Cultivating Orchids & Crafting Terrariums

When do Phalaenopsis Orchids Bloom?
A Guide To Patience

Once the blooms fall off your phalaenopsis orchids, it’s a waiting game to see when your orchid will bloom again. That precious wait and ever-growing anxiety with every new bump in the Phal’s stem keeps us in an upward spiral of apprehension. Is it a new flower spike? Or is it just another root? There’s nothing wrong with new roots, but… really? So, when do Phalaenopsis orchids actually bloom?

Phalaenopsis orchids will either rebloom on a yearly cycle or will spike twice a year within months of each other. With the production of new Phalaenopsis hybrids in nurseries, at least one species of Phalaenopsis orchids will be in bloom during any specific time of the year, usually during spring or late fall.

I know that answer didn’t provide a lot of insight, which is basically saying, there’s a whole more to that question than I can answer in one paragraph. Phalaenopsis is a quite large genus, with 77 species of orchids categorized inside of it.

Each species has varying growing conditions. Depending on whether your orchid is a winter-blooming Phalaenopsis or a Summer-blooming Phalaenopsis, the blooms will appear in varying months.
Phalaenopsis Orchids in Bloom
Image Credit: © 2020 Orchideria.  All Rights Reserved. 
In this article, I’ve decided to separate four answers to the same question.

In the first, I categorized Phalaenopsis orchids according to their species and when they bloom naturally as if in their own habitat.

In the second, I answered according to Phalaenopsis hybrids, the ones you usually buy online or in grocery stores.

In the third section, I answered this question according to how indoor cultivators can manipulate an orchid’s growth cycle according to light, temperature, and humidity settings.

And in the last part, is how Phalaenopsis orchids bloom in other countries, for example, Australia.

Blooming Cycle of Phals Orchids According to Species

Phalaenopsis are divided into five different sections, according to their characteristics.

These major sections are: Proboscidioides, Polychilos, Parishianae, Phalaenopsis, and Amboinensis. This classification can vary, since some authors add more sections: Stauroglottis, Fuscatae, and the Zebrinae. The Zebrinae section is further subdivided.

Phalaenopsis orchids are the most common, being subdivided into five sections:
amabilis
aphrodite
philippinensis
sanderiana
schilleriana
stuartiana

These are the “pure” species orchids that are found in nature and crossed only in between themselves. They are a bit more complicated to grow since they will like to have their conditions mimic to perfection where they grow in nature.

When these orchids are crossed with other orchids, they have more leniency to growing conditions. In my opinion, the hybrids are easier to grow because they allow for more mistakes.

The table below is a summarized table of when the orchids bloom (as if they where in nature, under their natural habitat with all their growing preferences fulfilled).

Note that when you buy orchids online, from a grocery store, or even from nurseries, they will not be pure species. They are usually hybrids, crossed with other orchids.

Table of Blooming Cycle of Phalaenopsis Orchids (Species)
Phalaenopsis Proboscidioides
October. Winter rest of one or two months with no rain
Phalaenopsis Aphyllae
Start of spring produce s a spike, blooms in late spring
Phalaenopsis Polychilos
Middle of spring will spike, end of spring into early summer will bloom
Phalaenopsis Parishianae
Blooms in spring and early summer
Phalaenopsis Phalaenopsis
Amabilis – long time from spike to bloom. Early spring and blooms in summer, but flowers last a long time
Aphrodite – Winter blooming, from December until April
Philipenses – no info
Sanderiana – mid spring late summer
Schilleriana – cooler nights in fall required to initiate winter bloom. Can bloom 2x a year
Stuartiana – no info
Phalaenopsis Stauroglottis
Equestirs - September through April (fall to spring)
Lindenii- Late Summer early fall
Phalaenopsis Fuscatae
Most bloom September through April (fall to spring)
Lindenii- Late Summer Early Fall
Phalaenopsis Amboinensis
Spring but mostly summer bloomer
Winter blooming - rebloomer
Phalaenopsis Zebrinae
Late spring early summer
In the table above, I only listed a few of the most common Phalaenopsis orchids. Since there are 77+ orchids in the Phalaenopsis genus, I didn't go over each one.

