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Orchid care

Latin name: Orchidaceae

The Moth Orchid (Phalenopsis) is becoming more widespread and well-known, but is still a mysterious and unique plant, which blooms very long time. Many people are afraid of keeping it, because they are not familiar with this plant. More then thirty thousand orchid species exist on the Earth, but only a few dozen are available in stores.

If somebody would like to keep orchids at home, it's worth choosing the Moth Orchid, because it's easier and simpler to keep, than other Orchids. This plant is characterized by its sort and concise oval leaves and the butterfly-shaped flower on the long stem. The orchid originally inhabitants of the tropical forests, it's living on the top of the trees there, and it does not take up the nutrients from the soil, but from the air, therefore this plant grows air roots. Do not remove these roots from the plant and never plant the orchid into potting soil, because the plant will suffocate in soil.

If you want to transplant it, buy a special orchid planting medium, which is excellent for the orchid. It's usually a mixture of pine bark, coconut fiber, perlite and peat moss. It can be bought already in smaller amounts in horticultures. The moth orchid should be transplant once every two or three years, but the size of the new pot should not be much bigger than the previous one, otherwise only the roots will grow, instead of the plant.

The transparent pot is useful, because the root of the plant is capable of photosynthesis, they can utilize the light passing through the pot and we can check the condition of the root. But if we don't get this kind of pot, just plant it to a normal pot.

The most common colors are the snow white, purple and pink.

One of the most important requirements of this plant is the constant warm, humid environment.

Thanks to the work of gardeners, these orchids more and more adapted to the European weather, but they still can't stand the cold constantly. Growth stops on temperature of 10-15 °C, and the developing  buds fall down. The moth orchid temperature range needs in winter: 18 to 23 °C, in summer 18 to 27 °C. The too hot and dry climate also not good for the plant.

Do not place the plant on a sunny part of the garden in the summer heat of 40 °C, because its leaves can easily burn, so only shaded place is recommended. If the plant is kept at home, avoid the drafty room, be careful about it, especially in winter.

In summer, the plant rather grows leaves and flowers in winter. The reason of that is that similarly to the tropical jungle, the daytime warmth and the night time cooling is beneficial for the plant life processes.

The humidity is important for the plant. The moth orchid has been evolving nicely even with 50-60% humidity, while for other species the 70-80% humidity is the ideal. That's why the moth orchid can be easily kept in our home as well.

Pay attention of the plant watering as well, never leave water under the plant and be careful with the spraying as well. If water is left under the plant or on the leaves, a damaging rotting process may begin. It's better to spray the plant in the morning, in the forenoon as the remaining water at the base of leaves can evaporate by the evening, but in the evening the cooler temperature would not let it, so the leaves may start to rot. spray mostly just the leaves of the plant and not the flower or in less frequent intervals.

Watering method for those with more free time: it should be placed in water with the pot as well for 10 minutes every one or two weeks in order to have it absorbing it, and then the excess should be removed. Every two weeks the water should be nutritious.

What to do with the orchid after flowering?

Cut off the remaining stem in order to encourage the plant for second flowering. At the second flowering the flowers are smaller, but equally beautiful. If the plant does not grow flowers, it might be because of the lack of nutrients. When cutting back, do not cut it back fully as the stem has phalanges and the last 3 ones must be left. After flowering wait 1-2 weeks for cutting back, as next stems are often hiding out from the sides of these stems.

Proper and regular nutrient supply is important. For this purpose, buy a special medium produced for Orchids. It is worth using rain water or non-carbonated mineral water. If we use tap water, and it is hard, white spots may appear on the leaves, which is basically lime scale so spraying is recommended only with boiled and then cooled back water.

Pay attention to pests, diseases, especially during shopping and do not buy a plant which already has yellowish leaves or suspicious brown spots.

So the most important care tips:

Water the plant once a week and never leave water under it. Rain or mineral water is recommended for watering. Regularly, once every second week, give special orchid nutrient solution for the plant. Grow the orchid on bright, warm place which is protected from blazing sun. Usually filtered sun isov more than enough for the plant. Transplant it every second-third year into special orchid medium. The moth orchid needs much more care, than any other houseplant, but it's worth trying, because the plant can bloom even up to 4-5 months. Worth keeping it in several colors, because the colors highlight each other.

Tips and tricks:

Water shortage:

The first and most noticeable sign, when the leaves are hanging. In a good case, the reason of that is just the late watering. Then the root is healthy and the planting medium is naturally dry. There's no other thing to do, than watering and until it gets well, placing the plant to a humid place. If we can't put it into a humid place, than it's enough to put the whole plant (with the pot) into a plastic bag after we sprayed it. Tied it's mouth, at most the stem should be free. After 3-10 days the Phalaenopsis will be the same again.

Overwatering:

Overwatering can result in drooping leaves. Then the roots are softened and yellowish. The best if we carefully take out the over-watered orchid from the pot and check if the whole root is dead or not. Remove the died parts and plant it back into black pine bark or its original medium. Cut off the flowers. The damp medium can only be watered again, if it starts to dry out. In this case, absolutely put the plant into a plastic bag. On a warm, bright place, depending on the level of growth, the base can regenerate in 1-6 months. Unfortunately, if the root fully decayed, there's a very little chance of success.

Snails:

The leaves show firstly the appearance of snails. You suspect them, if you keep the most important rule, as the medium should be always wet without drying out and without standing in the water, and besides that the plant is still withered. Mostly max. 3-5 mm brown or black snails with shellings may damage the plant. They consume the roots, especially the growing endings of roots and the freshly sprouting flower stems from the base. It is not difficult to get rid of them, but constant care is needed. Put the pot to the top of it into water. The animals climb up to the edges of pot, to the upper roots and the base of the lower leaves. It is very difficult to notice them, they often hide among the leaves. We can completely collect them, if we repeat the method mentioned above, preferably during watering.

Not enough root:

With right watering in a pest-free planting medium, it's still possible that the orchid becomes drooping. After watering it will be a little better, but that is temporary. After a short time even the petals of opened flowers will not stretch out. Probably the ratio of roots and foliage is disadvantageous. In this case the symptoms disappear in the greenhouse or in the previously mentioned plastic bag, as the evaporation is reduced because of high humidity level and the symptoms disappear. After a few months, when the roots grow enough, Phalaenopsis feels nice in the normal living area as well.

Overfeeding:

Over-fertilization can cause root mortality and spots on the leaves. The roots are sensitive to accumulated nutrient salts. It may be prevented if we use the solution just in high concentration and as leaf fertilization. This way the needed nutrients can also be absorbed by the plant.

Sources:
http://www.viragcenter.hu/
http://www.viragszerviz.hu/