A butterfly-like flower is a comparison made by Carl Blume when he first saw an orchid with unusual bright flowers. He also gave them the name “phalaenopsis” (“Phalaenopsis” – “phalania” + “opsis”, which translates as “nocturnal butterfly” + “similarity”). Now, on the basis of natural species of phalaenopsis, many new varieties and hybrids have been bred for cultivation at home. Caring for a flower is not difficult if you know the characteristics of the plant, its requirements.
Represent the genus Phalaenopsis are herbaceous epiphytic perennials growing in the tropical forests of South Asia, the Philippines, and Australia. They are distinguished by a shortened stem (height not more than 50 cm), growing vertically upwards, and the absence of bulbs (underground tuber).
Leaves on an adult plant from 4 to 6 pieces. The oblong-oval leaf is dense, leathery, wide (5-10 cm), length from 5 to 30 cm. In the sinuses between the leaves, air roots are formed, covered with a thick velamen layer (dead spongy tissue). Sometimes they acquire a greenish tint due to the presence of chlorophyll.
On the long axillary peduncles (height up to 70 cm), from 15 to 20 large flowers with a diameter of 5 to 10 cm, resembling a butterfly in shape, are formed. The color of the petals is diverse and can be monochromatic, variegated, the color of the lip is usually brighter. Flowering is long – from 2 to 3 months 2-3 times a year.
Popular varieties: Liodoro, Caoda, Golden, Big Lip, Mix, Mini, Philadelphia, Schiller, Peloric, Giant.
Buying – What to Look For
On sale are usually hybrid varieties of phalaenopsis, bred specifically for keeping at home. They are sold in transparent containers, so you can see in what condition the roots are. Inspect the stem, leaves, flowers to understand whether the plant is healthy.
Root condition, substrate
If there is enough moisture, then the roots are greenish in color, if the flower has been watered for a long time, then their color will be greenish-gray or gray. The tips of the roots are bright green in orchids that are in the stage of active growth. If the roots are shrunken, brownish, with traces of mold or lesions, then it is not worth buying such a plant for cultivation – it will be useful only as a temporary decoration. Healthy roots are firmly fixed between the pieces of bark, and the stem does not stagger, if the roots are sick, shrunken, then the stem swings at the base, tilts.
Pieces of bark in the substrate should be whole, if the bark looks like rubble, then the roots do not dry out and will soon rot. A green coating on the walls of the container indicates frequent waterlogging, which, as a result, leads to the occurrence of putrefactive processes and the death of the flower.
In a healthy orchid, the leaves are elastic, dense, saturated in color, without dark inclusions, indentations, signs of insects, in the patient drooping, yellowish, with spots. Be sure to inspect the growth point – it is located approximately in the middle of the stem. It is good when a new leaf begins to peck out of it, and if there is an accumulation of water, then the leaf and stem can rot.
The peduncle that has grown at the growth point reports that a baby will soon appear. It will take most of the nutrients, and there will not be enough of them for the formation of flowers, so flowering will not occur.
Phalaenopsis can have several peduncles and the more of them, the longer the flowering. It is better to give preference when buying to specimens on which there are more unopened buds – flowering will take a longer period of time.
Rules of care
The “store” orchid is kept separately for 15-20 days so that it does not infect neighbors if there are insects or infection on it. After that, it is transplanted into another container with a new substrate. Manufacturers at the bottom of the pot sometimes make a layer of peat, moss or foam rubber, which causes moisture accumulation near the neck, so you can not leave the “store” substrate. Immediately you need to decide on the place so as not to rearrange the flower – phalaenopsis does not like to “move”. At first, it is better not to touch or turn it.
It is recommended to carry out any transplantation (after the store, when the pot is cramped, it is necessary to replace the substrate) after flowering is completed. On sale there is a ready-made substrate for orchids, which is used without pre-treatment. If desired, you can prepare it yourself: at the bottom of the pot, a drainage of small pieces of foam plastic, claydite, followed by the bark of the medium fraction, on it they put small bark mixed with crushed sphagnum.
The bark is washed before use, kept in water for two days so that it swells, rinsed again. The pot is chosen transparent – in the roots there are processes of photosynthesis and they need light. In an opaque pot, phalaenopsis will not grow.
Stages of transplantation:
- remove the plant from the pot, free the roots from the old substrate, rinse under warm running water;
- prune dry and damaged areas of the roots, dried leaves;
- if the roots have dried up, then 2-3 hours to keep them in water;
- place in a new dish, straighten the roots, fill in the voids, water.
