Getting Orchids to Rebloom

Pay attention to light, water and fertilizer and your phalaenopsis will rebloom.

When they’re not blooming, you can often find orchids at low prices.

When it comes to orchids, phalaenopsis (moth orchids) are among the most easy to grow. Blooms can last for several months and you can get them to rebloom without a lot of effort. Well, some folks can. I haven’t had such good luck with getting another bloom, and I have the shelf of non-blooming phalaenopsis to prove it. Frankly, I’m a little bit embarrassed.

In an effort to succeed in getting rebloom, I checked in with our orchid expert at Gardner’s Supply, Anita Nadeau. She helps customers in the conservatory at our Williston, VT, store (Check out the slideshow, below). Here are her tips for getting your phalaenopsis to rebloom:

Blooming phalaenopsis are available by mail-order and at good garden centers.

Pay attention to watering and humidity. If you neglect your orchid, it will not reward you with blooms. The plants are growing in a free-draining blend of fir bark, so you need to water regularly. Avoid letting the plant dry out between waterings. Most homes are quite dry during the winter, but you can increase the humidity by setting the orchid pots on a tray of pebbles or a special humidity grid. Make sure the pots are not sitting in the water; they should be just above it.

Fertilize regularly. A fertilizing routine is just as important as a watering routine. Anita recommends fertilizing once a month at full-strength or every week at quarter-strength. For an organic option, consider Orchid Fertilizer from Terracycle. It’s a ready-to-use liquid that’s made from worm castings.

Make sure plants get enough light—but not too much. Anita says, “When a healthy orchid does not flower, it is usually due to not enough light.” Phalaenopsis thrive in bright light, but not direct sun. This means east- or west-facing windows are best. Orchids also thrive under full-spectrum lights.

Orchids in Bloom

A selection of orchids growing in our Vermont conservatory. To see the caption, click on the photo.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

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27 Responses to Getting Orchids to Rebloom

  1. Sunita says:

    I’m very wary of my Phalaenopsis (absolutely the worst approach as any orchid-grower will swear!). I grow, bloom and rebloom a thousand dendrobiums but when it comes to Phals, I’m as nervous as a kitten. And they know it… sigh!

  2. Zach says:

    Wow! I love the dark colored orchid blooms in your slideshow.

  3. That is an awesome slideshow. Sure got me interested. Very good info as well. I appreciate you taking the time to inform us.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Remember though that Phals need different types of fertilizer in the growing period (summertime) and different type of fertilizer during blooming time.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I grow both Phalaenopsis and Dedrobiums inside, in orchid bark mix and have no problem getting them to bloom. I never let them dry out and I use a weak fertilizer (the one for African violets) every time I water. I do not even have them setting on wet pebbles. They don’t bloom all the time but when they do it’s like someone just gave birth!! I have one that is blooming for the third time on the same stem – after the blooms die, I cut just above the first bloom node. Be patient.

  6. I’ve come to the conclusion that trying to time when to use what fertilizer does not make that much difference with phals in a hobbyist collection. It also depends what mix you grow in. A good quality blossom-booster or flowering orchid fertilizer, should suffice especially for plants in peat mixes or moss. If you use bark, then a high nitrogen or urea-free fertilizer should be part of your regimen, at least in the 6-8 months after flowering. Using different types of fertilizer at different feedings is also a good idea because of the different micronutrients they contain. While feeding is important, as the author writes, good light is more critical. Furthermore, cooler night temperatures around 60, not just to initiate spikes, but also during spike elongation, will help maximize the number of buds.

  7. Bellamaya says:

    I put mine outside, not in the sunlight for 3 weeks, day and night. They then bloom in the early spring.

  8. Bellamaya says:

    I forgot to say that I leave them outside in October.

  9. smfw000000 says:

    I have a large collection of phalaenopsis with about half of them blooming at any one time. They sit above my kitchen sink where they get lots of steam and bright light, but not direct sun. Don’t cut off the bloom stalk, and you should get at least one re-blooming. I prefer phals to cut flowers – they last for months, and are SO beautiful. Try them – you’ll love them!

  10. Anonymous says:

    to Bellamaya where do you live to be able to leave you orchids outside in October?

