The common grocery store orchid. You may have fallen in love with the wide, clean spray of flowers and bought one, or you may have gotten one as a gift. You may have even rescued a “dead one” – one that really isn’t dead, but just went out of bloom and dropped all its flowers. Regardless of how you got it, as long as the plant is green and healthy, you can get it to rebloom.
Reblooming your orchid
If the plant looks something like this:
…then you can get it to rebloom. The Phalaenopsis orchid must have at least 3 leaves to rebloom, and 4 or more leaves to bloom well. The leaves should be firm, and not wrinkly, and the roots should have green tips. If it does not, then please refer to the Phalaenopsis Care Guide (coming soon!) to get it back into health. Remember, plants will only bloom if they are healthy and big enough to sustain the flowers.
Phalaenopsis orchid environment
Phalaenopsis hail from southeast Asia in seasonal tropical forests where it cools down in the winter, but not too much, OR there is winter drying. In order to stimulate the plant to flower, you will need to mimic these conditions. Don’t worry! It’s not too hard! If your plant is healthy, the key is a day/night consistent temperature swing of about 10-20°F (~6-10°C). Generally, the optimal daytime temperature (as found by greenhouse growers) should be 82°F day / 64°F night. But you can get away with other temperatures, as long as it’s at least a day night swing of more than the aforementioned. Keep this consistent for more than a month or two, and you should see a spike forming if the plant is ready.
Another way that growers use to ‘trick’ or force orchids to bloom is to also dry the plant out a little bit, but not too much during this time. Combining cool and dry is a great combo that should get the plant to flower. Remember, if the plants leaves start to get wrinkly, you should increase watering and spritzing, as it’s too dry.
Once you see the spike, increase watering, but keep the temperature swing going. Usually plants in the window will get the ambient temperature flux from the window, but I’ve heard of some growers place the plants in sunny basement windows to get the warm/cool cycle. Other folks place the plants outside in full shade in the spring or fall to get that temperature swing. If you have no access to outdoors (like many of my fellow New Yorkers), then placing it in a window should be ok. Crack the window open during the spring and summer months, and be sure that the nighttime lows don’t get too cold! Plants will start dying below 55°F.
What to do About Bud Blast
Flowers are quite costly for a plant to make! Therefore, if the conditions aren’t right, or the plant is too weak, you will see a reduction in flower number, size, and quality. If conditions flux too much, or otherwise become too unfavorable, even for just a little bit, then the phenomenon known as “bud blast” will happen. There is nothing to do if your buds blast, other than to stabilize conditions and make them more favorable for the plant. You’ll just have to wait until next flowering to see if you have better luck. Preventing bud blast is as simple as keeping conditions consistent while the flower spike is developing. Commonly, bud blast will happen if the plant gets too hot or too cold, or if it’s inconsistently-watered (or more rarely, you overfertilize it). Bud blast is annoying because orchids take quite a while to bloom, but don’t worry. Your plant is still alive.
Credits and how you can help
I hope that this helps you all! This information is free (and please credit me if you repost!), but if you want to give back, please donate to my Venmo, @C-Sat or contact me at this email to help donate. I appreciate all the help I can get!~
Your Plant Doctor, @Botanictonic