Orchids need a lot of light to bloom, but the direct sun is contraindicated for them since petals and leaves can get burned. The best option is southern or western windows in the cold season, eastern and light northern – in summer and spring.
In the absence of a choice, a southern window with the possibility of shading, a shelf near the window, will do. So that the stem does not bend, the flower, without changing its place, is rotated 180° every 14-20 days. If there is not enough light in winter, then install a backlight. The length of daylight for an adult orchid is at least 12 hours, for a young or weakened one – at least 18 hours.
Thanks to photosynthesis, phalaenopsis feed, develop, and bloom. The optimal temperature regime is 18-30 ° C. At home, they feel comfortable at 18-25 ° C. In order for the formation of new kidneys to proceed, the difference between night and day temperature should be no more than 5 ° C.
In a cool room, orchids bloom longer – all the processes occurring in the tissues slow down.
In the summer heat and in winter, when the heating devices are turned on, the air in the room is dry, which affects the condition of the entire plant – the tips of the leaves dry up, the buds do not gain strength, the flowers wither and fall, the thin roots dry out. To humidify the air, bowls with water are placed next to each other, an air humidifier is used, and a spray gun is used. After spraying, you need to check whether water has not got into the leaf sinuses, the growth point.
Phalaenopsis get moisture from precipitation, air, and the watering regime for them is of great importance. Water quality is also important – soft, room temperature. Use melt, rain, filtered or tap water, settled for several days.
The need for watering is reported by sluggish drooping leaves and the color of the roots – if they are green or light green, then watering is not needed, if light gray, then they need moisture. When the bark dries, the pot is lighter by weight than with raw bark, so the need for watering can be judged by this feature.
You can water in one of the following ways:
- spilling – slowly pour water along the edge of the dish until it wets the bark and begins to flow out of the drainage holes (drain the excess from the pallet);
- for a quarter of an hour, the pot is immersed in a container with water so that the water is below the edge by 1.5 cm, then placed in a pallet so that the excess drains;
- incomplete immersion is used when the plant is weak, sick or moderate moisture is required – for 10-12 hours the pot is kept on a pallet of water;
- shower – the flower is watered with warm water (36-40 °C), after the water drains, wipe the leaves and sinuses with a napkin, put in place.
The orchid spends a lot of energy and nutrients on flowering, so you need to replenish the supply of macro- and microelements regularly. Fertilizers in solutions are applied during watering.
How to fertilize phalaenopsis:
- Forte – complexes with phosphorus, necessary for budding, full disclosure of flowers;
- biofertilizer “Mr. Color” for orchids – contains elements necessary for the growth of peduncles, roots and leaves;
- Dr. Foley – nitrogen and potassium in their composition are necessary for tissue growth.
The orchid receives the maximum nutrients with root dressings – the recommended dose is reduced by half and dissolved in water for irrigation, and foliar (spraying) – the dosage is five times less. Fertilization is convenient to combine with watering by immersion. In order for fertilizing to be beneficial, they must be carried out according to certain rules:
- after transplantation, when the plant is sick or weakened, it is impossible to fertilize;
- the first time after transplantation is fed in a month;
- fertilizers are not applied to the flowering period – the metabolism is accelerated, which leads to a decrease in the flowering period,
- the interval between fertilizing during the growth period is 7 days, when the plant rests – 14 days.
Composition for fertilizing: 1 g of any fertilizer for orchids + 1 tsp. sugar + 2-3 drops of epin. The frequency of application is every 1.5-2 weeks.
Care for phalaenopsis at home is based on its characteristics, and any violation affects the health of the plant. Incorrect actions lead to a violation of the flowering cycle, the dumping of flowers, the underdevelopment of flower stalks, buds.
What not to do:
- water after sunset – at night the substrate is excessively super cooled, which contributes to the appearance of fungus,
- use tap water without settling – salts dissolved in water settle on the roots, making it difficult to absorb moisture;
- violate the recommended doses of fertilizers;
- place new orchids near the “old” ones – you can infect the entire collection with an infection unnoticed in time;
- put in direct sun – leaves and flowers can get burned;
- do not remove water droplets from the leaf sinuses, growth points after showering, spraying – stagnation of moisture causes rotting of tissues,
- keep the flower on through ventilation.
If you do not violate the rules of care for phalaenopsis, then it will bloom abundantly and for a long time at least twice a year. It is propagated by cuttings obtained by dividing the stem or peduncle, divisions, seeds, children (process from the mother stem).