Phalaenopsis- reblooming question

mikee77January 14, 2013

If I cut the flowering stalk at a node below the faded blooms to encourage further blooming, I understand that I can get it to bloom again. If I do that and keep the plant blooming, won't this take strength from the plant since blooming requires so much (especially if I do this more than 1 time)? I would think this would hurt the long term health of the plant or cause other problems...

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Mike, interesting question but think of it this way: in an evolutionary context, if blooming were harmful to a plant, would nature have allowed it to do that? Blooming is something a phal will do if it is healthy enough, not something a plant does to the detriment of its health.

If you've given your plant good culture, theres a chance that it will branch out. If its unhealthy the plant will simply blast the spike.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 8:00PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

Mikee, there is a long thread that discusses this question in some detail. Link below. From an evolutionary aspect this reflowering trait on some Phals and Tolumnia is handy....a bug comes along and eats the growing tip on the spike, not a worry, the plant still gets to flower.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to previous thread

This post was edited by arthurm on Tue, Jan 15, 13 at 1:06

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 12:44AM
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Many thanks. I understand that Phals are made to bloom, but reblooming over and over probably doesn't happen in nature much. So it gives me pause to make them do that.

Thanks for the info and the link- I see many others have thought about this too. Definitely good info. Thank you.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 1:41AM
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westoh Z6


Cut the spike 1/2" from where it emerges from the plant. The flower(s) that form from the side branch of a cut spike aren't generally impressive and not worth the 'hassle' to the orchid IMO. Let it use it's strength for growing better spikes next year.

Personal opinion, YMMV, etc.... and good luck.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 4:13PM
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I agree with Bob.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 8:28PM
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I would...agree and disagree with you Bob. Mike has never had a phal branch off before and there is something magical about experiencing it, even if it does wind up being rather disappointing, a characterization I halfheartedly agree with you on....depends on the culture the plant is receiving.

IMO, Mike, it would definitely be worth it to play around and see what happens. As I indicated, I somewhat agree with Bob: in many cases the branch off reblooming isn't as impressive. You might get a few flowers off of it, but the display overall isn't very pleasing. Fewer flowers and the spike grows off at an odd angle. But many people might say that as long as the plant is healthy, enjoy any and all flowers you can squeeze. And you'd be surprised. There are many species that will naturally bloom over and over again. In hybrids you get something called hybrid vigor. Long story short, in most ways the hybrid is stronger/better grower/more pest resistant than the species parents. The hybrids can take the extra blooming. If they can't, again, they won't allow themselves to bloom. This is a universal truth (baring certain species): you would not believe how many people have issues reblooming their plants as a result of subpar culture conditions. Happy plant=blooming plant.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 12:25AM
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westoh Z6

All right, some minor excitement and disagreement on GW!!!

The reverse side of that is that you cause the orchid to drag along trying to support the new blooms and it never really reaches it full potential because of this constant struggle. If the plant is growing optimally maybe, but (sorry making an ass-u-me-tion here Mikee) if a grower is considering trying to induce a side branch on a phal, they probably are fairly new to growing 'kids and are struggling to provide optimum conditions and culture.

Again, sorry if I put you into a incorrect 'category' Mikee.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 6:46AM
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Uh oh, controversy! Haven't seen that here in a long time :)

Not all newbies give bad culture, Bob. I've known many that get off to a very good start with their first plant. I did (subsequent plants are a different matter...). You can't make *ass-u-me-tions* (*snicker*) like that. Its fair to say they are new, but you have no idea what condition the plant is in, and its neither fair nor helpful to make assumptions in this respect. Hence why I hedged my bets in my first post explaining good/bad condition results.

I think you are really overstating the situation by saying the orchid "drags along supporting new blooms, thus never reaches its full potential". It won't drag along at all. It will drag along if given inadequate culture, not because its blooming. I've had a NOID sunset/peach shade phal that has bloomed non-stop for approximately 3 years (can't remember exactly when I got it). Even when it developed crown rot, it threw up a new flower spike AND basal keiki which is also in spike. Not at all suffering or missing a beat. It has branches left and right and has not been without at least a spike since I've had it. So you can't draw a broad conclusion by saying that constant blooming would be a drag on the plant. Its dependent on too many things, so very generalized statements such as this are meaningless.

Mike, hope you aren't scared off! This disagreement really is over a VERY minuscule aspect of growing, and really is not terribly consequential in the broad scheme of things. You basically can do no wrong no matter what you do with your spike. Myself, I always err on the side of exploration and experimentation; experiencing these things is how we learn about our plants and how they work.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 11:51AM
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westoh Z6

I totally disagree with your assessment, I've always, always heard that forcing 2nd generation flowers causes some undue stress on a phal. I also think there is a big difference between forcing a phal to send out a secondary branch and having a multiple spiked plant that blooms for years, that seems to be something based on prodigy not caused by forcing side branches.