Bloom Cycle of Phalaenopsis Hybrid Orchids

Since most of the orchids we buy will be hybrids, with two different parents, the blooming cycles differ. Some orchid cultivators have crossed two (or more) kinds of orchids to guarantee longer-lasting blooms and frequent reblooms.

This is why at any time of the year you can walk into a supermarket or grocery store and pick up a blooming orchid.

By the way, since these will most likely have different growing conditions, check out this article I wrote about how to care for your supermarket orchid, whether or not to water with ice cubes, and this other one about removing the plastic that comes with it. These mass-produced orchids will have a slightly different care process.

So, when do these Phalaenopsis hybrids orchids bloom? Get a calendar, journal, or diary and write down the date you bought it. You can also write down the day the blooms fell off and when it spikes again.

Phalaenopsis orchids will rebloom at the same time each calendar year (as in the seasons spring, summer, winter or fall). If the orchid has a habit of reblooming then you will see another spike a couple of months after the first one.

Each orchid is uniquely different in this aspect.

If you haven’t seen any signs of a flower spike or any indications of a new growth, then these articles are suggestions for reblooming orchids. One article is a Dendrobium Phalaenopsis, but the guidelines could be very well applied to Phalaenopsis orchids, too. The other is about orchid nodes and 9 questions about flowering Phalaenopsis.

The main reasons Phalaenopsis hybrids orchids don’t rebloom are two:

1) A cool-growing Phalaenopsis will need a drop in temperature one month before it’s bloom. In early fall, keep the Phal at a nighttime temperature of 10°F (+/- 5°C) less than you normally keep it at. For example, if your living room is at 75°F (23°C) during the day, drop that to 65°F (18°C) at night. Do this for one month, to trigger the orchid’s sense of seasons.

2) If your orchid is a warm-growing orchid (if it’s a supermarket orchid, then it probably won’t be) then check your fertilization rates and proportions to encourage a bloom. Most warm-growing Phalaenopsis live in an extremely high humidity, ranging from 60 to 85%.

The majority of warm-growing are mini Phals and due great in orchidariums or terrariums that have misters and fans. They are a little harder to grow in terms of beginner orchids, and blooms are harder to achieve.

If you ordered your orchid online and only later realized the humidity should be much more, then this article is a review of the best misters for orchids, both in a vase and in a terrarium.
Phalaenopsis in Winter
Image Credit: © 2020 Orchideria.  All Rights Reserved. 

Indoor Phalaenopsis Orchid Blooming Cycle

When you don’t have the perfect weather and have to grow orchids indoors (like I do in Kansas), the only indication that the orchid has to what time of year it is, is the time that you provide.

This can be manipulated and adapted for when you want them to think its winter or summer. If your indoor climates are the same year-round, then the orchids that have less variation in their climate will adapt well.

Orchids can sense the time of year through three indications: light, temperature, and humidity...and bloom accordingly.

The light in some growing climates will have longer days and shorter nights. The closer to the equator they are, the less light variation they suffer. The further away from the equator, the more the length of the days/nights will vary.

This is why it’s important to know the kind of orchid you acquired and where it would have been living in nature. With all the hybrids, it’s hard to know exactly without asking your seller. To recreate this climate indoors, you’ll need to provide extra light during winter season.

Artificial lights come in all different shapes and sizes, and in this article, I’ll show you how to choose the correct one for you. I have this one (Affiliate Link) but my office is small.

The next way orchids sense the change in seasons and bloom is through the overall temperature. My isolated drywalls still allow some decrease in temperature during winter, so I have to keep the heater on constantly. Yet, the temperatures still fluctuate greatly.

(Hehehe… I’m writing this article at my computer desk, wrapped up in a warm blanket and wearing fluffy slippers. It’s not fully winter yet. This is sad…)

In this case, you might need a heating pad under the orchids that prefer higher temperatures to enocurage both root growth and new flower spikes. Most Phalaenopsis tend to grow in higher temperatures, for example, only Aphyllae are cool growers, preferring a colder climate. These Phalaenopsis will grow in higher elevations, like cliffs and short mountains, of around 1,500m to 2,000m. The higher they grow, the cooler they prefer.

The subgenera of Phalaenopsis (amabilis, Aphrodite, philippinensis, sanderiana, schilleriana, and stuartiana) are intermediate growers, from lowland orchids, ranging from 1,500m high to sea-level. Most grow well at 1,000 to 1,500m.

