My son bought me a phalaenopsis orchid. On his way to bring it to me, he made a stop and left the orchid sitting in the hot car for probably an hour. The flowers, stem, and most of the leaves are brown. However, the roots and base of the plant still look green and healthy. Do you think it is possible to save this plant? If so, what steps do I need to take?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Evelyn: The good news is that the plant itself sounds salvageable. As long as the foliage looks healthy there is still hope. The blooms not so much, but thankfully orchids are typically long-lived plants that bloom once or twice a year. So, unfortunately you did not get to enjoy the blooms it had when it your son purchased it, but given the right growing conditions it will bloom again. For now you will want to remove the blooms and the stem all the way back down to the base of the plant. They will not bloom from those stems again; instead they will produce new ones as they get ready to bloom again. Your phalaenopsis should be planted in a soil mixture made specifically for orchids. It is bark-based as opposed to a peat-based soil. This allows for excellent drainage like they would receive in nature where they grow attached to a tree but under the canopy. These epiphytes prefer a sunny window indoors or can be placed in a shady part of the garden outdoors during the warmer months. It should be watered once a week and will benefit from a fertilizer made specifically for orchids. Visit your local garden center to see what they offer. Keep in mind that too much fertilizer can cause them not to bloom so be sure to follow the recommended application rates. The normal blooming cycle for these orchids is every three to six months so do not get discouraged: they should eventually bloom again. These blooms can last for up to three months so it is well worth the wait.