A less commonly known orchid, the Phaius, named after the greek word "phaiso", meaning "dusky", a reference to their dark colored flowers. The column of the orchid resembles that of a Madonna giving it the nickname "Nun's Cap".
How to keep your Phaius healthy!
Phaius are tall growing, terrestrials orchids, and are one of the few orchids that can grow in soil in some areas. Their foliage is long and wide, hiding their pseudobulbs which store water and nutrients. Their showy flowers are typically about 4" wide. They bloom on the mature, new growth of the plant, typically in January, before going dormant.
Light: Bright, indirect, light. West windows are good provided there is no direct sun on the orchid. A south window with bright, light or away from the direct sunlight is also fine. The foliage should be medium green color, indicating the orchid is getting enough light to flower. Areas with good air circulation are ideal, however, avoid direct draft.
Temperature: The ideal temperature during the day is 75 to 85°F. Higher temperatures to 95°F will require less light and more air movement to prevent sunburn on the leaves. Night temperatures can range from 45-60°F. Some hybrids can tolerate colder temperatures in as low as 40°F, for short periods of time.
Watering: Watering should be done in the morning hours. You can water heavy overhead, or soak potted orchid in the sink for ten minutes. In cold areas, the water temperature should not be below 45°F. Watering with ice cubes in NOT recommended. In winter, water once per week and twice in summer, giving the Phaius a chance to dry out only slightly between waterings. Water more frequently in very, bright light conditions. When in doubt, check the bottom of the pot, if it looks dry, then water.
Feeding: Phaius are heavy feeders and require fertilizing at least every other watering. Use Gubler’s Pro Blend Orchid Food 19-8-16. This formula is exactly what we use to grow our Phaius. By feeding at least every other watering, you will be feeding more during the longer days of summer when the orchid requires more water, and less in the shorter days of winter.
Repotting: Should be done once every 12 to 18 months. It is best to repot after the Phaius is done flowering and begins to go dormant. Plants that have overgrown their container should be potted into a suitable container the next size larger. You may choose any container, provided it has good bottom drainage. We do not recommend pots with slits on the side. Transplant using Gubler's Orchid Grow Mix Fine Grade. Larger plants can be divided into groups of four pseudobulbs per pot.
What to expect: Phaius typically bloom once per year, with multiple flowers per stalk. They go dormant in late winter after flowering. They are unique, and make a wonderful addition to any orchid collection.