Phalaenopsis pulchra growth, development, and flowering
My friend, Gary Firth kindly gave me this Phalaenopsis pulchra plant, for my National Collection of Miniature Phalaenopsis Species, exactly two years and eight months ago. I must say, it’s always a huge relief when I don’t immediately kill a plant that a friend has given me! Consequently, I’m celebrating the fact that this orchid remains alive and well and I am delighted to be able to share my photographs of this Phalaenopsis pulchra specimen’s first flowering with you. However, before we do that, let’s look back and see how this plant has developed and matured, over the past couple of years….
Phalaenopsis pulchra pictured in June 2018
All of my orchids go through an extensive quarantine process in a dedicated quarantine terrarium. During quarantine, I keep a new plant separate from my other plants for a period of time, to allow me to ensure that my recent acquisitions aren’t harbouring any pests or diseases. Quarantining plants is a useful precaution, especially for indoor plants, as tiny pests like aphids and spider mites, as well as newly emerged scale insects and mealybugs can be difficult to spot and their numbers increase rapidly indoors, without any predators to keep populations of pests in check. After this orchid successfully made it through my quarantine process, I introduced this Phalenopsis pulchra specimen into my Rainforest Terrarium.
I took the photograph above when this Phalaenopsis pulchra specimen had been in my care for only six months. As you can see in these images, some absolutely fabulous new roots were developing at this time!
Phalaenopsis pulchra growth and development (February 2019)
The lighter green bloom you can see covering one of the leaves (in the photograph above) is nothing to worry about, it’s just a light covering of algae that can be gently wiped away with a piece of damp kitchen paper. I find that on some orchid leaves, algae can become stubbornly embedded and more difficult to remove that others. Algae can remain steadfast and won’t want to budge, but by repeatedly, gently cleaning the leaves on a regular basis, (each week or every month) eventually the algae will reduce and you’ll see the true colour of your plant’s leaves again.
By the way, you can use plain water to do this, but I like to dip a sheet of kitchen roll in some left over chamomile tea to clean my orchids’ leaves. Chamomile has anti-fungal properties. I don’t manage to clean my orchids leaves as often as I’d like, hence the algae! Please note that I use room temperature chamomile tea – never use scolding hot (or cold) water to clean your plant’s leaves, as the temperature will be too extreme for the plant and you could harm your orchid’s sensitive leaves.
Here’s another useful tip: when you’re cleaning your plants’ leaves, tear your sheet of kitchen paper up and use one small fragment of paper for each leaf or plant; then dispose of your used paper towel and take a new piece of kitchen roll for your next plant. This simple technique will help you avoid spreading pests or diseases between plants.
As well as the algae, my photographs show that this Phalaenopsis pulchra specimen’s leaves are displaying yellowing leaf tips. The yellowing could be caused by the plant receiving too much water or it might be that another aspect of the plant’s growing conditions aren’t absolutely perfect, perhaps this plant is slightly too close to my LED lights?
Phalaenopsis pulchra favours warm and hot growing conditions; this orchid species thrives in daytime temperatures of 21C (70F) to 32C (90F). Needless to say, that the temperatures inside my UK home aren’t often this warm! Consequently, this orchid is usually grown in the lower ranges of the orchid species’ acceptable temperature range.
Phalaenopsis pulchra is producing a flowering stem! (September 2019)
Here you can see this Phalaenopsis pulchra specimen’s first flower spike developing! I expect that this new shoot will eventually produce a new baby Phalaenopsis pulchra plant (a keiki), rather than a flower, but who knows what could happen? We might get a flower followed by a keiki! To be honest, at this stage, I was just praying that I didn’t drop the plant and snap the stem, which is something that I remain anxious about today, almost exactly a year after taking this photograph!
In this next image you can see how much this Phalaenopsis pulchra specimen’s stem has grown over the past seven months. Yes, the stem is really long and it’s still growing! It’s not unusual for Phalaenopsis pulchra plants to send out tall stems which in time will produce a new generation of young Phalaenopsis pulchra plants.
Phalaenopsis pulchra continued stem development (November 2019)
Now we’ll fast-forward to November 2019, when I decided to move this Phalaenopsis pulchra specimen into my new Tall Orchidarium; this plant is still growing inside the same terrarium today.
