Spikes, Spikes Everywhere

phalI have a number of phalaenopsis orchid plants and right now, they’re spiking away. In “orchid speak,” spiking is when an orchid starts to produce an inflorescence.

I’ve grown orchids in the past but I’ve never had them grow so well and spike so much as these plants are doing right now. For the first time, one of the plants is sending up two spikes and on others, the spikes are branched and filled with buds.

Phalaenopsis with two small spikes

Phalaenopsis with Two Spikes

What’s different? I’m growing them with the same lighting conditions as in the past. Most of the plants are growing in clay orchid pots with sphagnum moss. There’s only one thing that’s different – this year I’ve made a conscious effort to fertilize the plants regularly.

There’s an adage out there that says orchids should be fertilized “weekly weakly,” the idea being that a weak fertilizer solution should be added to the plants once a week. I haven’t gone to this extreme but I have been fertilizing them at the middle and end of the month. I have some liquid fertilizer for African violets and that’s what I’ve been using. The orchids don’t seem to mind that the fertilizer is made specifically for them!

Branched Phalaenopis Spikes

Branched Phalaenopis Spikes

The difference is amazing. The leaves are healthy and green and the plants have all been growing well. And now all of the spikes just shows that fertilizer really is important when growing orchids (and other plants as well).

Eventually I’ll learn the lesson that fertilizer is vital and makes a big difference in how plants grow, blossom and produce. Every time I look at these orchids, I have a visual reminder of what a little bit of good fertilizing can accomplish!

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