Phalaenopsis orchids are the most popular orchid in the world, thanks to a rapid increase in availability, causing equally rapid price decreases. Phalaenopsis is one genus among several popular orchid types, and it includes nearly 70 species. You can now find this type by the dozen on display across the country at affordable prices and in a wide variety of colors. According to Greenhouse Grower, the orchid has now overtaken the poinsettia as the most popular potted plant in the United States, driven largely by the popularity of the various Phalaenopsis species.
All this is possible because of advances in orchid breeding and production, mostly overseas. Producers in Taiwan and the Netherlands have perfected orchid cloning on an industrial scale, making it possible to produce hundreds of thousands of beautiful, identical plants.
Although orchid blooms can last for quite a long time, they typically bloom just once a year. Many orchids are reluctant to bloom again when grown in indoor conditions, so many people discard them after the blooms have faded and start over with new plants. However, Phalaenopsis orchids are among the easiest to coax into reblooming, though some special handling is necessary.
When to Initiate Reblooming
In native outdoor conditions, Phalaenopsis orchids are once-a-year bloomers in late spring and summer, but when grown indoors they sometimes bloom repeatedly. The process for getting a Phalaenopsis orchid to rebloom begins shortly after its previous bloom fades—whenever that may be. With the proper routine, your plant may rebloom every three to six months.
Before Getting Started
If you want your Phalaenopsis orchid to rebloom, it's important that the plant enjoys good care during its active growing and flowering season. Use the culture method that is common to most orchids: Pot it in an orchid-specific growing medium, keep it in relatively warm conditions, and offer it a good amount of light but not direct sunlight. If your plant is kept healthy through its bloom period, then you stand a good chance at getting your Phalaenopsis orchid to bloom again if you use the following routine.
Equipment / Tools
- Razorblade or sharp scissors
- Orchid fertilizer
- Plant stake and ties
Cut the Flower Spike
When the last bloom has withered or dropped off and the flower spike has begun to turn brown, snip the spike off to no more than 3 inches in height, using a sterile razor blade or sharp scissors.
Continue Watering and Feeding
Continue to grow the plant in its normal conditions—65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit in a location that is bright but not in direct sun—for several months before you try to induce new flower spikes. This period is essential for the plant to recover the energy expended through flowering, and without this rest period, additional flowers are unlikely.
Because of the unique soil-less potting mix used for orchids, you’ll probably need to water your plants two to three times a week, depending on the humidity and temperature. When you water your orchid, it’s a good idea to soak the roots but don’t let water sit between the leaves.
After you’ve watered it, empty the tray and let the plant completely dry between waterings. Contrary to what many people think, orchids do not like continuously wet environments.
If you’re aiming for reblooms, fertilization is important. You can use a liquid fertilizer at 25 percent strength, or you can do what many professional orchid growers do: Use a nylon stocking to create a little ball of controlled-release fertilizer and place that in the potting media, or just scatter a few pellets of controlled-release fertilizer in the pot.
Orchids do benefit tremendously from fertilizer, but they are not heavy feeders so don’t overfertilize them. Feeding should occur once a month with a diluted orchid fertilizer during this time.
Move to a Colder Location
Your orchid will be ready to start the rebloom cycle when it develops a new fully grown leaf after the flower spike has been trimmed off. When you spot this signal, move the plant to a location that is 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night. In the wintertime, this can often be achieved by moving the plant slightly closer to a window, though you need to take care that temperatures aren't too low.
At other times of the year, this cold stimulation can be achieved simply by taking your plant outside for a few nights when the temperatures fall into the 60s or upper 50s.
The plant should continue to get plenty of bright but indirect light during this time. This drop in temperature is critical for nudging the plant into a rebloom cycle.
Wait for a New Flower Spike
After a month or so in cool conditions, a new flower spike should appear. This flower spike typically looks a little like an upward-growing root with a knobby "mitten" on the end. If the flower spike does not appear on its own, some growers find it helpful to jolt the plant with a dose of blooming fertilizer.
Return to a Warm Location
After the new flower spike appears, you can move your orchid back to its original warmer growing location. Once it hits about 5 inches long, the flower spike should be staked and loosely tied.
Feeding can now increase to a weekly dose of weakly diluted fertilizer until the plant produces a new flower. Once the flower fades, you can once again start the process of snipping off the flower shoot and preparing the plant for yet another bloom in three to six months.
Rusnak, Paul. “Water Phalaenopsis Orchids with Ice Cubes: Myth or Fact?” Greenhousegrower.com. N.p., 2 Jan. 2019. Web.