  11. smfw000000 says:

    One more thing: I only rarely give my orchids fertilizer, and they bloom their brains out! Maybe I should give them some and see what happens.

  12. Anonymous says:

    My wife has been growing orchids and finds Phals, the easiest to grow. She has 20 orchids, with many in bloom both Phals and Dedrobiums in bloom. She has one Phal that is 35 years old and has bloomed every year. Tally

  13. Anonymous says:

    I had trouble getting my orchids to thrive until I started to mist them every day with Willard Water. Now they are thriving and blooming.

  14. Philip says:

    Why doesn’t your slide show give the name of the orchid in the picture?

  15. I wasn’t able to get names of all of the orchids, but there is information on some of them. For instance, the first one is a zygopetalum. To see the caption, click on the photo. The image should get smaller and display more information. -David

  16. Anonymous says:

    I have mine in the East window of my WI home and one orchid bloomed all winter which one neighbor commented I love your plastic plants. I said I only have real ones and they were shocked. One stem is going to rebloom for the fifth year in a row.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Oh dear, I didn't know I wasn't supposed to cut the flower stalk completly off. Will another stalk grow?

  18. Gardener's says:

    Leaving the flower stalk certainly won't prevent rebloom, so don't worry. Just cut it off now, if you haven't already. To get another bloom, the more important factors are light and watering, as described in the post. -David, Gardener's Supply

  19. Anonymous says:

    Why don't you all join the American Orhchid Society and get all the information and support you need to grow every orchid imaginable!

  20. Anonymous says:

    Judywhite, the author of the Taylor's Guide to Orchids, has a brand-new book out this month, called Bloom-Again Orchids. She chooses 50 types of orchids that are pretty easy to grow, and tells you how to get them to bloom again. And as with the famous Taylor's Guide, she has also done all the amazing photography. And it's only $14.95 – I got mine on Amazon for about $10. Really good book, even fun to read.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I was talked into growing orchids by my neice several years ago. I discovered my little leanto greenhouse was a perfect place for them. They receive filtered SE light. I feed them a constant feed solution of orchid food. I use a mix of orchid bark, spagmum moss, and just a touch of potting soil. I water when dry. My best bloom time starts in the Fall when the temps go down to 60-65F at night and 70-80F at night. You need a least 3-4 weeks of these temps to get them to bloom.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Oddly enough my Phalaenopsis orchids are blooming away in a north window in my home. It is, however, over my kitchen sink so I think the moisture has a lot to do with it. The other thing I found works very well (and takes the guesswork out of it) is the bark mix w/fertilizer already in it. Also, the kitchen temp ranges from 48 deg to 70 deg at best. You never know!

  23. Anonymous says:

    I rescued my phaleanopsis from a grocery store, where it was crammed into a tiny plastic pot, it's roots sprawling all over the outside of the pot and the growing medium covered in mold and sprouting weeds, I repotted it in a much larger container with with good quality bark, and despite doing several things wrong for it, it has rewarded me with blooms twice a year, since.

    It sits on the window sill over my kitchen sink, in a southern facing window, and temperatures ranging from 55 to 95, and it seems deliriously happy! It now has eight huge leaves, and just this month has erupted with not just one but three new branches, that grow measurably each day. I water it once or twice a week with a very weak orchid fertilizer solution – the imitation wood pot has a drain hole about 1/4 up from the bottom, and I suspect that's a big help. But for all the delicate beauty of its blooms, this is the sturdiest, healthiest house plant I've got!

  24. Carol says:

    I have dozens of orchids. I found that if I put the pot in an old fish bowl they continue to bloom all year. I just put the whole pot in the bowl that has stones in the bottom. I also have found that orchids hate to be moved, so where I put them they stay.

  25. Rae says:

    Does Anita have a recommended orchid starter system w/lights, humidifier, etc. My braindead hubby needs a specific hint…

  26. Seems like light is the biggest challenge for some folks because they don't have sunny windowsills. Our tabletop light gardens are pretty nice …,38-319,default,cp.html?SC=XNET9005
    -David, Gardener's Supply

  27. Anonymous says:

    I cut the bloom stalk off my phal. Is there any way to get it to grow a new one? It's been 3 years. Beautiful big green leaves, but no stalk!

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