Botanical Name: Phalaenopsis species and hybrids
Worried about phalaenopsis orchid care? Don't be. The popular Phalaenopsis (aka Moth Orchid), is often called the "beginner's orchid" because of its tolerance to average room conditions.
With a few simple tips for growing orchids indoors, you'll have a gorgeous flowering plant that's in bloom for months in late winter and spring.
Beautiful and exotic orchids were once considered to be only for the expert greenhouse gardener. More widely available varieties and new hybrids have changed all that.
There are tens of thousands of varieties available...and their sizes, shapes, and colors vary greatly.
Each long, arching flower stem produces several flat-petaled blooms that open in succession from the bottom of the stem to the top. Blooms are available in pink, purple, white, red, or yellow, sometimes with spots, and often with contrasting lip and veins.
You can count on them to bloom year after year if you meet the needs for phalaenopsis orchid care: high humidity, bright light, moist-but-not-soggy soil, and fertilizing. It's work, yes -- but the results are oh-so worth it.
To repot...or not. Repotting orchid is necessary every couple years because the fine-grade fir bark they grow in will decompose. The best time to repot is in the spring, immediately after flowering.
Repotting tips: To repot, ease the plant out of its pot and shake off the old potting mix from the roots. Trim off any soft, rotted roots. Spread the remaining roots over fresh mix in the bottom of the new pot. Once positioned, fill the rest of the pot with mix to stabilize the phalaenopsis orchid, care taken so that the junction of the roots and stem are at the surface.
After the bloom. Once all the flowers have faded, cut off the flower stem about 1 inch from the base. Use sharp pruners to avoid tearing the stem, and cut at an angle. Removing the stem will encourage your moth orchid to flower again the following season.
Origin: Tropical Asia
Height: 1-2 ft (30-60 cm)
Light: Bright light. No direct sun. If you don't have enough light near a window, you can put Phalaenopsis under fluorescent lights. Place the plant 6-12 in (15-30 cm) beneath the light fixture for 12 to 16 hours a day.
Water: Water the mix thoroughly, then allow the top inch to dry out between waterings. Do not let the soil get soggy because it causes root rot.
Humidity: High humidity is a must -- 60-80% humidity is ideal. Mist leaves every morning and set pot on a tray of wet pebbles.
Temperature: 60-65°F/16-18°C nights and 75-80°F/24-27°C days
Soil: Orchid potting mix, or finely ground fir bark.
Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks spring through fall with a fertilizer specially made for orchids. Do not feed in winter.
Propagation: Divide the mature plant when it becomes crowded in its pot. It's best to do this in the spring, immediately after blooming is over.
To ensure blooming, give your orchid slightly cooler nighttime temperatures. A 15° difference will do.
It also requires bright, indirect sunlight. This plant does well under fluorescent lights, too.
Phalaenopsis orchids grow as epiphytes in the tropical rainforests, growing on tree branches where they anchor themselves with their thick roots.
Epiphyte comes from the Greek words epi meaning upon and phyton meaning plant.
Choose a plant with plenty of unopened flower buds. Each bloom lasts for weeks, and you'll enjoy a succession of blooms that last for months.
Phalaenopsis orchid care is just as easy as any other flowering house plant.