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Phalaenopsis cure: general characteristics
Phalaenopsis is an orchid native to the regions of India, Indonesia, Australia and the Philippines. It is characterized by the presence of 2/6 green and large leaves, able to reach a maximum length of about 50 centimeters. The roots are very ramified, thick and become silvery when the plant needs watering. The inflorescences are formed by sepals smaller than the petals and, their central part is constituted by a labellum with curved lobes which tend towards the inner part of each flower. One of the many tips for taking care of Phalaenopsis is to keep temperatures and light under control. This orchid must be placed in an environment where the temperature is around 16 ° C and about 32 ° C. It needs a lot of light but it must not hit the plant directly.
Location, water and humidity
Also the arrangement is an indispensable factor for the treatment of Phalaenopsis. This plant must be placed in a window sill located to the north-east or south-west. If the leaves tend to become yellow, it means that the plant is exposed to too much light while, if the buds tend to fall, it means that the orchid needs more light. Even watering must follow a precise practice, essential for the treatment of Phalaenopsis. First of all it is necessary to use low-acid water, it is convenient to use rainwater. Water at the beginning of the day, placing the water inside a container and immerse the orchid vase, then remove it and water it at least seven days later. It is a plant that loves humidity, in fact, it can be placed in a greenhouse, in damp places like the bathroom or kitchen.
THE PHALAENOPSIS IN BRIEF
From 10 to 60 cm
|Maintenance||Low and simple|
|Need water||Medium, deminaralized water|
|Rusticitа||Never go below 10 ° C|
|Exposure||Very bright, no direct light in spring-summer|
|Purposes||From flower to apartment, veranda and outside (in fine weather)|
|Composting||Every 2 weeks|
|Substrate||Pine bark, polystyrene, perlite, sphagnum|
|Soil / air humidity||More than 60%|
|Pests and diseases||Root and collar rot, aphids, gastropods|
Soil and fertilization
The type of soil is a fundamental characteristic for the treatment of Phalaenopsis. It is convenient to buy a specific soil for orchids, characterized by a light, drained but at the same time able to maintain a certain level of humidity. Also the fertilization is a fundamental point considering that the soil in which the orchid has its roots, is poor in mineral salts. During the planting of Phalaenopsis, it is convenient to mix pine flakes or similar to the soil, so as to increase water drainage. From March to October and, at least twice a month, it is necessary to mix water for the specific fertilizer for orchids. In this way, the supply of nutrients allows the plant to grow lush and healthy.
If the treatment of Phalaenopsis proceeds in the best way, it can happen that the plant flowers several times in a year. In this regard, the second flowering is facilitated by the cutting of the star above the second eye. The count must always start from the bottom and it must be remembered that the scissors used to cut, must be well sterilized, so as not to infect the plant. Sometimes it is possible to observe the development of new roots outside the vessel. This is a symptom that the specimen is well in that environment and we must never try to arrange the roots inside the pot because they can be damaged and broken. The treatment of Phalaenopsis is not completed by following these simple steps, it is necessary to perform preventive practices towards attacks of parasites or the onset of harmful diseases throughout its structure.
Rooms with windows facing South or East are preferred, and then illuminated for most of the day. Keep in mind that direct light, especially summer light (and concentrated by the glass) can be detrimental and lead to the appearance of burns on the leaf blade.It is therefore advisable, from May onwards, to shield the sun using light colored curtains.Who has a garden, a veranda or a terrace can decide to move the pots outside, shading slightly with special sheets (or placing them under the shade of pergolas or deciduous trees).From October onwards, especially in the northern regions, it is good to avoid any type of covering and we can also expose the phals to direct light (which is unlikely to be so intense as to damage them).Temperature
Phalaenopsis are sensitive to low temperatures, but usually have no problems surviving if, during the winter period, they are kept in inhabited environments (or even in poorly heated ones). Let us remember that the first damage can occur when it drops below 10 ° C, especially if there are currents or there have been strong temperature changes.
From March to November there is optimal growth, maintaining temperatures during the day between 25 and 28 ° C. In this period they particularly like the temperature differences between day and night: in the evening we try to guarantee a cooler environment, around 18-20 ° C.
In summer, excessive heat (above 30 ° C) can be harmful: it can cause stunted growth, dehydration and the appearance of parasites (such as red spider mites). If we cannot remedy an important aid will derive from the increase in humidity around the plant: we often vaporize the leaves and wet the surrounding soil.
