Hi, some time ago I read an orchid grower's tip not to trim the stem after blooms faded because it would give the nutrients back to the plant and then dry out. I don't remember was it about a specific type or orchids in general. I wonder could it be true? I have only a few phals, a couple of dendrobiums and a Brsdm. (Brassidium?)
I never cut a spent spike until I get to know the plant. In the case of Phals, they often will form a new branch on the old spike, and bloom again. There are some that will bloom again, next year on seemingly dead spikes. Nageliella purpurea is an example that I have, and luckily the grower told me not to cut them off.
I agree, Carol. Lots of my Phals branch and re-bloom for months on the springtime stems. I only cut them off if they go brown and dry up, OR if the plant looks like it's getting into trouble - doing that wrinkly, wilty leaf thing. Then I cut off the spike right down at the base, and put the plant into deep shade for a rest. Mist the leaves, etc. and they usually revive.
I had a big Catt pop four gorgeous blooms out of what I thought were dry, dead sheaths, too! I'll never cut off another brown sheath again.
This little Phal was a rescue from the death rack at Lowe's, and had a huge 3ft long, gangly stem on it. I was really tempted to cut the darn thing off because the plant would NOT stay in the pot with that long, heavy stem. So glad I didn't! Just had to tie the plant in the pot . . .
I think I read somewhere that if you plan on showing your orchid (Phal.) for judging, the old, spent spikes should be cut off at the leaves, and only newly formed spikes should have flowers. Now IF you want to have more and more flowers each blooming cycle, after the spikes have finished blooming, cut the old spikes off down to green. Cut off all yellow-brown (dead) spike tissue. The spike(s) may die below your initial cut(s), so you may have to make cuts several times. I have included some pics of my Phal. The first pic was taken over a month ago and the others were taken today. There are three old spikes, and these spikes branched further. There are 28 flowers/buds on these three old spikes. Two new spikes formed, and there are 17 buds, with more forming, and only one of these buds has opened. The old spikes budded out and flowered at least three weeks before the new spikes did.
kirkkr, I have read that too, regarding show plants. Do keep an eye on that plant though. As dyzzy said they can bloom themselves to death. I had one that finally succumed after blooming continuesly for 11 months.
This is my only Phal. that is blooming size. It was given to me by a patient five years ago and she thought it was a dead/dying plant. It has now bloomed three consecutive years, each year with more spikes/blooms. This plant is very healthy and gets misting/watering every week and a 1/2 dose of fertilizer every-other-watering. I don't treat it any differently than any of my other (over 200) orchid plants. I think the keys to growing tropical plants successfully are not that different than growing any other "house" plant - good indirect or shaded light, good air circulation, adequate water and fertilizer (note that I use the term "adequate", not "abundent"), a temperature range between 50F and 95F, and well draining soil, or in the case of orchids, a fir bark mixture that I customize depending on the species. The only insect pests I ever have are ants that get into some of my orchids while they spend their spring-fall outside, and though I easily kill the ants with Orthene, the ants don't seem to harm the plants in any way.