Why Do Phals. Keep Losing Blooms?

by Tricia

In late June I purchased a "Just Add Ice" (Phal.) orchid. The windows in my living room face west, so I placed the orchid approximately 12 feet from the windows so it wouldn't get too much light. The temperature in my apartment is 72 - 74 F. day and night. As instructed, I placed three ice cubes in the pot once a week. However, after just 3 - 4 weeks, the blossoms fell off and the spikes turned brown, even though the same orchids at the store I purchased this one from are still blooming. Also, a good friend of mine has several Phals. and hers bloom for at least four months, some even longer. I cut the flower spikes back down to about two inches from the bottom, and then went to my local Home Depot and purchased another Phal., one which is larger and had many more blossoms on it. Well, after two days at home, the blossoms are wilting and several have already dropped off. I am devastated, and desperate! I don't know whether it isn't getting enough light, water, fertilizer, etc. (Also, I have a ceiling fan in my living room which runs on high all the time to keep me cool, and it does VERY lightly shake the blossoms.)

Please help me save my new Phal., as well as tell me how to care for the other orchid which I have cut back. I've read that you can force reblooming by reducing the temperature at night to 60 F., but I have no idea how to do that - I can't afford to air condition the entire house that much, not to mention I'd freeze, and the refrigerator is TOO cold!

I would appreciate any advice I can get.

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Aug 13, 2011
Comments On Losing Blossoms And Light And Watering Methods
by: Melissa

Hi Tricia.

Thanks for your question.

I thought I had answered this one. Sorry for the delay.

There are other threads on why blossoms fall and on ice cube orchids. Please read those as well.

Basically, I am not a fan of this method of watering Phals. I do not think it is enough water. As the ice melts the water channels and does not saturate the medium, only some of the orchid roots get water. AND I know of no orchid and certainly not Phalaenopsis orchids that like just above freezing temperatures for their water.

They are happiest about 65 degrees F. not near 32 F.

I think that 12 feet off a window might not be enough light long term growing of your Phal. Phals. like bright indirect light. About 1500 footcandles if that means anything to you. The temperatures of 72 - 74 F. day and night sound ideal.

Light and temperature are not the issue for blossoms loss. But lack of water (from the ice cube method) and perhaps humidity has hurried the blossoms along. At the store they are not using the "ice cube method" of watering them.

It is a catchy marketing idea but not in the orchids best interest. Easy, I will admit.

Yes, Phals. can bloom up to 4 months and sometimes even longer.

Cutting the flower spikes sounds like the right thing to do. Try to read (start with my Phalaenopsis orchid page) to learn how to grow and rebloom these lovely plants.

For your second orchid, it may be that the plant was near the end of its blooming cycle if the blossoms were all open. And sometimes the temperature differential of store to home environment can cause the blossoms to fall. Or if the humidity in your house is particularly low.

Believe me I do understand that you are devastated, and desperate! I think it is likely that the ceiling fan that runs on high all the time to keep you cool is also really drying out the humidity around the orchids. Try putting them on humidity trays of some sort. You can make some simple ones with pie plates and pebbles.

As to "forcing" blooming with Phals. You can cut the plant leaving a node and often it will push a new spike from that node. But it usually shortens the blooming cycle by only a month or so. Most Phals. bloom once a year under home growing conditions.

So focus on learning what your new plants need to grow and thrive. Read these threads here, the FAQ page, the Phalaenopsis orchid care page.

About reducing the temperature at night to 60 F., many people accomplish this by putting their orchids out on a porch or in a garage in the fall for about 3 weeks. But the temperatures where you live has to support this. It has to fall below 60 F. at night and not go so low to endanger the health of the plant (like below 40 F.) I would not worry about this for now. Lets get your plants growing well and if they are happy and getting the light, water, humidity they need they will eventually rebloom.

Hope this helps!


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