I'm Filipino... And you must be Filipino if, you got orchids...
But seriously, I grew up in a house surrounded by 6-foot tall cinder-block walls, 3 sides of which are covered with different species of orchids that you can't see the wall anymore. It's my mom and my brother's passion.
What you got is a phalaenopsis, commonly called moth orchid. The problem with those things in regular retail stores in the US is that they are usually not potted properly. They are potted for transport, not for longevity. You know you got a poorly potted phalaenopsis if it is potted in tightly packed sphagnum moss or soil. So, if you got one of those, you'll need to repot it pronto. So, to repot, check the roots of the plant. If it has several green, fat, and firm roots with light green tips, you can wait until the blooms wilt before repotting (could last a few weeks). If the roots are rotted and mushy, you can't wait for the blooms to wilt, you'll just have to go ahead and repot. Go to the nursery or even lowe's or home depot and get a phalaenopsis potting mix. If they dont sell one, you can make your own by mixing bark chips, perlite, peat moss, and small pebbles. Take out all the old soil/moss - you'll have to break it apart as it will be packed tight (to keep the plant upright in the truck) - this should expose all the roots. Trim off the rotted roots and put it in the pot the plant came in and then pack loosely with the potting mixture. You can optionally move it to a nicer pot - just make sure the pot has big drainage holes.
Ok. What the plant needs (it's really an easy care plant when put in good potting mix and ideal conditions):
1. Temps between 60 and 80 is good. A 10 degree difference in day and night temps encourages bloom. It's a great indoor plant!
2. Bright morning or afternoon sun. No direct midday sunlight. It's great indoors next to an east-facing window. You can even grow it on 12 hours of fluorescent light about a foot or so from the plant if you don't have a bright window. I did this in the office when I had one.
3. Well-drained water. The special potting mix is designed to hold moisture but not stay soggy. Allow the potting mix to dry before watering again. But don't let it stay dry too long that the leaves start to wrinkle. Weekly thorough watering in 50% or above humidity conditions is ok. This plant is forgiving if you're like me who sometimes forget to water plants. If you live in low humidity home, you can spritz the exposed roots with a spray bottle in between watering or you can put the pot on a saucer of water with pebbles to keep the bottom of the pot from being submerged. I've lived with orchids so long that I can determine if the plant needs watering by the weight of the pot!
4. Proper aeration of roots. The special potting mix is also designed to allow air flow through the roots. This is usually what kills retail store orchids - they pack the soil/moss so tightly that not much air can penetrate the roots... especially those in spaghnum moss that tends to get soggy when packed too tight. When the potting mix starts to decompose, you'll need to repot to keep air flow going. I usually just repot the plant once a year after it is done blooming.
5. Fertilizer. The plant thrives on even NPK balance like a 14-14-14 formula. Offer fertilizer every other watering and don't fertilize when it is in bloom. My mom usually "coaxes" a bloom by increasing phosphorous (like 10-30-20
) but I've never done it myself.
Thats really it for beginning orchid growers! There's some advanced techniques too... Like how to grow one in moss, how to get multiple blooms, how to get them to have babies, etc.
And here's some of my mother's orchids... She loves vandas - completely different care from phalaenopsis.
Vanda Sanderiana (naturally found only in the Philippines):
Some other vandas:
And here's my pathetic collection: