The kaleidoscope orchid is also known as Baldan’s kaleidoscope. It is a Phalaenopsis orchid or moth orchid which produce broad flowers that resemble moths. The kaleidoscope orchid produces 3-foot-long stems with 4-inch blossoms. These flowers are yellow with reddish-purple stripes. Each bloom has red lips in the center of the blossom. The main flowering season takes place in the late winter and spring. The flowers last 80 to 120 days, but can be less when exposed to fumes from propane, natural gas, cigarettes and vehicles.
Look at leaf color when purchasing a kaleidoscope orchid. They should not droop and be a medium green color with a smooth texture. Choose an orchid that has one flower open with the other buds shut. This gives you an indication of what the flowers look like while presenting an orchid just starting its blossoming cycle. Check the buds for withering. Look for a plant that is in good condition, and not one with an overly wet root ball.
Water the kaleidoscope orchid whenever the root ball is dry. Remove any fancy wrap from around the plant pot that will hold water close to the roots and cause rot. Place the orchid in a sink and pour water through the root ball. Allow the water to completely drain out and return the orchid back to its growing area. On average, water the kaleidoscope orchid once a week. In dry climates, you may have to water every other day, but in cool winter climates the watering cycle may be every 10 days. Never let the orchid dry out completely between watering. Water in the mornings so the leaves can dry out by the time cool temperatures develop when night falls. Do not use softened water, since it will kill your kaleidoscope orchid.
Kaleidoscope orchid grows well in bright light, but not in direct sunlight. Place the orchid in an east-, south- or west-facing window to give the kaleidoscope orchid the filtered, indirect light it needs. These orchids can grow under artificial light as well. Use four fluorescent light tubes placed 6 to 12 inches above the plant for 12 to 16 hours daily. Ideal daytime temperature is 70 to 85 degrees F, and nighttime temperature is 60 to 65 degrees F. Higher temperatures will increase foliage growth. The kaleidoscope orchid needs several weeks of 55 degree F temperatures in the fall to develop flowers. If the temperature fluctuates wildly, flower buds may fall off the stem.
The kaleidoscope orchid needs humidity in the 50 to 80 percent range. In order to achieve this type of humidity in the home, place the orchid on a tray of gravel that is partly filled with water. As the water evaporates under the plant pot, it raises the humidity level. Never set the plant pot in standing water and do not mist the orchid since it may cause the plant to rot. Kaleidoscope orchids require feeding twice a month with a 30-10-10 fertilizer at quarter strength during the growth period in the spring and fall. Switch to 10-30-20 fertilizer to promote flower production during the winter.
The kaleidoscope orchid needs re-potting every three years. This is done in the spring after the flowering is over. Mix 1 part peat moss, 6 parts fir bark with 1 part granular charcoal to create a porous soil mixture. The plant pot does not need to be changed, just the soil because it has lost its nutrients. Remove all the soil from the kaleidoscope orchid’s roots. Trim away any soft, rotted roots that are present. Place a handful of soil mixture in the bottom of the plant pot and spread the orchid roots over the soil. Fill the plant pot the rest of the way with the soil mixture. Firm the soil gently and water to finish settling the soil.
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