Give it a shot Mikee and see if you think it will be worth it for a couple of odd orientated flowers as seen in the thread arthurm posted above...I forced a few several years back when I first got started, but then I'm hard-headed and had to see for myself :-). Trying to save you the 'possible' year or so it 'might' take to recover.

Good luck,


    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 1:56PM
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Not sure what about these facts you disagree with. Lets be clear on a couple points:

Hearing second hand and seeing are two different things. Facts on the ground don't exactly bare out what you've heard. Particularly for multifloral breeding. You don't even know what phal we are talking about here. So you can't say its going to create a drag on the health of the plant when many are genetically predisposed to doing so, and not to their detriment...see my previous example of non-stop blooming phal and multifloral breeding.

Secondly, cutting the spike to a node doesn't "force" anything, so lets do away with that verbage. Branching is by no means guaranteed, not even for healthy plants. I have 20+phals at my retail greenhouse that are living proof of this, as are the millions of people who have performed the same action only to have the flower spike die back with out blooming. So if you aren't forcing, blooming will be dependent on other factors. We've seen it over and over again, flowering of any kind, be it branching or starting from the base, is a direct function of the health of the plant (a reflection of its culture). Unhealthy, root rotted/heavily infested plants are not likely going to bloom (not counting the death spike here). Please refer to the countless "why won't my orchid bloom" threads on this forum. You cannot disagree with this, this is fact.

So it is wholly illogical to make a sweeping statement that an ill plant with the blooming habits of many phals would allow itself to proceed in a self-destructive cycle.

And again, you make way too many assumptions here, so your conclusions are questionable at best. You don't know the condition of the plant, the culture its receiving, or even what kind of phal it is. How can you give good advice if you don't have the full picture? You can't just assume the plant is in bad condition and is only going to suffer if it continues to bloom. Those assumptions off the bat are the essence of bad advice.

And of course, no disrespect here! :) Just friendly disagreement.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 3:20PM
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I'm not an expert and there certainly has been enthusiastic discussion to Mikee's questions. All I can say is what I do. I'm a newbie Phal owner, got my first one in July 2011. I'm not a newbie plant grower, however, as I have quite a jungle in my house. My obsession with plants is almost as big as my obsession with horses (and I breed warmbloods!).

I have 3 Phals - a pure white P. Angela, an officially unnamed yellow which I call Buttercup, and a white/purple/spotted one to which I have completely lost the name for. These 3 are enthusiastic bloomers and need little encouragment. They bloomed from July-August 2011 until finally the last flower withered on Miss Polka-Dot mid October 2012. During that whole time they self-branched, grew new spikes, and produced new blooms just as large and impressive as the original spikes. The plants never seemed to suffer. They also grew up new leaves. Even while they were blooming, I repotted carefully into slightly bigger pots and changed their medium to orchid bark mixed with moss. I thought repotting would stunt them, but they took off like greased lightning - orchid style - and produced more leaves and masses of flowers!

The plants have never really been completely quiet, usually growing bigger leaves or new leaves. Since December, they've been really busy putting out new flower buds. Yesterday all 3 opened their first blooms. I counted 30 flower buds on Angela, 15 on Buttercup but there will be many more as a new branch has started off the main spike, and there are 20 buds on Miss Polka-Dot but 2 new spikes coming up so there will oodles more. The flowers are even larger this year than they were last year.

I didn't do much to encourage this - I rarely fertilize, they get immersed in a bucket of water for 30 minutes every 2 weeks or whenever I remember, and otherwise they sit in a north-northeast window where they get 4-6 hours of filtered morning sunlight. I don't spritz, but they do live with my jungle so that can add to general humidity, but otherwise I do nothing to increase humidity. I don't cut the spikes at all unless they are dying back. I guess what I'm saying is you don't need to cut the spike to force blooming on some phals. Some just like to bloom no matter what you do. If you provide plenty of light, they seem to really love it.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 5:42PM
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westoh Z6

I'm not trying to put anyone down, just that 'newer' growers usually are the ones to force a side branch by cutting the spike back to a lower node, sorry if I offended anyone. IMO, new growers usually means less expereince and a bit of trial and error is being done.

I've grown and killed many phals over the last 12+ years, I do have a little 'on the ground' experience :). I am talking about forcing side branches by cutting the spike back to a third node (Mikee7's original question was if he should do this and would it affect the plant) after it finished blooming and before the spike dies. Again I think there is huge difference between a plant naturally doing this (again prodigy) and it being forced to by cutting the spike back to a lower node.

In my opinion, what terp and ssuarkc are referring to are what I'm calling good prodigy orchids that naturally branch and grow for extended periods. I have several species plants and a few hybrids that have been in bloom or in spike/bud for several years.

