How to grow and care for Nun Orchid (Phaius Orchid) Indoors

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Nun Orchid Care, Phaius Orchid Care

Botanical name: Phaius spp
Tribe: Collabieae
Common names: Nun Orchid, Swamp Orchid

Nun Orchid Description

Nun Orchids also called Swamp Orchids are popular, easy to grow orchids and are considered ideal for a beginner. The blooms in Nun Orchids are produced on tall spikes each bearing a cluster of 10-20 flowers.

They are called Nun Orchids in reference to their curved upper sepal and petals that are white on the back side resembling a nun's cap.

The flowers in Nun Orchids are long-lasting and delicately fragrant. The colors range from brown to maroon, often with a white or pink lip.

Nun Orchids are evergreen, terrestrial herbs with thin underground rhizomes and crowded above ground and sometimes stem-like pseudobulbs.

The leaves in Nun Orchids are several, pleated, stalked and emerge from the pseudobulb.

Nun Orchids were first formally described in 1790 by Joao de Loureiro (a Portuguese Jesuit missionary and botanist). The genus name Phaius is derived from the Greek word phaios meaning "dusky" or "brown" in reference to the brownish color of flowers.

Nun Orchid Origin

Nun Orchids are native to tropical parts of Africa, Asia, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, Australia and various islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Nun Orchids are found growing on the humid, tropical forest floors. They prefer moderate light and warm temperatures.

Nun Orchid Care, Phaius Orchid Care

Nun Orchid (Phaius Orchid) Care Indoors

Nun Orchid Light Requirements

Nun Orchid grows best in bright, indirect light away from direct sunshine. Keep your Nun Orchid away from direct sunshine to avoid sun scorch on the leaves.

Regularly turn the pot to ensure your Nun Orchid gets adequate light on all sides for uniform growth. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants

How to Water Nun Orchid

For lush growth and regular blooms, water your Nun Orchid thoroughly during the growing period and allow the soil to dry out between waterings.

Reduce watering for your Nun Orchid in the cold period as growth is minimal at this time. Avoid soggy soil as it can cause the orchid to rot.

Provide a dry spell of about 4-6 weeks for your Nun Orchid, every 6 months to promote blooming. As in their natural habitat, Nun Orchids usually bloom at the end of dry spells.

Use tepid, chlorine-free water as Nun Orchids are sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals dissolved in water. Avoid wetting the foliage as it can lead to fungal diseases.

Nun Orchids are more tolerant of dry soil conditions due to the presence of pseudobulbs and their thick leaves. Read more on how to water houseplants.


Temperature for Nun Orchid

The best temperatures for your Nun Orchids are between 10-290C.

Warmer days and cooler night temperatures are ideal for Nun Orchids. Cool nights are essential to trigger flowering.

Ensure there is good air circulation as Nun Orchids cannot tolerate hot and stuffy conditions.

Protect your Nun orchid from draughts. Check out this guide on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity for Nun Orchid

High humidity is essential for your Nun Orchid to thrive. Set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity for your Nun Orchids.

Do not mist the leaves of your Nun Orchids as it can lead to fungal diseases. Check out these techniques on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Occasionally clean the leaves of your Nun Orchids by damp-wiping with a soft cloth. Read more on how to clean houseplants.

Fertilizer (Feeding) for Nun Orchid

Feed Nun Orchid every 3 weeks with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer.

Withhold feeding your Nun Orchid during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time. Do not feed an orchid that is in flower.

In feeding your Nun Orchid, it is better to err on the side of underfeeding than overfeeding.

Overfeeding your Nun Orchid may result in the loss of roots thus death of the orchid. It can also lead to vegetative growth instead of flower production. Read more on how to feed houseplants.

How to repot Nun Orchid

Nun Orchid blooms best when they are pot-bound. Repot your Nun Orchid only when growth begins to suffer.

Repot your Nun Orchid when the orchid has outgrown its pot and the new growth reaches out over the edge of the pot or when the soil has broken down completely.

It is advisable to repot your Nun Orchid only when new growth begins, shortly after blooming is over.

