As my husband looked around the room at our new floral display, his first question was definitely NOT what I expected. (I thought it would center around dollars spent.) His first question was “Why orchids for Christmas?” Because I had asked myself the same thing, I was able to give him an answer. In the language of flowers, orchids symbolize prosperity, good health, well wishes and most important of all, true love. Since they speak to the very heart of the holidays, what could be more appropriate than orchids.
The variety of orchid most commonly seen in retailers right now is the Phalaenopsis, or Moth Orchid. With their glossy green leaves, gracefully arching stems and gorgeous sprays of butterfly- shaped blossoms (hence the name), Moth Orchids bring a quiet elegance to any space.
Phalaenopsis are considered one of the easiest orchids to grow, so they are a great choice for novice orchidist (yes, the real term!). Unlike so many other houseplants, orchids require a low light situation. The light from an east window is usually ideal, although filtered light from south and west windows can also work. Just make sure that your orchid does not sit in strong, direct sunlight. If the leaves are a bright olive green, then the lighting is correct. If the leaves are a darker shade of green, then the plant is not getting enough light; tinges of red mean the light is too strong. If the plant does not rebloom within a reasonable time frame, then move it to a slightly higher light location.
Because of their structure, Moth orchids do not have the capability to store a great deal of water; they do not tolerate long periods of drought or long stretches of standing water well. When the plant is in flower, water every ten days or so. When it is in the growing phase, water weekly. Keep the humidity high by using a pebble tray, as explained in the Norfolk Island Pine post. Experts in orchid care recommend watering with tepid in the morning, letting water run through the pot for several minutes and then blotting away any standing water from the plant’s crown.
Blossoms on Phalaenopsis amabilis tend to last a long time. When they are finished blooming, you have two different options. You can cut the stem down to the level of the leaves and within a year, the plant will reward your patience with bigger, stronger blooms. If patience is not your strong suit, then cut the stem but leave two nodes. Within two or three months you will be rewarded with blooms similar to the original ones.
Join us tomorrow as we explore one of my favorite holiday plants, Anthurium