That said, I'm just trying to respond to the original question about forcing it to branch 'un-naturally' and if it would negatively affect the plant. I feel it would/does in most cases.

Good discussion.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 7:13AM
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If you cut the spike down all the way to the crown, the spike will not branch, the plant will produce a new spike or spikes.

The flowers will be bigger and better organized on the new spike. Reflowering an old spike on a hybrid Phal is not attractive. You wind up with a long, scraggly spike with a few small flowers.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! I always cut off the spike.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 11:03PM
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Ssuarkc- maybe your luck comes from having nick-names for your Phals!

I too love all plants and flowers, I would love to have a "jungle" but my windows just don't let in enough light. During the summer my porches are loaded with annuals, which do well for me.

Another horse lover here and I'm looking for another horse at this time and I am crossing over to a warmblood. Would love an Art Deco or Sempatico offspring! Though, finding one has been a challenge for me. Either they are too big, too young or a hunter build.
Did you know that Art Deco passed away a few weeks ago? What a
special and beautiful horse, he will be missed.
C u @ x

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 7:38PM
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Well I am one of those 'newbees' to the Phal Orchids and after I bought it in full bloom, I decided to 'risk' losing it or whatever and cut the spike just above a node. It has rewarded me more than I could imagine. The blooms do not look any smaller than when I bought it and since the force another spike appeared with ample buds, even more so when I bought it. Now as recently as a couple of days ago, I see another spike coming from the top leaves center, which promises me more buds...So I say go for it.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 7:34PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

This is the eternal question. Have a look at this picture taken at an orchid society meeting...

You will be hard pressed to find a rebloomed spike. It doesn't matter all that much because those hard hearted orchid judges will still judge a rebloomed spike but such a flowering will not get many mental points for habit and arrangement.
Of course there are exceptions such as primary hybrids where the plant might be best left to do its thing.

AND, I have a rescue Phal. given to me to revive from deaths door. It has sentimental value to its owner so i have cut the spike to a node and sure enough it is going to bloom from there. It goes back to the owner next week.

This post was edited by arthurm on Fri, Mar 22, 13 at 22:00

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 9:46PM
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I would consider myself a newbie. I have 9 Phals, some bought at big box stores (HD, Lowes, Wallyworld), some bought online, and some at an orchid show. Most are big with approx 6 - 10 large leaves 8" or more, some are very small like 1-3 small leaves. Some of the small ones bought at the orchid show are in spike or bloom with only 1 leaf. 8 are in spike in total. One was in bloom when it was given to me with 2 spikes. I have tried to re bloom once before by cutting the 2nd node. That's a large orchid with 6 - 10 large leaves. About 3 weeks ago the one I was given dropped all its blooms after they expired, so I saw on a TV garden show to cut above the 4th node for re-bloom, which I did on both spikes and both have new side spike with 6 buds each spike some buds already 1" in diameter, opening soon. It has 6 leaves. So far in 3 years I have not lost any Orchids dispute not knowing the secret of blooming. A 10 degree temp difference between day and night, until the 2nd year. In the last 10 months I have bought different types of Orchids to try and conquer. In my garden room, it faces NNW getting only evening sun through Loe Glass windows.

So I ask, why is a small 1 leaf orchid in bloom or spike ok but re blooming a 6-10 large leaf one is not advised?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 9:42PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

There is no right or wrong advice on this matter, if i am at an orchid show and selling a Phalaenopsis to someone who has nil orchid growing knowledge.....i tell them to cut down to a node.

Different advice given to here where i say to cut standard run of the mill Phal. spikes off at the base. Hopefully people reading posts here want to progress beyond newbie stage.

Look and click on the pic. on my post up a little bit. Those Phals are owned by some of the better growers in a local orchid society, no rebloomed spikes there and precious few seen at the many orchid shows in my 40 years of orchid growing.

Phals are not my speciality, in fact they are difficult here.
The main Genera i grow are Tolumnia Hybrids....if i cut the nearly spent blooms off to a node many will rebloom but the flower count is always less.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 1:25AM
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I would guess that Orchids at an Orchid show are way too early to re bloom, in other words I just got back from one and all the orchids were in first bloom. Just like all of mine. In fact all of mine have not fully opened yet. The one I have that is re blooming was given to me in Dec that was bought at a big box store, so its about to re bloom at the same time as the first bloom ones.
I don't think you answered the question though.

So I ask, why is a small 1 leaf orchid in bloom or spike ok but re blooming a 6-10 large leaf one is not advised?

Another point Many orchid books teach one how to re bloom orchids, The garden show I watched was a very advanced orchid grower 40+ years experience. Hardley a beginner..

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 12:48PM
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