Unknown Phalenopsis in flower.
I've already covered the topic of terrestrial orchids for the garden and now I move in to the home. Orchids are grown solely for their flowers. We all know that the foliage is the boring part, unless of course the particular species has great leaf colouration, and an orchid which is not flowering is rather uninspiring. How can we prolong the flowering period and the interest orchids provide?
My tip, and a relatively hidden one at that, is to selectively prune the flower spike in such a way as to promote a second flush of blooms. This technique is comparable to the practice of "dead heading", which is common practice in general gardening, and to me it makes perfect sense to apply such a practice to our orchids.
Newly developing flower bud on old flower spike.
The usual advise given to all Phalenopsis is to prune the stalk back to the base or leave the flower spike intact. I have found that if you wait until all blooms have faded it is possible to identify a bud lower down on the flower spike that is easily identified as being slightly swollen in comparison to others. If you prune the stem just above this bud there is a good possibility that a new flower spike will develop. And we all know what that means . . . more flowers.
Pictured right is an example of this practice. This bud is developing quite nicely from the old flower spike and although it is unlikely to produce a show as grand as the last it is welcomed nonetheless.
In the growing season it is also advisable to feed your orchid with a specific orchid fertiliser which will ensure your plant isn't weakened. This is especially important if you are asking your plant to bloom for a second time.
Large Phalenopsis with two flower spikes.
This practice does not seem to have any adverse effects on this particular specimen. I have owned this Phalenopsis orchid for over four years now and it has never failed to produce the most wonderful white flowers. As you can see in the picture not only has it developed a bud on the old flower spike but it has thrown up a new, much larger, spike too.
I think that this is proof enough that this plant is actually quite happy in its growing position, on my kitchen windowsill, which is East facing and perfect for this orchid.
We wont talk about the need for repotting just yet. That will be discussed in a future article I'm sure.
Have you found this article useful? Have you tried this yourself? What advice would you give to orchid growers?