Phalaenopsis "Secrets" including (re)blooming.
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  #1  
Old 11-02-2008, 03:43 PM
savor savor is offline
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Phalaenopsis &quot;Secrets&quot; including (re)blooming. Male
Default Phalaenopsis "Secrets" including (re)blooming.

These are not secrets if you already know them. The Phalaenopsis orchid originates among the the islands of the Phillipines. They are prompted to bloom by the natural cycles of the seasonal monsoons. We can simulate the effects of these monsoons. It is easiest do this in the spring and fall when we have night time low temps about 45 to 50 degrees and daytime temp is less than 70 (A daytime temp above 80 inhibits flowers.). What we actually need is a 15 to 20 degree drop from day to night. To simulate the effect of the rains we use a drench (1 teaspoon of epsom salt per gallon water). Pour enough to fill the pot so that it runs out the bottom for a couple of seconds. Do this once and then again one week later. The solution will leach almost all nutrients from the roots and growing media (bark mix). The heavy rains in the Phillipines have the same effect. After the rains come cool winds for about a month. So one week later, we place them where the temp can fluctuate by 15 to 20 degrees. Be careful not to let the phals be exposed to temperatures less than 45. (At 32 degrees they freeze and all you will have left is a green gel and some roots.) After 21 consecutive days of these cool nights, every phal will send up flower 'spikes' (inflorescences).
To ensure healthy size and many flowers, fertilize your orchids regularly during the summer. If it is a balanced general fertilizer with 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 compostion, use 1/4 of the recommended rate (if 1 teaspoon is called for per gallon water, cut it to 1/4 tsp). The old adage fertilize 'weakly... weekly' is great. If the fertilizer was made specifically for orchids do follow the label directions. Most orchids in a typical home need water about once a week.
Please be aware that the number one reason orchids die is due to over watering. If left constantly wet, both the bark mix and the roots will rot. By the time the leaves show signs, it may be too late to save the roots or the orchid. I suggest that you use what I refer to as a "water-o-meter". This is simply a wooden BBQ skewer or old pencil that is pushed deep in the potting material. Leave it there. When you think the orchid needs water, pull it out. I place it on my cheek. If it is cool and wet, just donít water yet. Wait until it is slightly damp and beginning to dry out. However a phal has no water storage pseudobulb like other orchids. If the stick becomes bone dry the orchid has already started to pull upon the small amount of water in the leaves. After 3 days of being completely dry, the affect may be severe and the phal may later expire. In a typical home it takes an orchid about two weeks to reach that point.
Small or young orchids are often sold planted in sphagnum moss. When the phal has 3 pairs of leaves or is in a 4 inch pot consider switching to a regular bark mix or semi hydro ceramic pellets. Semi hydro can be covered separately. The organic sphagnum and the bark mix decompose after 6 months to a year. With it goes the roots! Therefore the condition inside the pot must be monitored or simply replaced on a yearly basis. The bark may become spongy to the touch or breaks up. If so, replace it.

*A summer growing season is essential to great and plentiful blooms. The flower spike (inflorescence) is clipped back to one node above where it emerged. That node is a natural barrier to stop infection. Temperatures above 80 degrees inhibit flower spikes. So growers maintain phals at*a target of 83 degrees. The summer is spent growing big thick medium green leaves and a healthy root system. With all of this stored up energy, they are just waiting for that monsoon.
Orchids R Easy!
Hello my name is Lee
and I'm an Orchid Addict...

p.s. Due to the economy, I must take down my 1000 sq. ft. greenhoouse. The GH and most of it's orchids are for sale at Home Page Consider giving one of my favorites a new home.
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  #2  
Old 11-02-2008, 03:50 PM
JennS JennS is offline
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Wow! Great info here. Thanks for posting that!
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  #3  
Old 11-02-2008, 07:13 PM
Brooke Brooke is offline
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There is some great info above but some additional information needs to be included.

Not all phals bloom in the fall/winter but are spring/summer bloomers. The trigger for them to bloom is a warm up in the temperatures, particularly warm nights.

Very few phals want temps below 60 degrees and some don't want to go below 65. A few species, chibae, hongenensis, hainanensis, parishii and lobbii can take lower temps and then go deciduous. It is better to never let them go deciduous. Temps above 90 for an extended period of time and phals (as do most orchids) shut down until the temps fall below that temp.

The fall/winter blooming phals initiate spikes with a night time differential which is easily accomplished on a windowsill. They really don't want to be chilled. Temps below 50 can cause permanent cell damage.

Many species should not have their spikes cut off unless they dry up. You are losing some of next years blooms. If they turn brown, cut them down. Many species initiate two (or more) new spikes per year. There is nothing prettier than a phal with multiple spikes blooming.

Here is Phal. violacea var. alba blooming on four spikes with a fifth spike hidden.



Here is Phal. javanica with four spikes.



Lee is correct, orchids are easy when you study the origin of the species and what they want and when they want it. Sorry you are having to close your g/h.

