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A Quick guide to Phalaenopsis
By Call_Me_Bob at 2010-10-25 02:53
Let me first say that I am, by no mean, and expert. There are exceptions

Phalaenopsis are the most common orchid. They can be found in upscale flower and gardening shops, as well as in most grocery stores. Contrary to popular belief, with the proper care, Phalaenopsis can be easy to grow and to make bloom. One of the reasons for this is because the majority of Phalaenopsis are complex hybrids, produced by extensive breeding. Because of the extensive breeding, the cultural needs are more generalized and suited home culture.
A complex hybrid Phalaenopsis is any Phalaenopsis with at least one parent that is not a species. Complex hybrids respond best to day temperatures of 70* F or above and night temperatures of 60-65* F. When temperatures rise above 85* F, the humidity and air movement should be increased. To help initiate spikes, Phalaenopsis should be exposed to night temperatures of 55-60* F for a few weeks. Humidity should be kept around 55%-70%. Short periods of lower humidity are not fatal, but long periods of reduced humidity should be avoided.
Phalaenopsis ,as well as many other orchids, are epiphytes. Epiphytes are plants that live attached to trees. Phalaenopsis have thick succulent roots that allow them to cling onto the trees. The roots also have the ability to do photosynthesis. Phalaenopsis grow very differently in nature than how they are mostly commonly seen in pots, crown up. In nature, they grow clinging to trees with their crown down. Since no water can get into the crown this way, there is little chance of crown rot.

Since Phalaenopsis are epiphytes, their exposed roots are subject to dry out between the those frequent rains of the tropics. There are many different mixes used for Phalaenopsis. Choosing the proper mix depends greatly on your growing environment. I grow most of my Phalaenopsis in a mixture of medium grade bark and medium grade charcoal. The bark holds water but does not stay soggy. The charcoal provides good drainage to the mix and has the ability to adsorb some toxins and acids.
Phalaenopsis should be watered just before the mix goes completely dry. If not allowed to dry out almost completely between watering, it will develop root rot. Phalaenopsis benefit from weak fertilizer at every watering. Its best to use only half of what the instructions say. Its always better to over-dilute than under-dilute, as too much fertilizer will burn the roots. Its also a good idea to run plain water through the pot before fertilizing.
Phalaenopsis are well suited for windowsill growing. An east window is desirable, but a north window will also work. Early morning sun is beneficial for good growth, but midday sun and hot afternoon sun can burn and scorch the leaves. To protect them, shear curtains can be used to filter the noonday light and prevent heat from building up on the leaves and damaging them. By touching the leaves at the peak light and heat hours of the day, you can tell if the leaves are in danger of burning. If the leaves are cool to the touch, they are fine. If however, they are warm to the touch, they are in danger of burning.

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