Propagate Your Lovely Phalaenopsis Orchids

Phalaenopsis orchids, white or in shades of pink or yellow, are easy to propagate and grow. If you are very careful with the way you water and maintain your orchids in warm temperatures, your phalaenopsis, or moth-wing orchid, will reward you with lovely blooms for years.

Step 1:    Divide Your Existing Orchid Plant

At the end of the previous growing season, the orchid will have many aerial root sprouts and lean heavily in its pot. Remove the orchid carefully from its potting medium onto a flat surface covered with absorbent paper towels. Do this in the spring as new growth is beginning. Check the orchid roots for new sprouts, and divide, ensuring each section has at least one new growing sprout and 3 or 4 healthy leaves. The sections will bloom the following spring after re-establishing themselves, and likely will produce stronger, more long-lasting flowers from more buds than before they were divided. You will need to divide and repot every 2 years.

Step 2:    Plant Each Segment in Fresh Potting Medium

The potting medium preferred by phalaenopsis orchids includes rich garden soil, with orchid bark and peat moss, to help retain moisture. Check for healthy whitish-grey roots, and trim off any dead, brown roots. Examine each section for insect pests, dead leaves and other undesirable elements. Choose the same size pot for each section as the entire plant was in before. A small pot is better than one that is too big. Add the garden soil, orchid bark and some peat moss to the bottom of the pot. Place the plant section in gently, and top off the pot with more soil, and orchid bark. Compress the soil firmly around the segment stem and confirm it can stand upright. Keep roots directly in contact with the orchid bark fragments.

Step 3:    Watering and Maintenance

Be consistent and precise when watering. Water each section immediately after planting, twice at 15-minute intervals. Do not add any fertilizer for a few weeks, as you want roots to develop rather than the stem and flower buds. Shield the new transplants from direct sunlight and mist with water in the morning and early afternoon, 6 hours apart, for the first three weeks. After that, water only when soil is dry, and keep root tips out of standing water.

After a month, begin to fertilize weekly for three weeks out of four, with a 25 percent solution of the recommended flower fertilizer concentration. Always water the orchid before applying fertilizer. Keep the air humid and ventilate the roots by using a ceiling fan in the room. The bathroom is an ideal home for orchids for most of the year. Set your orchids in an east window or shaded southern exposure.

After the orchid has bloomed, cut back the flower spike between two nodes, and it will bud and bloom again within 2 to 3 months.

Step 4:    Temperature Control

Keep your phalaenopsis orchids very warm: at between 70 to 80 degrees while they are receiving sunlight. At night, the atmosphere must stay above 55 degrees.