About a year ago I brought home my first orchid. Now the same orchid is in full bloom again, which makes me really proud of the care I gave it over the winter.

It’s really, really easy to care for Phalaneopsis orchids. There are just a few basic points to follow, the most important one being: look at your plant. It will “tell” you what it needs.

1. Light is everything. Forget about placing your plant on the coffee table or where it’s decorative. Accept that your plant needs to be max one foot away from a window, and never in direct sun. The leaves of the plant will tell you if it’s getting enough light. If they are bright green, the answer is yes. If they start turning a dark green, you should probably move the plant next to a window with better exposure. It the flowers start getting spots on them, it means the plant is getting too much sun.

2. Watering is also crucial. Don’t overwater your orchid. Look at the roots when in doubt. The roots of the plant will be green when the plant is hydrated, and will change to a silver color when the plant is thirsty. I water mine once a week in the winter, a couple of times a week in the middle of summer. I place the plant in a larger container half filled with water and leave it there 20 minutes to “drink” as much water as it needs. You could also adopt this other method of watering, if you prefer: place 3 ice cubes a week on top of the roots, that’s all the water it needs!

Orchid roots are silver=plant needs watering

Orchid roots are green=plant is hydrated, don’t water it!

3. When the flowers start dying, in the fall, don’t take them off. Just let the plant be, until the whole stems dry up. Then you can remove the stems by cutting at the base.

4. Now you can start fertilizing. Don’t ever fertilize the orchid while it’s in bloom, as this may cause all the flowers to fall off. In the winter, I fertilized my plant a couple of times a month (just follow the instructions on your orchid food). This is the time for the plant to grow new foliage and replenish its energies.

5. In late winter, the plant will start shooting new flower stems. By early spring you should have some beautiful new blooms you’ll be able to enjoy all summer long.

Here’s my orchid friend

Hi, beautiful!