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strategically placed at least two feet away from the plant because incandescent light bulbs burn very hot. Fluorescents generally emit blue wave length light, good for growing leaves, but you can get red/warm spectrum fluorescents or even full spectrum bulbs, both in the traditional tubes or the newer compact spirals. There are more sophisticated lights,

of course, but the home grower may want to keep it simple. Don’t overdo it, especially in winter. Keep your addi- tional lighting to no more that 14 hours a day, increasing the light as spring approaches. Like most plants, orchids require the restfulness of darkness just as much as they need the extra hours of light. While strong light is necessary, direct

sunlight may burn leaves. Remember that where

these plants grow wild,

there is a lot of moisture and haze in the air, filtering the burning rays. Your phal will do best in filtered light, say behind gauzy curtains in a south facing window. By the way, the old advice that turn-

ing down the thermostat at night will stimulate bloom has been shown to be false (Blanchard and Runckle 2006). It turns out that day time reductions in temperature is what counts and that this may only need to be one or two degrees Celsius.

Fertilize Orchids need a light, well balanced Flowers can last for months because their are no pollinators.

(all the numbers the same) fertilizer, one-quarter the usual strength, weekly, especially in summer. Winter fertiliza- tion will depend on the amount of light available; remember that light is needed to initiate photosynthesis. A supplement of seaweed provides missing micronu- trients that your orchid will appreciate. Water

Let the potting medium dry out, but

not the roots, between waterings. Too much water can promote root rot and will reduce the amount of air needed by the roots. More phals die from over watering than under watering. Do not let the roots rest in water – be sure the pot is fully drained after each water application. Water when you finger poked into the potting medium can just detect the slightest moisture. Roots

Speaking of roots, phals are epiphytes

Phalaenopsis Ching Hua. 26 • Dreaming 2016

with roots that grow in air. In the wild, these plants grow with their roots at the top, seeking air, while the flowers shoot out below. Phals are also monopodial, meaning the leaf stem grows from a single bud, sending up flower shoots

Photo by Jusben.

Photo by Per Waernborg.

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