Like all epiphytes (that is, those that live clinging to the branches of trees, obtaining water and nutrients), it needs a strong environmental humidity that must increase with increasing temperatures.
Under normal conditions (from 20 to 25 ° C) the minimum humidity must be around 60%. If this quota is not guaranteed we can act in different ways: at home we use electric humidifiers or we place near the plant of the water-filled saucers. Even creating an area with many plants side by side can be useful.
If we have moved the pots outside we can wet the floor several times a day or (better) choose a lawn as a support surface.
During the winter months the heating action of radiators dries the air considerably: always apply the appropriate ceramic humidifiers.
In every season it is always advisable, several times a day, to vaporize the leaves with demineralized or rainwater. We take particular care not to wet the area of the collar, where liquids stagnate easily and can cause the appearance of rot.
The quantity and frequency of administration of the liquids are decisive for keeping our orchids alive.
First of all it is important to use only demineralized water (such as the one sold for irons) or rainwater. The roots are in fact particularly sensitive to the presence of calcium and sodium: crystals can form there which, over time, completely prevent their activities.
To adjust to when it is better to water, there is nothing better than observing the roots (the transparent plastic vases are therefore ideal): we wait for them to become completely silvery. We can then choose whether to give water by pouring it from above or by dipping (filling a basin with water and placing the jar for about 15 minutes). The second option allows to deeply hydrate both the roots and the substrate, without wetting the aerial part: it is therefore very practical, provided that the container is then drained for good.
If we decide instead to pour the liquid from above we pay attention to do it uniformly and, above all, we avoid to moisten the collar.
An excellent natural alternative is to place the plant outside, in good weather, upon the arrival of a strong thunderstorm: the result will be a phal rehydrated and thoroughly refreshed, as well as washed from dust and household residues.
Since the substrate is completely nutrient-free, the use of specific fertilizers is essential to ensure the well-being and future flowering of our orchids. These products are commonly found on the market, but for those who want extraordinary results it is good to rely on retailers specialized in this sector. A characteristic to look for is the almost total absence of chlorine (very harmful). From spring to autumn we choose a formulation in which nitrogen prevails (to stimulate vegetative growth); from November onwards we pass instead to one that gives a greater supply of phosphorus and above all potassium, to favor the appearance of new floral stems.
Optimally cultivated phalaenopsis can flower twice a year, although the natural emission of new stems occurs during the winter period. To favor it, in addition to correct fertilization, it is important to simulate a period of rest, with consequent lowering of temperatures. Furthermore, maintaining a strong difference between day and night is essential. Excellent results are obtained by keeping the vase in an environment where there are about 16 ° C during the day and about 12 ° C during the night. This treatment can last from one week to 20 days. Later we will bring the specimen back to the inhabited rooms (at about 20 ° C) and the emission of the new stems should start.
Pruning and cleaning
Even among experts there is no agreement on whether to cut or preserve the faded stems. It is ultimately a personal choice: the plant most often produces new buds, but will be smaller and sparse than the previous ones. On the other hand, starting from "head" you will have more abundant and showy corollas.
In the case of leaves, they have been damaged (sunburn, gnawed by snails ...) we can eliminate them by cutting them at the base with clean and disinfected scissors. On the "wound" it is always useful to put a little cinnamon powder, a powerful healing agent.
Substrate and repotting
Phalaenopsis need a substrate that is as neutral and inert as possible. The formulations "for orchids" that are on the market are not suitable. Instead, the choice must fall on specially prepared pine bark ("bark"). Alternatively, the one used for mulching the gardens is also fine: but it should be sterilized and removed from the resin by boiling it for a long time and then letting it dry completely.
Other excellent materials are expanded clay, polystyrene (the "string beans" for packing or chopping boxes), sphagnum, foam rubber.
Repotting takes place when the substrate no longer has the initial compactness (and no longer guarantees proper aeration at the roots) or the appearance of rot at the roots. Before taking them out, wet them in depth, making them soft.
We can then check them and possibly cut the older and damaged ones. Leave them to soak for about 10 minutes with a specific product against rot (for example fosetil-aluminum or propamocarb). We recompose the vase by placing the coarser substrate on the bottom and exhaustion by hand (this guarantees perfect drainage). Adding a little cinnamon or charcoal can be useful.
Let it rest for about 10 days before returning to irrigate.
Important is, at the time of purchase, to observe the roots well and to choose completely healthy plants. If we decide to "adopt" plants in bad conditions, we first carry out repotting and careful reclamation.
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