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333 Comments on “Q&A”

  1. Veronica C. Says:

    Please help! I don’t know what type of orchid I have. It was blooming when I got it and hash;t ever since (maybe 2 years). It seems very healthy, as I water it only once in a while and keep it in a spot it seems to like. Today, I broke the major stem below all of the shoots that were probably going to bloom in the near future. I put the broken part in a glass water, in the hopes that it will grow roots and then I can replant it. Is this right? Will something else work? PLEASE HELP!!!

  2. Marc Says:

    Try to identify your orchid to learn its specific care needs. Phals are the most common, and a good place to start, but answers to some of your questions depend on what kind you have.

    Broken orchid flower stems will not turn into new plants. If the buds were close to mature when it broke, flowers may open in a glass of water. The good news is that any orchid can survive a broken flower stem. Some orchids, like Phals and Epidendrums, may regrow a broken flower stem, but others won’t bloom for another year.

    If it’s summer where you live, it’s likely that your orchid needs water more than once in a while. Phals, for instance, may need water 2 or 3 times a week, and more if it’s warmer. Check this blog post about how to know when to water your orchid.

  3. Cielo Says:

    Hi, I have phalaenopsis orchids placed by the window in our family room. It has buds but why are the buds turning yellow, do not bloom, and just fall off? I water the orchids every 3-4 days, it gets sunlight in the morning and house temp is 22-23C.
    I have several phals and I often see mealy bugs – white cottony appearance with brown thing inside, on some leaves and buds. I use insecticidal soap but they keep on coming back. How do I treat it and totally have it disappear?

  4. Marc Says:

    Your daytime temps are good, so that leaves me to wonder what else isn’t right. The problem with mealybugs indicates there’s an underlying problem with your growing conditions, and they could be contributing to the bud drop. My first suspicion is inadequate humidity, which could cause the bud failures and infestations. Also check that your nighttime temps don’t go below 18C (65F.) Once you’ve figured out the underlying problem, keep after the mealybugs and they should go away.

  5. Laurie Saenz Says:

    I have a phalaenopsis that after it dropped off all the flowers, leaves started to grow on the stem. Should I still cut it off at the base? I noticed the stem is still continuing to grow instead of dying off.

  6. Marc Says:

    Your Phal has baby orchids, or keikis. Check this blog post for more info about keikis and what to do with them. Keikis can indicate a problem with growing conditions, like low light, too much water, or hot temps, so check care info for Phals.

  7. Amber Says:

    My step son chopped off all the flowers of the stem on my Phal. He hit it with the Wii controller and it snapped right off. will it ever grow back or will another one grow?

  8. Marc Says:

    If growing conditions are right, Phals will often grow a new flower stem, or spike, from a broken one. If not, the Phal will grow a new spike when it’s ready to bloom again, which may be in a few months, or take as long as a year. If the broken spike turns brown, it won’t bloom from that spike again.

  9. Ruth Says:

    I have a phalaenopsis orchid which bloomed from April till just last week, when the last of the blooms fell off. The leaves are dark green and helalthy. How far should I cut the flower stem back, at which time I will re-pot since it’s in the original plastic container and looks crowded? I never fertilized the plant, but read on your website that I should do that regularly.

  10. Marc Says:

    Cut back the flower stem with a sterile blade. You can cut it down as far as possible without damaging nearby leaves or roots.

    Phals don’t mind being crowded in a pot, and can usually grow in the same potting material for 2 – 3 years. Your orchid will grow and bloom better with regular doses of a weak fertilizer solution.

  11. nancy Says:

    Received my first orchid for my b/day june 3rd and the flowers lasted for 3 months – as i needed advice from an avid orchid grower – I was advised to let the plant drink from the bottom – just a little water – and check every few days- with no flowers left – I was happy to see a new flower coming but it has not opened for 4 weks -is that normal? Is it so slow to open up ??- or am I killing the plant by letting it sit in water??

  12. Marc Says:

    Different varieties have different care needs, so try to identify your orchid to better learn what it wants. You don’t need to find the exact name, just the family where it belongs. Most orchids sold today are Phals, so start there. Depending on what kind it is, you’ll probably need to start watering thoroughly from the top.

    For the vast majority of orchids, watering from the bottom tray would choke the roots and be fatal. However, there are rare exceptions, like the Stream Orchid. Some orchids can take many weeks for buds to mature and open, so it may be that nothing is wrong. As long as your plant continues to grow and bloom, you can continue to care for it the same way while you research. Good luck!

  13. doug Says:

    My wife Suzanne and I have a Phaleanopsis plant. the flowers started falling off one by one over the course of a month. starting in early september. We live in Austin Tx. The plant lives in our large bathroom, out of direct sunlight where it can get some mist from the shower. The flowers had been doing fine and buds had opened and made new flowers even for the prior 3-4 mos. The plant looks fine as far as the eaves go but it is now just a long green twig. Any ideas? As I understand it, Phals are not supposed to go dormant in the winter.

  14. Marc Says:

    Phals don’t go dormant in winter, but no plant stays in bloom forever. It sounds like your Phal is fine, and just taking a break before it grows a new flower spike to bloom again. Continue the care you’ve been giving it, and it should reward you with new blooms when it’s ready. It may take as long as a year, but many kinds can bloom sooner.