Phalaenopsis pulchra continued growth and development (May 2020)
I have set up an automated misting system inside my Tall Orchidarium to deliver a fine mist of rainwater over my plants, every morning. Inside this enclosure, my plants benefit from supplemental lighting, thanks to my LED lights, and I’ve also installed equipment that maintains high humidity levels to create a comfortable growing environment for my plants. (By the way, if you’re interested in setting up your own terrarium, you’ll find all of my articles with information and instructions on how to set up and build your own terrarium, here.)
What an absolutely magnificent new Phalaenopsis pulchra root! New roots are so precious; some orchids produce silvery roots that can be as impressive as any orchid flower!
My photograph below shows a middle aged root alongside a new flowering spike; I took this photograph, as I know that orchid growers sometimes get new flowering stems and roots confused. When it comes to this particular orchid species, the new Phalaenopsis pulchra flowering stem is green.
If you’re wondering how to tell a root or flowering stem apart, I often think that the tips of new flowering stems have some resemblance to mittens; can you see what I mean in my photograph below? Orchid species differ greatly in many ways, some orchids produce flattened roots and their root tips can be different colours, too, but on this particular orchid species, the root tip is pointed, it’s a cylindrical root that’s shaped rather like a pencil, with a nicely sharpened tip.
These Phalaenopsis stems have really rocketed away! I am hoping that at least one of these stems will produce new baby Phalaenopsis pulchra plants (keikis). I’m interested to see where this plant will position its descendants, so I’m not interfering with it too much, as I can’t wait to see where they end up. I’m also anxious not to snap the stems!
Phalaenopsis pulchra tall extended growth and flower buds! (August 2020)
This Phalaenopsis pulchra specimen is currently in the process of producing five flowering stems. I am unsure how many of these stems will actually bloom successfully; I expect that there will be at least two keikis, which is also very exciting! I am delighted at the prospect of new plants and new flowers!
It’s always so exciting to see flower buds developing!
Phalaenopsis pulchra orchids form quite a substantial plants. This is a small sized orchid, so it’s larger than the majority of my orchids, which tend to be more miniature in size. I’ve just measured this Phalaenopsis pulchra specimen, it currently measures approximately 15cm (6″) tall and 12cm (5″) wide.
Phalaenopsis pulchra flowering! (September 2020)
I’m so happy to show you that this Phalaenopsis is now in bloom, and all the plant’s stems are still intact!
We’ve now reached the really exciting part, this Phalaenopsis pulchra specimen’s first flower is opening! So far, I’ve not been able to detect any perfume from this flower. I’ve examined the bloom at different times of the day and night, but I still cannot discover any scent at all.
I’ve just measured this Phalaenopsis pulchra specimen’s tallest stem; it’s huge and currently measures 35cm (14″)!
Phalaenopsis pulchra flowers are full-on! This is not a subtle orchid species; Phalaenopsis pulchra flowers are a truly dazzling magenta, they really stand out! The blooms have a glossy, polished appearance that enhances Phalaenopsis pulchra‘s glamorous style. In my photographs, you might be able to see white marks on the petals; however, Phalaenopsis pulchra flowers are a uniform pink colour without any markings or patterns. The white markings in my pictures are just where my camera has picked up the reflective sheen from the petals and sepals, there aren’t any markings or deposits on this Phalaenopsis pulchra specimen’s flowers.
I was so excited to see this Phalaenopsis pulchra plant in bloom for the first time! It’s so lovely to be able to share the opening of this Phalaenopsis pulchra specimen’s flowers with you. It’s always a magical moment when a flower bud opens!
Phalaenopsis pulchra flowers are so vividly coloured, they really stand out and glow with their own intensity. It took about 24 hours for this Phalaenopsis pulchra flower to fully open and reveal itself.
I fertilise this orchid using Orchid Focus Grow, while the plant’s in growth, and Orchid Focus Bloom, while the plant’s in bloom. The plants receive fertiliser every week, for three weeks in a row, and then on the fourth week, I have a week off and I spray only rainwater (or reverse osmosis water) over my plant’s roots.
Phalaenopsis pulchra flowers are so shiny, they gleam in the sunlight!
