Saturday, September 26, 2009

Phalaenopsis Birthday Orchid

This beautiful orchid was a birthday gift given to me by my employers. For the last year I have been taking care of their many orchids—as well as the other houseplants in their historic home—so I suppose I deserve the opportunity to try NOT to kill another orchid in my own home. (Yes, in the past, two orchids had failed to thrive here while under my care. They knew that though when I was hired.)

My plant is a Phalaenopsis cross: Phal Taisuco Grace x Phal Taisuco Swan. The genus itself has approximately 60 species of orchids, but it has been toyed with since the Victorians first fell in love with it so there are many others out there that have been crossed and crossed again. (I should add that they can do so on their own in nature as well. Shocking! I know.)

What I love about this plant of mine is that the blooms measured in at just under 5 inches wide! To add to that, the blooms are so large, the pot practically tips over from their weight—poor thing. I can now see why Phalaenopsis orchids are among the most popular orchids sold, but how can I help it survive here in my home? Popular because it's easy to grow is what they say about spider plants. I killed one of those too. In their native environment they can bloom for several weeks, but in a home, they flowers can last for 2-3 months! I must know how to achieve this!

In the wild: 68 to 95°F
Acceptable home temps: 59 to 86° F
Below 64.4°F, overwatering causes root rot
Need high humidity 60-70%
Low light of 12,000 to 20,000 lux (1,115fc to 1,858fc)

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