Orchid problems: tips for growing my Phanalenopsis

Orchid problems: tips for growing my Phanalenopsis




I would like to describe the situation of my Phalaenopsis: unfortunately last summer it was left without adequate care for a long time, and the two buds that had formed turned yellow and withered, I photographed them (will they come off by themselves or do I have to remove them?). As you can see in one of the photos, a new shoot has sprung up, it should be a flower stem.

To get enough light to the plant, I keep it in the morning on the windowsill in the living room, where the window faces east; in the afternoon, on the other hand, I keep it on the windowsill in my room behind a light curtain, where the window faces west. I shouldn't change the position, but in this way I try to maintain the same conditions throughout the day. I spray the leaves 1-2 times a day with demineralized water and I bathe once a week by gently running the water from the tap on the soil and letting it drain well.

The vase rests on some fragments of expanded clay in order to maintain a certain degree of humidity (I do a bit of everything to recover the period of lack of care, hoping not to make mistakes). I administered stick fertilizer to insert into the soil, with the NPK 8-10-13 formula.

P.s .: today I inadvertently broke one of the roots that protrude from the soil, do you recommend putting some wax?

Thank you both for your patience and for the possible answer!


Thanks in advance and have a nice day.


Hi Gianluca,

first I want to tell you that the dedication and care you have for this beautiful plant is admirable. Compliments. But reading what you write, I believe that some things you should review them, and I'll explain why.

First I suggest you read the article dedicated to Phalaenopsis cultivation so you will get a better idea of ​​my observations.

First of all, it is not good that you move your orchid every day . Think about one thing: in nature plants take light just as mother nature makes it arrive. It is true that the Phalaenopsis they are found clinging to the highest parts of the trees because in this way they have a greater quantity of light but, once born, they remain there for life. East exposure is fine. By the way, from what I can see from the photos, it is also a nice large and airy window so it will have enough light for the whole day. Also consider that the Phalaenopsis it is orchids that have a lower need for light, so do not move it. Always leave it there. Check out this article Light needs of orchids, so you get an idea of ​​their light needs.

You can cut the two dry shoots if they bother you. Always consider one thing for the Phalaenopsis: you must not cut everything that is green. Cut only the dry parts. Why do I say this, because you never know where new roots or new flower stems can grow from.

Now let's see the irrigation but first a small premise: the Phalaenopsis they are epiphytic plants that is to say they are plants with aerial roots with which they anchor themselves to trees or other supports. The roots are free in the air and from the air they capture the particles of moisture and nourishment they need to live. Moreover, as you know they are also green, which means that they carry out chlorophyll photosynthesis (like leaves) and it is for this reason that the vessels that contain them are transparent, just to let them get the light and should never be covered.

You have placed the pot on pebbles where there is always a trickle of water which evaporates, creates a humid microclimate around the plant, and this is a very good thing. In this way the roots benefit a lot. Leaf sprays are fine. But don't overdo it, especially in the winter period. Also remember that nebulizations should be done early in the morning. In fact, in the evening the leaves must be dry. Otherwise dangerous rot could develop.

To know when to water you need to look at the plant. She will tell you if she needs it or not. In fact, if you see nice turgid and green roots, then it doesn't need water. Don't make them on schedule. Just when you see that the roots take on a light silver-green tint, water. Look at the photos below, I took them for you as I had to water them.

Dry roots

Wet roots

In practice I tell you this because there are no fixed rules on how many times to water since a lot depends on the substrate you use. For example, I only use pieces of bark that retain little moisture, however, despite this in this period, I water about once a week. Approximately every 15 days in winter.

To water it, putting it under the tap is not good. First how is the water of the pipeline of your city? Mine for example is very limestone so it's not good. I use what we drink in bottles, which I recommend, or you can use demineralized water (the one used for irons that you find in the supermarket). To water it, proceed by immersion: find a large container in which to completely immerse the pot with the orchid and cover it with water. Leave it to soak for 5-10 minutes, then drain the water well and put it back in its place.

Below I bring you the photo of how I water them. A container a little bigger than the orchid vase (which is the container where I normally keep it), I leave them in immersion and to keep them under, since they tend to come to the surface, I put the meat tenderizer (each adopts its own strategies)!

From the photos you send me of yours Phalaenopsis,, I seem to see that some roots have some suffering. It seems to me that some are dry and rotten. My advice is to check them out. Wet them thoroughly first, then take the orchid out of the pot very gently and check the roots. This is an opportunity to also check the state of the soil: if it is very friable it means that it needs to be changed. Follow the advice you find in the chapter on repotting orchids Type of soil and repotting of orchids. You can use ready-made soil for orchids. On the market you will find many brands, however, if what you buy does not have a good amount of bark, I suggest you add it (you always find it in the nursery) because it makes the soil more airy. If you decide to use it, remember to boil it before putting it in the jar. As you remove the plant from the pot, observe the roots and remove all the rotten or dry ones with a clean and disinfected scissors, possibly over a flame.

As for fertilizations, I recommend that you first read what is indicated in the chapter dedicated to the fertilization of orchidsI do not recommend the use of sticks, unsuitable for these plants. The substrate of the Phalaenopsis it is mostly inert, so the fertilizer does not spread into the soil. In this way you only cause a large concentration of fertilizer in a single point, causing damage to the nearby roots and consequently to the whole plant. To administer the fertilizer to the Phalaenopsis dissolve it in the watering, before soaking the plant.

As for the type of fertilizer to use, read what is indicated in the chapter I indicated on the cultivation of Phalaenopsis. The fertilizer you use (NPK 8-10-13) is not very suitable. The logic is: fertilizer with greater quantity of nitrogen to make it grow and that is a 30N: 10P: 10K or however, if you do not find exactly this ratio, a fertilizer with a greater quantity of nitrogen than the other elements. To encourage flowering, a 10N: 30P: 20P is used, while in the other periods a balanced one of the type 20N: 20P: 20K is used.

Also I would advise you to use a foliar fertilizer, that is to say a fertilizer that can also be administered via the leaves with the nebulizations. It is a great help when the roots are in pain. But be careful, it is always a fertilizer, use the indicated doses and in spring, once every 15 days, it is more than enough. You can also use it for radical administration by dissolving it in watering.

Remember that fertilizations as well as nebulizations must be done early in the morning so that the leaves are dry in the evening.

One last thing: the photo is not clear and I cannot understand if it is a flower stem. But, beyond that, it seems to me a bit bad with that bottleneck, on the verge of survival ...

I hope I was helpful.

Good day.

Dr. M. G. Davoli


I thank you infinitely, both for your kindness and for the service offered. Congratulations, I will gladly read the next updates and I have already recommended your site to some friends.

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