I regularly use SB Plant Invigorator to try to keep spider mites, aphids, and other pests under control on this Phalaenopsis pulchra specimen and on all the orchids in my collection. I don’t ever use this product outside in my garden (as I don’t want to harm any insects outside), but I use it on all my indoor plants.
SB Plant Invigorator is an organic treatment that has a physical mode of action on a wide range of pests, including aphids, whitefly, scale insect, spider mites, and mealybug. This product is also said to work as a foliar feed and a mildewcide; I am not sure whether I’ve noticed SB Plant Invigorator have an effect as a feed, but I do think that this product really helps to control pests.
The problem is that for the treatment to be effective, it’s important to spray all of your plants throughly; to do this it is usually advisable to take the orchids out of their enclosure and move them around, so you can spray the underside of the plant’s leaves and allow the spray to reach inside any crevices (which is where many pests hide). Consequently, I rarely do this, as I don’t always have the luxury of time and I am anxious not to accidentally drop one of my plants. With this Phalaenopsis pulchra specimen’s ever extending flowering stems (or potential keikis) continually growing longer and longer, it has been very difficult to negotiate my way around this plant inside my Tall Orchidarium, while I’m spraying. This plant currently has at least five flowering stems, which protrude out from different areas of the plant and are all in various stages of development!
SB Plant Invigorator is biodegradable and non-toxic for humans and pets. I use the concentrated form of SB Plant Invigorator, which I dilute with rainwater or reverse osmosis water.
Here is this Phalaenopsis pulchra specimen’s first fully open flower, isn’t it magnificent? Honestly, this Phalaenopsis species is so glamorous and vivacious, it reminds me of my lovely friend Rose, who is just as charismatic. Phalaenopsis pulchra flowers are really quite startling, they gleam majestically in the sunlight and this inflorescence’s vivid colouring shouts out to greet us with a welcoming cheer!
This Phalaenopsis pulchra specimen’s flowers are fully open now, but so far I am still unable to detect any perfume from this orchid’s flower. I’ve enjoyed numerous close encounters with this plant, both in the daytime and at night, but I cannot detect any fragrance at all.
When I am hand misting orchids that are in bloom, I try not to directly spray water onto my plant’s flowers. If you can keep the flowers dry, it will help the blooms last longer.
Phalaenopsis pulchra produces these glossy flowers that are naturally resilient and long lasting. My plant’s flower is misted with rainwater each time my automated misting system operates. Currently, my MistKing misting unit is programmed to mist the plants inside my Tall Orchidarium twice a day.
I always recommend using rainwater, reverse osmosis water, or deionised water for watering, misting, and feeding orchids. Don’t use tap water to irrigate or mist your plants, as tap water tends to contain mineral salts that are detrimental to orchids. Never use softened water on any of your plants, as this type of treated water tends to be high in sodium, which will kill your plants.
Like many orchids, Phalaenopsis pulchra thrives in a humid environment. This is easily achieved by misting orchids with a hand-held spray bottle filled with rainwater. It’s easier to maintain a continually humid environment for your plants by growing Phalaenopsis pulchra inside a terrarium.
I find Phalaenopsis pulchra to be an easy to grow orchid. This orchid species doesn’t require any complicated care and grows happily in the temperatures inside my home.
Phalaenopsis pulchra flowers have a vibrant, polished appearance. The flowers really stand out; the blooms look especially handsome against the lovely light green leaves that this Phalaenopsis species produces.
I don’t know what will happen with all of this Phalaenopsis pulchra specimen’s flowering stems, but I am looking forward to seeing what this plant will do next! There are currently five stems, all of which are in various stages of development. Whatever happens with this Phalaenopsis pulchra orchid, I’ll tell you all about it in my future terrarium updates. (You can follow this Phalaenopsis pulchra plant by clicking here).
To see my update on how the Phalaenopsis orchids inside my Tall Orchidarium grew and developed, please click here.
Other articles that may interest you……..
To see a planting list of plants, orchids, and ferns, that thrive inside terrariums, vivariums, and bottle gardens, please click here.
To see how my Tall Orchidarium was designed and set up, please click here.
To see how my Rainforest Terrarium was set up and created, please click here.
To see my Orchidarium when it was first built, please click here.
For tips on using cork in terrariums, please click here.
For more terrarium articles, please click here.