The Q&A Archives: Orchid Care

Question: My phalenopsis (?) orchid bloomed perfectly last year, during May and June. After blooming,I repotted it in special orchid medium, in a pot not much bigger than it had come in. I cut the stem back to about an inch. I believe I properly water it. I may not be getting enough light, however.

About 2 months ago one of the large original leaves fell off, exposing another newly developed leaf. The new leave is growing fine and looks fine. However, now the other original leaf is turning yellow and appears to be drying up a bit, just like the other leaf. Can you tell me what's going on?

Answer: Orchids bloom best when root-bound, so don't be in a hurry to repot. It's also natural for the older leaves to die off eventually. They are usually replaced with new leaves.

The general guidelines for caring for orchids include giving daytime temperatures of about 70F degrees in the summer, or 60F degrees in the winter. It's important that the nighttime temperature drops 10 degrees lower at night. Orchids need good light, but not direct sunlight, and require 10-15 hours of light a day. You will have to supplement the light in the winter with artificial light. Keep the compost moist and use soft, tepid water. Orchids need humdity all around them. You can put your ceramic pot on a tray filled with gravel so the excess water will drain into the tray and provide moisture to the immediate environment. You can also mist the leaves occasionally. When roots begin growing out of the pot, usually on the top of the soil, you can repot the plant. Use the next-sized pot, fill with new compost or orchid planting medium and transplant into its new home. Once the blooms fade on your plant, cut the flowering stem all the way down to the crown of the plant. New stems and flowers will sprout from new growth.

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