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Orchid Care: 7 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Growing Phalaenopsis orchids

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If you’ve always wanted to grow orchids (or have tried and failed), then you’re in the right place! These tips on caring for Phalaenopsis orchids (the kind you can find everywhere) will show you how to get them to thrive and rebloom. They’re much easier to grow than you think.

7 surprising things you didn't know about caring for orchids

If you are a fan of mystery writer Rex Stout, you know that he had his protagonist (Nero Wolfe) spend at least one uninterrupted hour daily sequestered in his orchid atrium.

The trials of orchid propagation and disease protection were described in such detail that I formed an impression this plant was difficult and temperamental to grow.

Phalaenopsis orchids growing in a pot on a living room table

Then I started using the moth or Phalaenopsis orchid as an accent plant in decorating and learned how easy they are to care for.

The addition of one of these blooming plants brings a room alive with a cheerful focal point.

The flowers last for 3 months or longer.

Because they are now readily available commercially and priced so well, it is possible to have at least one brightening up a room.

Orchid garden in Kauai, Hawaii

Do not be daunted by how exotic they look. It belies how tough and resilient they are.

You only need to see the outdoor orchid garden at a resort on Kauai, or the orchids growing wild on the trees lining ‘Alligator Alley’ in Florida to be convinced.

Keep reading to find 7 surprising things you didn’t know about caring for  Phalaenopsis orchids.

1 | Orchids Thrive On Neglect

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Orchids growing wild on a tree in Kauai, Hawaii

Orchids thrive on neglect. In the wild they often grow in tree crevices!

I water no more often than once every 2 weeks.

I do not mist but will run the leaves under lukewarm running water if they look dusty.

Phalaenopsis orchid being watered in a bowl of water

Water the plant by immersing the pot in lukewarm tap water for about 30 seconds.

Then tip the pot a little to drain all the water from the bottom before putting it back into its decorative container.

Orchids do not like to have their roots soaking.

2 | Phalaenopsis Orchids Do Not Need A Lot Of Light

Moth orchid blooming in a pot in front of a window

While the plant is blooming, I do not worry about light conditions. I place it wherever it looks best in my room.

When the orchid has finished blooming, position it in indirect light­­.

An east-facing window works well for me. Any window that will grow African violets will work for your orchids.

3 | Do Not Prune Old Blooms

Moth or Phalaenopsis orchid with a second stem about to bloom

Do not cut off the orchid bloom stem unless it is completely brown.

Quite often new flowers will appear on the old stem.

4 | Orchids Do Not Like A Lot of Fertilizer

Pink Phalaenopsis orchid growing in a pot on a glass table

Add a very small amount of orchid fertilizer to the water of a non blooming plant every 3 months or so.

Do not fertilize a plant that is in bud or bloom.

5 | They Make Great Outdoor Potted Plants

Phalaenopsis orchid growing in a pot on a patio table outside

Orchid plants do well in a shady spot on the deck during the summer months.

Just be sure to drain the pots after a rainfall.

Unless you live in a tropical location, you do need to bring orchids in for the winter.

Want to get the tropical look with plants that do not have to be brought in? Click here to find out more.

6 | Phalaenopsis Orchids Do Not Like To Be Re-potted

Phalaenopsis orchid with a lot of roots in a pot

Orchid roots do not like to be disturbed.

I do not re-pot, just add a little bark or moss to the top of pots where the plant seems unstable.

Always handle the plant by the pot as opposed to the stem so that the roots are not loosened.

7 | Orchids Will Bloom Again Next Year

Close up of a large pink Phalaenopsis orchid bloom

When one re-blooms for you, enjoy the smile and feeling of pride you get each time you look at it.

Close up of white Phalaenopsis orchid blooms

Now that you know how easy they are to take care of, you have no excuse for not having at least one in your home!

Have comments or questions on caring for Phalaenopsis orchids? Tell us in the section below.

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7 secrets for growing gorgeous Phalaenopsis orchids

This post was originally published on August 10, 2016 but was updated with new content on January 2, 2023.

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  1. Tom Knight says:

    I live in tropical Costa Rica on the beach in Tamarindo. My Phalenopsis are outside 24/7. Daily temps are 76F-90+F year round. They get 2+ hours of early (7:30-10AM) sun in their East facing location…shade rest of day. I water with banana liquid fert every Saturday…I mist leaves and exposed roots with commercial fert every Wednesday. One plant had 2 bloom stalks when I bought it. It has now produced 2 kiekies AND rebloomed. Both are growing like bad weeds.
    You can contact me at “[email protected]”. If you like, I can send pics.

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Thanks for your tips, Tom! I would love to see some pictures!

    2. Hello Tom Knight. I read your comment with interest, in that I live in the opposite zone from your geographical location: in the Windward islands bordering the Caribbean Sea. I have 2 Phals and treat them almost the same as you, only that I water them everyday or every 2 days. One is in bloom, which needs water everyday, and the other I fertilize once a week. So far, they are healthy with no pests or diseases.

  2. Mechelle Gutierrez says:

    If the roots of the orchid look dead do you cut them off, my orchid is not doing to well I’ve had it for 4 years now, it is in bloom right now but the leaves are turning yellow and it doesn’t look healthy. What should I do?

    1. Hello Mechelle, I’m sorry your orchid is not doing well. It is okay to cut off dead roots and remove yellow leaves using sterile pruners. ( wipe them with denatured alcohol between each cut). I would leave it alone and enjoy the blossoms until they drop off. Although I personally never keep sick plants, you could try to water less or remove all soil, sterilize the container, rinse the roots and repot in fresh medium.

  3. Sharon K.Foster says:

    I just bought a orchid and appreciate your information 🙂

    1. Good to know Sharon. Enjoy your orchid!

  4. I have studied several articles that say not to be afraid to grow orchids and I read their tutorial or watch their video but I’ve had several orchids die in my home.
    I put them in a place with filtered light near the kitchen where they might get some humidity from the tea pot that boils every morning. I love them but they don’t love me back. I’m so discouraged. I have tried to follow all suggestions and yet they die.
    sad. 🙁

    1. I am so sorry for your bad luck with orchids, Cherry. I would suggest that they do not like the location. After mine have finished blooming, I put them on an east facing window sill and basically ignore them except for soaking in water once a month. I must admit that I do not always keep the dormant plant. While it is in bloom, I locate it anywhere in the house that I want an accent, then I just discard the spent plant. Extravagant I know but I too love the elegant look of an orchid in bloom — the foliage not so much.

  5. I received an orchid as a gift last May. It has rewarded me with lots of new 2nd-round blooms. I’m just wondering if you ever cut off the “extra” roots that grow up and out of the pot.

    1. Hello Kristen, I do not cut off any roots that are outside of the pot unless they are obviously dead (brown and shrivelled). The roots pick up moisture and nutrients from the air. It sounds like your plant is thriving. Continue to do whatever you are doing!