Orchid: cultivation, maintenance, watering and flowering

We designate by the term Orchids near 26,000 species of plants distributed in more than 850 genres. This is to say if the family of Orchidaceae is huge. The needs as well as the cultivation methods therefore vary considerably from one orchid to another, these plants coming from very diverse regions of the world in terms of climate and soil, even if we meet the majority of species in the tropical areas. Orchid lovers who do not have a great deal of experience in the field can however indulge themselves by cultivating horticultural hybrids. For example, the most famous genre is undoubtedly Phalaenopsis. It has about sixty species and several thousand hybrids. So let’s see how to maintain this type ofbutterfly orchid.

Growing the Orchid (Phalaenopsis)

The orchids of the genus Phalaenopsis, which is also designated by this term, are epiphytic plants, that is to say that in nature they develop on other plants without deriving their food from their host. They are therefore not parasitic plants.

Phalaenopsis are greenhouse orchids that we can therefore raise as indoor plants. They need a temperature between 18 and 25 ° C during the day and 14 to 21 ° C at night. In summer, they even withstand slightly higher daytime temperatures, up to 28 ° C. The light their is absolutely essential and she must be important. But Phalaenopsis cannot stand direct sun between late morning and mid-afternoon, that is, in the hottest hours from May to September at least.

At home, we therefore install a Phalaenopsis preferably in the North, in front of a large glass surface. Apart from the north orientation, the plant must be moved away from the window or bay window without depriving it of light. Indeed, the brightness must be consistent for the butterfly orchid to bloom.

Maintenance of the Butterfly Orchid or Phalaenopsis

This magnificent plant is easy to maintain, this is the reason why it is among the orchids adapted to amateurs, even the most inexperienced.

Dust off the leaves

It is necessary to clean the leaves of this plant with a microfiber cloth as it does not lint and is particularly soft. This is essential so that dust does not accumulate. In order to avoid injuring the leaves, they must be held from below during this beauty session.


The staking is almost unmissable when the flower stalks start to form because if they are made up of many large flowers, they become heavy. We must therefore maintain them by pricking a stake in the substrate so that it is as close as possible to the stem. This must then be attached to the tutor with a few not too tight ties.

But beware: installing the tutor is only possible when the buttons have not yet hatched. Afterwards, it is too late to intervene because this would reverse the position of the flowers already open and undoubtedly lead to their early wilting.


In the wild, the Phalaenopsis collects rainwater through its aerial roots. It therefore does not need sustained watering. Besides, it tends to withstand drought better than excess water that makes it rot. Grown at home, this orchid is satisfied with one irrigation per week. To do this, wet the root ball well (the ideal being to use rain water at room temperature or, failing that, non-calcareous water) then allow all the water to drain, leaving the pot for example in the sink. Water should never be left at the bottom of the flowerpot.

The maid frequency of watering of a Phalaenopsis is twice a week if the room temperature is around 25 ° C and only once a week if it is around 20 ° C.

We must take care of never wet the collar and prevent water from accumulating in the axils of the leaves as this causes serious rot problems against which there is unfortunately not much to do to save an orchid.


Once every two weeks, we take care to provide our orchids with a perfectly balanced NPK-type fertilizer, to be diluted in the irrigation water. Contributions are reduced in winter when the plant benefits from less light.

A low nitrogen fertilizer is on the other hand preferable if the Phalaenopsis is having trouble flowering. The contributions are then to be made between the end of June and the end of October.

We find in some garden centers a foliar fertilizer for orchids. It vaporizes as it is on the dusted leaves.


The Phalaenopsis thrives in a jar small, which includes multiple drainage holes as well as a raised bottom to avoid any risk of water retention detrimental to the roots. A container is preferably chosen transparent in order to be able to monitor the good health of the roots and that of the substrate.

It is advisable to proceed to repotting every 2 to 3 years or else unconditionally if the plant is not centered in the pot and risks tipping over or even when the substrate has suffered degradation. We fill the new pot with a medium grain size substrate, specially adapted to Phalaenopsis, which may contain for example:

  • Of pine bark,
  • A little of sphagnum (Sphagnum),
  • A tiny handful of peat,
  • Of expanded polystyrene in pieces.

The best time to repot the Phalaenopsis orchid is spring, although this can still be done during the summer, but always on condition that the plant is neither in buds nor in flower.

Parasites and diseases

What we can fear most with orchids, is the invasion of mealybugs, whether they are shell mealybugs or some mealybugs. These parasites settle on the back and axils of leaves, on stems, and even on flowers. It is absolutely necessary to eliminate them because without any intervention, the orchid will eventually die. We remove the mealybugs manually with a gauze or a cotton swab that we have taken care to soak withalcohol at 90. In parallel, it is necessary to obtain a insecticide against mealybugs which is vaporized all parts of the affected plant.

Apart from the scourge represented by cochineals, Phalaenopsis are orchids that are not very susceptible to diseases except for bacterial rot which attacks the stem as well as the collar. There is no solution to eradicate it. The plant is therefore doomed to rapid death.

Flowering of Phalaenopsis (butterfly orchid)

The Phalaenopsis has leathery leaves and aerial fleshy roots. Every inflorescence counts between 5 and 12 flowers, sometimes more but it is quite rare, and is carried by a flower stalk which emerges from the tuft of leaves. From the base of the stem to the tip of the inflorescence, the height can reach 70 cm. All colors are possible, from plain to two-tone, and the flowers can also be streaked or adorned with spots, sometimes appearing to have been decorated by hand by an artist. The lip has a different color from that of the other petals.

Orchids of this genus are frequently seen blooming in the spring, but there is not really seasonality well marked in terms of flowering and Phalaenopsis do not experience a period of vegetative rest. They can therefore be seen blooming at any time of the year, for at least three months. This is a minimum because a flower stalk can last more than 7 to 8 months.

No sooner is it wilted than the stem branches out to form new flowers or a new stem develops at the base of the plant to bloom in turn. In some cases, you have to wait several months before you can admire new flowers. However, in order for a Phalaenopsis to flower, all the conditions really need to be met, and the plant must be perfectly healthy, and it can be given a boost by giving it lots of light in winter, l ‘fertilizer regularly, banishing excess water and imposing temperature variations of at least 5 to 6 ° C between day and night for some time.

When the flowers of this orchid are faded, the stem does not necessarily have to be cut, unlike what is recommended for most other species. In the Phalaenopsis, from one or more nodes on a stem which has already flowered, new flower stalks can develop. We can therefore be satisfied with cut the stem under the deflowered flowers, at the second or third node (counting from the base of the stem). Sometimes it only takes a few weeks to see the orchid bloom again. Specialists advise cut only dry stems, and those which have already bloomed twice in succession.

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