Phalaenopsis schilleriana Orchid Care & Culture

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Species Name: Phalaenopsis schilleriana

Care Group: See Phalaenopsis Orchid Caresheet

Habitat of schilleriana & Inferred Cultural Tips

Elevation: 450m
Distribution: Philippines
Other Phalaenopsis species from this area: amabilis, philippinensis, sanderiana, stuartiana, micholitzii, hieroglyphica, pallens, fasciata, mariae, reichenbachiana, pulchra, bastianii, equestris
Temperature: Warm to Hot (Days: 27-35C, Nights: 18-24C)
Seasonal Variation: Yes – Dry, Cool, & Bright Winters

Flowering Habit of Phal schilleriana

Spike Initiation: Cool Spiker – Temps (15-17C Nights)
Bloom Time: Late January
Fragrant: Yes – like powdery roses

Phal schilleriana Overview

A popular species among orchid collections. Phalaenopsis schilleriana flowers are often fragrant, they’re vigorous plants, and the flowers really embrace that “moth orchid” look. Above all, the leaves are spectacular with their mottled-leaf banding and patterns which makes them desirable even when the plants are not in bloom.

I have the ‘Silver-Leaf schilleriana’ which has nearly fully mottled leaves rather than banded; this variant comes from the Sabah region of Malaysia. The more common banded varieties come from Luzon and other smaller islands surrounding the Philippine Archipelago.

 

Phalaenopsis schilleriana Care

Potting mix – these orchids need an open and airy potting media and they don’t respond well to being wet for prolonged periods of time. Some sphagnum can be used to help retain moisture in dry climates, but do so at a lower ratio (<20%). It is likely not a good candidate for water culture or semihydro.

This is one of the few phals I own that grows very long roots in my dry climate – most other species tend to seek the moist media in an effort to stay hydrated but will abort if they don’t get to the moist potting mix. Phal schilleriana on the other hand seems well adapted to dry conditions and the roots (which are well over a foot long) will continue growing year after year. This leads me to believe they are specifically adapted to dryness and likely are not well adapted to excessively-moist conditions.

Light – I grow my phal schilleriana in the brightest area of bedroom; it sits on the left side of my East-facing window and it gets full sun until nearly noon. I should note: my windows are made for Canadian winters and therefore they may block or reflect a substantial amount of “direct sun” compared to thinner, cost-effective windows often used in more mild climates. This may also mean that while my plant grows in bright light it may not in fact be “full sun”; be mindful of these concepts when comparing my conditions to your own.

Because the window I grow my plants at faces East, I also run an LED grow light in the after noon (after the sun passes over the building and the plants are in the shade). The grow lights are on from 12-5pm.

Watering – Phal schilleriana responds well to distinct wet/dry cycles. You ideally want the roots in the pot to be fully dry within 3-5 days allowing them to have a couple days of being bone dry before watering again. When you water, irrigate the roots abundantly and drench all roots taking time to spray down the dry and exposed roots as well as the ones in the pot.

You might find it’s helpful to soak the pot and roots for up to 20 minutes; however, just make sure that after you are done watering/soaking, that the pot is not left to sit in any residual water that drains. Roots which stay too wet for prolonged periods of time may rot easily.

Longer leaves & pH – Back when I first started experimenting with pH and adjusting my tap water from 7.9 down to 5.8, the phal schilleriana responded the most profoundly compared to any other plant I experimented with. In a single season the next set of leaves doubled their length from the ones grown before I started pH-adjusting. I’m not suggesting that you’ll need to pH adjust, but I think it’s important to include this note as this one plant made me see the difference pH adjusting could make for my plants. If you want to know more about how I adjust the pH of my fertilizer water, refer to this post on my custom pH Down formula.

Flowering – Phal schilleriana is a winter spiking phalaenopsis and will require cool temps for spike initiation. They respond well to prolonged cooling down to about 16c (nights) during spike and bud development; but do not confuse this – the plants are still tropical plants, they do not want COLD temps. A slight cooling in the winter simply triggers flower development and indicates a change in season is coming.

Spike development is slow and takes between 3.5-4.5 months from first spike to open flowers. Keeping your temperatures on the cooler end (16-18c) will mean more flowers, but slower spike growth.

Flower Count: In 2018 my plant flowered with 14 blooms on one spike; the following year (2019) it produced 27 flowers on 2 spikes and this year (2020) there were 35 flowers on two spikes. The plant has the potential to have hundreds of blooms and specimen-sized plants can make an impressive display.

 

Phalaenopsis schilleriana Photos

A new record with 35 flowers, Feb 2020

Phal schilleriana Winter 2019

 

Phal schilleriana Summer 2018
(when I started pH adjusting – you can see the change in leaf length)
Phal schilleriana 2018
Phal schilleriana Spring 2017
(This was the year I got the plant)

Newly purchased Phal schilleriana – Apr 7, 2017

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