The Biggest Orchid

I have a number of phalaenopsis orchids that I’ve picked up over the years. I feel like I’ve finally mastered growing them. But this year I’m surprised at how well they’re doing.

One in particular is doing better than I would ever have expected. While this phalaenopsis had two branches last year, this year it has four branches coming off of the main spike. This isn’t happening because this is some fancy variety of phalaenopsis that I’m growing; this one came from the “renowned orchid supplier” known as Sam’s Club!

IMG_1734I think there are a few reasons this plant’s doing so well. One is age; this plant is maturing as the years go by.

I’ve also found that potting these orchids in a clay orchid pot with a mixture of 1/2 long fiber sphagnum moss and 1/2 orchid bark potting mix works well. The mixture of moss and bark allows the medium to be moist but also aerated. In addition, the clay pot is permeable to gases and helps with aeration as well. I also like that the clay pots are heavy and support the weight of the orchid.

During the summer I kept this plant in a bright spot and was careful about watering. But what I really think made the difference was that I fertilized the plant twice a month with 1/2 strength African violet fertilizer from Miracle-Gro during the spring and summer. I cut back on the fertilizer to about once a month during the fall since the orchid was slowing down in its growth.

This combination of age, light, potting mixture, water and fertilizer seems to have worked. I’ve counted over 40 buds on this orchid and the spike and branches haven’t stopped growing. I’ll be sure to post a picture when this phalaenopsis is in full bloom!


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