Growing Phalaenopsis Orchid

When growing Phalaenopsis orchid, while differing from Vanda in that it is stemless, is also of monopodial growth and not divisible.

It will occasionally throw adventitious plants from the nodes of the flower stem. Experiments have shown that it is possible, by wrapping the flower node in damp Osmunda and keeping it warm and damp, to force the growth of a new plant.

Phalaenopsis, the lovely white 'bride's orchids' from the Philippines and the Eastern Archipelago, respond well to sun, but must not be overexposed.

A warm, moist atmosphere, with plenty of air, is best for this species. Zygopetalums, found in Brazil, Venezuela, and the Guianas, require moderate exposure to sun.

The genus Phalaenopsis is also pseudobulb-less, and, if properly nourished, will bloom constantly and never rest. When the potting material is Osmunda, this tendency to excessive activity must be curbed or the plant will bloom itself to death.

Buds can be pinched off unless at least one pair of the firm, leathery leaves have been formed since the last flowering.

Old flower stems may break into bloom anew, which weakens the plant and should be discouraged by cutting stems close to the plant. The plant should be kept well watered, but the roots should not be allowed to become soggy from lack of air.

Phalaenopsis can be grown in pots or baskets. Oncidiums and Wanda coerulea thrive on rafts of bark or blocks of wood. Potting material may be tied firmly around the base of the plant and container with wire, allowing the air-loving roots to wander at will.

Growing Phalaenopsis orchid can give trouble to some growers. When potting, the plants should be well centered in the pot or basket. Medium should be well packed but not so firmly as for Cattleyas.

Compost should come well up around the base of the plant, since Phalaenopsis has a tendency to force the constantly forming crowns up from the medium. There should be very good drainage.

Osmunda makes a most satisfactory medium. When it comes to growing Phalaenopsis orchids, they are heavy feeders and will usually exhaust the medium in two years, after which they should be repotted.

This orchid has strap-like roots that wander out of the container and become fastened to it, the bench, or adjacent pots.

These roots must be severed in repotting, and the plant is inevitably set back. The intense interest in gravel culture, which is spectacularly successful with Phalaenopsis, is partly a result of this difficulty in repotting.

Phalaenopsis seem to be peculiarly susceptible to the disease of bacterial black spot. This appears as a tiny pearly spot in the crown and goes unnoticed frequently. The spot gradually turns black, spreads, and the leaves drop off, leaving an apparently dead crown.

In some cases such a plant may be nursed back to health and blooming, by repotting in new medium, injuring the roots as little as possible, and spraying lightly until new leaves form.

However, if the tiny beginning of the disease is noted, immediately treated with 1-1000 bichloride of mercury or Bioquin 700, the advance of the disease may often be checked completely.

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