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Success with a phalaenopsis

Little did I know when I received a phalaenopsis as a gift about three years ago, that it was as tough as the perennial wild orchids that I was familiar with from my childhood. In my mind nothing could compete with the yellow and pink lady’s slippers that popped up every spring in the deep grass and graced the drab Manitoba countryside with their elegance. When I was honoured with this phalaenopsis, a stark hybrid on a single stem couched on thick green leaves native to tropical Asian countries, I knew it had met its match. My ‘phal’ is still in the same pot, gets watered every Saturday, just like my other plants, and sits in the sunroom by the south window in sunlight part of the day.

Apparently, most orchids sold today are hybridized, which makes them into more resilient plants. I can attest to that. Right now mine is budding again for the fourth year in a row. I am already looking forward to the 10 buds emerging into sprays blooming for at least two months. 

Here’s some tips: Since it is an air plant, it is critical that its roots are able to breathe. The pot should have a good drainage system. Water the plant weekly; biweekly during the flowering season. This orchid enjoys the same temperatures we do — warm during the day and cooler at night, and to induce a flower spike the plant needs a few cooler nights down to 13 C. An all-season sunroom is the perfect environment.

You definitely don’t have to have a ‘green thumb’ to enjoy this gorgeous, low-maintenance orchid.

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