The last method that the Phalaenopsis orchid knows it’s time to bloom is the relative humidity in the air. In some parts of the world, the growing seasons aren’t defined by four distinct seasons, like they are in the United States. They are more defined by two seasons: rainy and dry.

When I lived in Brazil, I would suffer during the long periods of dry season. The grass would crumple up and crunch into dust when you stepped on it. Four long months without one drop of rain.

Following this extremely dry period, the rain would fall sporadically, leading up to four months of direct rain, every day. The rain fell down like hot tea (which is why I particularly have a hard time with the ice cube watering method).

The orchids know when it’s time to bloom when they sense the change in the relative humidity. You can honestly smell the air and sense it is going to rain. It’s such a refreshing feeling. Catasetum orchids (which grow abundantly where I lived) follow this rain pattern and have adapted to bloom accordingly.

As for Phalaenopsis, they can also sense the changes in the humidity. When the humidity rises, their stomata open (which are the breathing pores located majorly on the bottom side of the leaf). They perform gas exchange in higher humidity climates, than during the dry periods of the day.

In some climates where Phalaenopsis grow, the increasing humidity levels indicate it’s time to bloom. With more rain, more pollinators appear. More pollinators; more open flowers.

If you can tweak and adjust these three items in indoor orchid care, you can mimic the natural environment that your orchid would live in if it was in situ. These three together will tell the orchid when to shoot out that flower spike.

If you want, you can play around with the temperature, lighting, and humidity to recreate the blooming cycle you’d prefer. This does confuse the orchid for a year, but the next year, it adapts well. Just keep the changes constant and don’t be fluctuating these items every two months.

Fertilization also can induce the orchid to know what it needs to work on or tell it that it’s blooming time. But this is way over my head… I just fertilize according to this guide I wrote, below.
Orchid Fertilization
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Phalaenopsis Blooming Cycle in Different Countries

Even though I write from an indoor cultivating perspective, I know this article is very continental USA based.

If you live in Australia, for example, the blooming cycle for Phalaenopsis orchids will differ (usually they bloom in spring and autumn). Because Australian climates are great for Phalaenopsis (18° C to 28°C during the day and around 15°C to18°C at night), they can also be grown outside.

For continental United States growers, well… we’ll just have to be content with a few days of outside growth. You can check this article I wrote about growing orchids outside if you’re interested in that.

The same happens for orchid growers living in the southern hemisphere—the cycles will be based on different dates.

I had the hardest time remembering that north and south-faced windows are inverted when in Brazil. I’d read all these wonderful articles and wonder why my south-facing windows didn’t get the same results. Then it hit me, like… duh?

I also lived in Zimbabwe which is the same parallel as Brasilia, Brazil. Yet the nights were so much colder. Those nights by the fireplace were the best family times though… Anyway, because of the temperature fluctuations, I had to do even more research. Each country will present their unique conditions, which explains why orchid growing can’t have a simple answer.

Another simple but forgotten tip: When reading articles that are, like mine, USA referenced, and you are in the southern hemisphere, then switch/invert the calendar tables. Spring becomes autumn and summer becomes winter.
I know these answers are not the specific answers you wanted. After all, when will my Phalaenopsis orchid bloom? The simple answer is when it wants to. Let your orchid do its thing.

That’s the best way to go about orchid care, learning that your Phalaenopsis will bloom when it’s lighting, heating, humidity, and fertilizing requirements are all met. Given it’s had time to recover after a recent bloom, it can also rebloom in a couple months…

Again, no specific answers can answer this question adequately.

I wish you all the best in your orchid care, and Happy Cultivating.
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MY NEW ORCHID BOOK, ORCHID JOURNEY, IS ALMOST READY!!
Orchid Planner and Tracker
I've waited so long for this!!! Orchid Journey is a 361-page orchid tracker and planner made for you to deepen your knowledge in orchid care as you experiment with different methods and techniques.

Call it what you'd like-- journal, diary, notebook, observation tracker--but this planner will take your learning to the next level. It's the perfect journal to expand your orchid collection.

Clicking the link below takes you to a page on Orchideria where I explain more about the journal and when it will be launched.

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