  15. Kelly Says:

    Hi. I bought a phalaenopsis in bloom last year in summer. Currently, it’s in the process of a rebloom but the moss and bark(below the moss) is beginning to smell. Should I change the moss now or is it too risky? I’m afraid I may lose the buds- it’s taken ages to get to this! I can see a hint of 2 green roots as the pot is clear but its not abundant… Would appreciate opinions. Ta

  16. Marc Says:

    If the potting material is smelly, it’s time to repot. You do risk damaging the buds, but for the long term health of the plant, it’s important. Since you’ve described separate layers of moss and bark, you can try to just replace the moss for now. Once this bloom cycle is finished, however, completely replace both the bark and moss with new material.

  17. Traci Says:

    My orchid has many roots (8-10) which have emerged from the plant above the soil line and are growing wildly outside of the pot. Some roots are a 10-12 inches long! Do I leave them alone, cut them off, or re-pot? Leaves are healthy and the plant re-blooms about every 3 months, so no other issues — it just looks weird.

  18. Marc Says:

    As air plants, it’s normal for orchids to grow roots outside the pot, and it’s no cause for worry. Do not cut them off or it will harm the plant. As long as you have good humidity, the roots will be happy growing in the air. Most orchids need to be repotted every 2-3 years into fresh, new material when the old has broken down. Check this post to see if your orchid needs repotting.

  19. Trina Ellis Says:

    Do orchids need to be pot bound? All the ones in stores always seem to be in very small pots with the roots coming out the top. I have my first orchid. It is a Phalaenopsis. Thanks.

  20. Marc Says:

    Most orchids, including Phals, prefer to be pot bound, and also enjoy having some roots in the air. When placed in large pots, excess potting material can hold too much water, which blocks air flow and causes rot.

  21. Nadia Says:

    I received an orchid as a present the other day and when I unwrapped it from it’s packaging all the green leaves fell off, the plant had a lot of soil on top of it and around it to keep it in the wooden basket it came in.

    I have taken it out of this soil and placed orchid bark on it and watered it. The orchid is a Phal and it has alot of open blossom and lots of unopened blooms.

    I have 5 other phal which I have looked after and they are all blossoming lovely and have nice leaves. I tend to water once a week dependent on how dry they feel.

    Oh I live in England it is a little cold here at the moment, I presently keep my orchids on a ledge which gives them indirect light.

    But I am a little concerned with this one. Can anyone help.. it was quite dry when I got it.

  22. Marc Says:

    If your Phal were too dry, it would drop its blooms and buds. It may be the cold affecting it; Phals don’t want to go below 18C (65F.) In England over the winter, your Phals will be happy with additional light. They can take all the sun you can give them.

  23. crystal grey Says:

    I have all kinds of roots hanging over the edge of the pots. what do I do with them.? how long should they get. When I watered the other day on my new one the roots are growing out the drain holes. Does it need a bigger pot.?

  24. Marc Says:

    It’s normal for orchid roots to grow in the air. As long as they have good humidity, they’ll be happy growing that way. Check this post on healthy orchid roots for more info. Most orchids need repotting every 2 – 3 years. Check this post to see if your orchid needs repotting.

  25. Maria Cordova Says:

    I live in Puerto Rico and I am planning to move in January to Virgina, USA. I wonder if I can take a few of my orchids with me, specially the Catleyas. Will they survive?

  26. Marc Says:

    First, you need to get your orchids out of Puerto Rico. As a tropical region, Puerto Rico is subject to agricultural export rules to prevent transporting diseases and pests to the mainland. I’m no expert on this, and you’ll need to do some local research. I suggest you also check with Virginia, which may have its own import rules. Start at the USDA website to learn more. Good luck.

    With that said, there’s no reason why Cattleyas and other tropicals can’t survive in Virginia. Their care will be different, especially to account for winter. Home and office heating dries the air, so extra steps are needed for good humidity. As high light plants which need some full sun, Cattleyas will need some supplemental light over winter in Virginia. Check with local orchid societies and other growers to learn what works best in the region.

  27. April Says:

    I have 3 phals that have just spiked. I live in South Florida and the plants get plenty of sunlight. Now that they have spiked do should I back off on the light? What about temps? Should I bring them in during a cold spell?

  28. Marc Says:

    It’s a good idea to move blooming orchids out of full sun so the flowers will last longer. While many hybrids have better cold tolerance, most Phals still want to remain above 65°F (18°C) at all times, so bring them inside for cold spells.

  29. Amanda Says:

    Okay i need help. i have two Orchids i think they are both phalaenopsis but not a 100% sure. one is a mini and has great looking leaves and the stem is completle dead i know i should cut it but don’t know what a node looks like to cut at. my biggest poblem is with my full grow orchid it had two stems i a pot and i got it in june as a get well present, a few months later the leaves turned yellow and fell off, now both stems look very dead and i dont know if the is a way to tell if its a lost plant or not. please help.

    thx Amanda

  30. Marc Says:

    If you want to keep your Phals long term, don’t try to force them to rebloom by cutting the flower stem above a node. Instead, let them go through their natural cycle of leaf and root growth, and they’ll rebloom on their own schedule.

    If the full-grown orchid which has dropped its leaves is also a Phalaneopsis, then it’s dead. However, some Dendrobiums drop their leaves when they’re dormant over winter. Unless you’re sure what kind it is, keep it in good humidity for the winter and check for new growth in the spring.

  31. Amanda Says:

    k. i need to go Orchid shopping then i double checked and the big plant is a Phals. Thanks for the help.

  32. Ann O'Donnell Says:

    I have a phalaenopsis orchid that is putting out bloom spikes. I have counted seven 7 spikes about 1/2 inch in length. Do I need to remove some of them or just leave alone. The plant is very healthy.

  33. Marc Says:

    Congratulations Ann! It sounds like you have a very happy Phal. I wouldn’t remove any of the spikes. The plant will grow as many as it can support.