Orchids are among the very diverse blossoms in the plant world. Some of the common names, like spider, spider and lady’s slipper, suggest that their shapes. Flowers are generally borne on long, arching stalks, called spikes. As blooms fade and drop out of plants, bare spikes are left. Most spikes will not produce more flowers, however, with proper maintenance, one type of orchid may bloom again.
With over 1,000 genera, 25,000 species and 100,000 hybrids, orchids comprise the largest plant family, notes Dr. Leonard Perry, extension professor at the University of Vermont. Growing in diverse environments, orchids are classified by three primary forms: epiphytic, which grow in trees; botanical, which grow in dirt, and lithophytic, which grow on stone. Though most types flower only once a year, blossoms are usually long lived and can stay in bloom for up to several weeks.
Phalaenopsis species are commonly called moth orchids because of the shape of the flowers. Although many orchids boom in the high humidity and heat of greenhouses, phalaenopsis are suitable houseplants because of their preference for household temperatures. Adhering to the pure drop of night temperatures in fall, phalaenopsis blossoms in late winter or early spring. The American Orchid Society gives phalaenopsis the distinction of being the only orchid species commercially available that may produce a second round of blossoms.
When spikes finish blooming and the last flower drops, you are able to leave a Phalaenopsis rhythm intact so that it can set more flower buds. On the other hand, the stem will lengthen and become unwieldy, and also the second round of blossoms will be smaller. Optionally, you can cut on the stem near its foundation or abandon two bottom nodes, which is where flowers were connected to the stem. From one of those nodes, a new stem will start growing and generating flowers in 2 to 3 months. Some Phalaenopsis may not rebloom, particularly younger or poorer plants.
Removing Flower Spikes
Because orchids are susceptible to fungal, bacterial and viral ailments, you must sterilize all of cutting tools before cutting or removing a flower spike. Single-use razor blades have been good options, but if you use a scissors or knife, you can disinfect them using alcohol or flame them to kill germs. Immediately after cutting a flower spike, then you must apply a fungicide directly to the cut surface. The American Orchid Society recommends ground cinnamon instead of an alternate to using synthetic chemicals. It is possible to apply cinnamon directly to pruning wounds from a spice jar.