Brooke
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  #4  
Old 11-02-2008, 10:22 PM
savor savor is offline
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Phalaenopsis &quot;Secrets&quot; including (re)blooming. Male
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<This may be more than a beginner topic now>
I agree with you Brooke that some Phals don't fit the method I described. I stand corrected. I should have differentiated between the complex hybrids and the species.
If one uses cool induction to initiate the formation of inflorescences and also prefers the lowest temp raised to 60 degrees, the daytime or high temp will need to be 15 to 20 degrees higher. That temp will now need to be 75 to 80 degrees. This range is too close to the temperature that inhibits blooming. Commercial orchid growers hold Phal crops of blooming size plants at 83 degrees until they are ready to fill orders. Then the plants are moved into a cool house to provide blooming Phals anytime of the year.
So we have a common Phal such as sold in many greenhouses or retail outlets. When the blooms fade away the spike will remain green perhaps all year. The Phal will sprout a secondary spike off the first spike which will usually be shorter and have fewer smaller blooms. This allows a second blooming sometimes sooner. For some orchid lovers bigger is not necessarily better. One might note that in nature there is not someone standing by to cut off the inflorescence after the Phal finishes the first round of blooms.
However most show exhibitors and growers trim the spikes back to the first node and let the orchid spend its energy growing healthy roots and leaves. They look for spikes to emerge from the base or at the 4th leaf pair down from the crown of the Phal. There is where the most robust spike will rise, often two spikes. It will produce the largest and most numerous blooms.
I have many of the fragrant species of Phalaenopsis. Cool induction is not neccesary as they are mostly sequential bloomers. They are more delicate. So long as they are healthy, the blooms will continue almost all year. I gave begun to cross the fragrant species with the complex hybrids. I have two crosses in the works. Time will tell.
Lee in SC
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  #5  
Old 11-03-2008, 08:41 AM
Brooke Brooke is offline
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For more information on spike initiation and temps required the March 2007 AOS Orchid magazine, page 184 in the article entitled GROWING THE BEST PHALAENOPSIS, Part 3: Temperature and Light Requirements, Height, Insect and Disease Control written by Roberto Lopez, Erik Runkle, PhD, Yin-Tung Wang, PhD, Matthew Blanchard and Tony Hsu

Also for additional information the book PHALAENOPSIS A MONOGRAPH author Eric A. Christenson pages 262 and 263

In a nutshell, the AOS article states the warmth needed year round for a phal to grow, spike and bloom can be accomplished kept at a steady 77 degrees. It also states that temps below 50 or large or rapid fluctuations in temps and they can suffer from chilling injury. These tests were done on standard phals and not focused on species or primary hybrids.

Mr. Christensen's book states a temperature of 62 as a nighttime low except for the deciduous tribe but even they don't want to go below 52. He gives the nighttime differential to be 10-15 degrees but the new study referenced in the article above appears to change this view.

I think this is a great beginner discussion to help anyone have the best success with phalaenopsis.

Brooke
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  #6  
Old 11-03-2008, 09:20 AM
LinhT LinhT is offline
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Brooke and Lee,
I have a question regarding the typical hybrid Phals. I know they don't really need any type of "rest" period but is there a minimum amount of time they need to focus on growing leaves?? It seems I don't have a lot of leaf growth on mine because they only spend about 2 months really doing this. During this time the leaves grow fine but it never has enough time to grow more than 1 or 2 leaves between blooming. Once they are in bloom, the flowers stay for around 4 to 6 months. During this time, leaf growth seems to slow down quite a bit, almost halting. I always cut the spike no later than 6 months whether or not the blooms are spent so my plant can grow again! 2 months later they spike again and once more, leaf growth slows down. None of my my hybrid Phals are as "leafy" as other OB'ers here. Is this bad for the overall health of the plant in the long run??
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  #7  
Old 11-03-2008, 10:39 AM
savor savor is offline
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Hi Tracy,
Sounds like you are successful! You are getting blooms two months later. Sounds great.
Generally speaking 'happy' orchids put their energy into growing roots and leaves. Once they begin blooming much of the plants energy is spent building and maintaining the spike and blooms.
Phals are usually happy with muted filtered light. Place a piece of white copy paper where the plant sits. Hold your hand about a foot above the paper. The shadow of your hand during the middle of the brightest part of the day should have a soft or indistinct edge.
I look for my hybrids to have medium green leaves. Dark green means it could take more light. Likewise light green means it may be getting too much light.
Some hybrids can have leaves that are about 8 x 2 inches, others growing next to them may have 18 x 4 inch leaves. That is likely be due to their parentage, their lineage. If you have a tag on the orchid, you can look up it's family tree. I've found that many orchids have maybe 16 steps dating back to the early 1900s. "Oh, no wonder... looks like his grandmaother on the father's side"
I'd say with the results you are getting... bravo!
~enjoy,
Lee

Check out the collection of orchids I am selling.
Home Page
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  #8  
Old 11-03-2008, 02:04 PM
Brooke Brooke is offline
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Tracy the number of leaves on a plant is determined by genetics. Don't worry about the number of leaves as compared to others. If you have growing leaves, good root growth and is long blooming, your culture is excellent. Enjoy the blooms :>)

Brooke
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  #9  
Old 11-03-2008, 07:29 PM
LinhT LinhT is offline
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Thanks a bunch, Lee and Brooke, for all the helpful info.

I never knew the number of leaves was determined by genetics....that's very interesting

Last edited by LinhT; 11-03-2008 at 11:08 PM..
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