. If it’s struggling to survive, you can’t expect it to look as good as if it was nestled in an environment it likes.
Humidity: First take a look at the amount of moisture in the air. Moth orchids appreciate at least 50 percent relative humidity. If your home doesn’t have that, don’t worry. It can be pretty easy to boost humidity.
--- Give your moth orchid some friends; plants naturally add moisture to the air as a part of their breathing process. --- Grouping two or three other houseplants with your orchid helps create a miniature tropical environment.
---Placing a small humidifier near your orchid also creates a pocket of humid air your plant with love.
Another classic way to up humidity is to get a bowl or tray and fill it with pebbles or gravel. Add water so just the tops of the rocks are dry, and set your plant on top of them. As the water evaporates, it goes into the air around your moth orchid.
Natural Light: Happily, most moth orchids grow in the shade of tropical rainforests and don’t need full sun. A moth orchid will thrive in the average east- or west-facing window. If you only have a sunny south-facing window, a sheer cloth to diffuse the light works nicely.
Artificial Light: Don’t have a window handy? You’re still in luck! The plants don’t mind artificial light --- though they’ll do best if they’re situated a foot or two from fluorescent light bulbs. If there are lots of bulbs, like in an office setting, they don’t need to be that close.
Temperature: The good news is that moth orchids like the same temperatures we do: Between 70 and 80F (21 to 27C) during the day and 60 to 70F (15 to 21C) at night. If daytime temperatures are consistently over 85F (30C), the flowers won’t last as long.
Watering: “How much should I water my orchid” is one of the most common questions we hear about growing moth orchids. To keep the flowers at their best, let the orchid’s potting mix dry out a little between waterings. Depending on temperature, humidity, and light levels, that may be once a week or so in summer.
Moth orchids are amazingly tolerant of inconsistent watering; they can survive a few weeks without water (but the flowers won’t last as long in these situations).
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Shopping for Orchids
When shopping for an orchid, look for as many closed buds as possible to make the bloom show last as long as possible. A lot of people want to buy the orchid that has the most open flowers, but the one with fewer open flowers and more buds will go the distance.
Bringing Your Orchid Home
When it comes to transporting your new orchid home, think of it like a pet: You don’t want to leave it to bake in a hot car in summer or freeze in a cold car if you have other errands to run between the store and home. The type of stress that can come from being exposed to a few minutes of extreme temperatures can shorten the lifespan of the flowers.
Getting Your Orchid to Bloom Again
Moth orchids naturally bloom once a year, usually in winter. This is because cool temperatures at night 52-58F (12-14C) help signal a change in the orchid’s chemistry and makes it start to form its flower spike. Until your moth orchid is exposed to those cool temperatures again, be sure it gets consistent light. Fertilizing regularly during the spring and summer months can also help.
How do you fertilize an orchid? The easiest way is to water with a general-purpose houseplant fertilizer mixed at 10 percent (one part fertilizer to 10 parts water). You can also use fertilizers formulated specially for orchids; apply those at the rates recommended on the packaging.
We love to talk to other gardeners. Email us your orchid questions and we'll have one of our experts get back to you with an answers! In the meantime, check out our free Orchids Are Easy Idea Book for tips and inspiration!
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