Repot your Nun Orchid into a pot with proper drainage holes or slits as the roots need good air circulation.

The pot should be only 1 size larger than the previous one. Use loose, free-draining bark soil to repot your Nun Orchid.

When repotting, shake off excess soil and trim off any dried and shrivelled pseudobulbs in your Nun Orchid.

How to prune Nun Orchid

Pruning Nun Orchid is easy. Remove dead and diseased leaves by cutting them at the base with sharp scissors or a knife. Make clean cuts and avoid injuring your Nun Orchid unnecessarily.

When flowering is over for your Oncidium Orchid, cut the flower stalk 1 in. above the 3rd node from the bottom to encourage more flowers.

Nun Orchid (Phaius Orchid) Propagation

Nun Orchid propagation can be done at the beginning of the growing season once flowering is over by rhizome division.

How to propagate Nun Orchid by rhizome division

Gently split the Nun Orchid rhizome into sections. Leave at least 3 shoots on each section.

Seperate the roots attached to each Nun Orchid division from the mother's root ball.

Remove the old potting soil attached to the roots of the Nun Orchid division.

Place each section of the Nun Orchid division in the center of the pot.

Bury the roots of the Nun Orchid division in the soil while ensuring that the bottom of the pseudobulb is level with the top of the soil.

The best pot for your Nun Orchid division should be about 1-2 in. larger than the pseudobulb.

Ensure the pot for your Nun Orchid division has enough drainage holes and slits to prevent root-rot.

Place the set up in a shaded place until the new Nun Orchid division have established their own roots.

Water the new Nun Orchids lightly to enhance root development. Stake each newly repotted plant to prevent it from toppling over.

Nun Orchid Care, Phaius Orchid Care

Nun Orchid (Phaius Orchid) Problems Indoors

Nun Orchid has brown, soft leaf spots

Brown soft spots on Nun Orchid leaves are an indication of fungal leaf spot disease.

Remove the affected leaves from your Nun Orchid immediately to prevent further spread.

Nun Orchid has brown hard, dry leaf spots

Exposure of your Nun Orchid to direct sunshine will result in scorch marks which are brown, hard and dry spots on the leaves.

Move your Nun Orchid to a shadier spot or protect it from direct sunshine to prevent it from getting the sunscorch marks.

Nun Orchid has mold on the leaves

This is an indication of powdery mildew disease in your Nun Orchid.

Misting the leaves in Nun Orchid may lead to mildew growth if the water does not evaporate quickly.

Ensure that there is good air circulation for your Nun Orchid and stop misting it.

Nun Orchid has limpy and drooping leaves

Limpy and drooping leaves in Nun Orchid are caused by underwatering. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Water your Nun Orchid thoroughly, maintain the soil consistently moist and allow only the top half of the soil to dry out between waterings.

Nun Orchid has dark-green leaves

Dark green leaves in your Nun Orchid indicate that your orchid is not getting enough light.

Move your Nun Orchid to a brighter spot where it will receive bright, indirect light away from direct sunshine. The leaves of a Nun Orchid that is receiving the correct light should be light green.

Nun Orchid has yellowish leaves

Yellowish leaves in Nun Orchid indicate that your orchid is getting too much light.

Move your Nun Orchid to a shadier spot where it will receive bright, indirect light away from direct sunshine. The leaves of a Nun Orchid that is receiving the correct amount of light should be light green.

Nun Orchid has black and dying leaf tips

The cause of black and dying leaf tips in Nun Orchid is the presence of chemicals like chlorine and flourides in the water that you are using to water it.

Water your Nun Orchid with chlorine-free water only as like other orchids, it is sensitive to chemicals in the water and the soil.

Nun Orchid not blooming (flowering)

The cause for Nun Orchid not blooming or flowering is too little light. If the light is too little, your orchid will not make adequate food for energy and other functions like blooming.

Move your Nun Orchid to a brighter spot where it will receive bright, indirect light but away from direct sunshine.

Is Nun Orchid (Phaius Orchid) toxic?

Nun Orchids (Phaius Orchid) are non-toxic to both humans and pets. They are safe to grow indoors.

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