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Phalaenopsis (Moth Orchids)

Moth Orchids

Phalaenopsis, Moth Orchids, Easy to grow Orchids

Phalaenopsis (Moth Orchids) is a genus of 60 species and several natural hybrids growing in tropical Asia to the Pacific Islands and Australia. These orchids are usually epiphytic (growing on trees), but occasionally lithophytic (growing on rocks) or terrestrial. They are among the most popular cultivated orchids and thousands of hybrids have been made throughout the years.

Phalaenopsis have a monopodial growth habit and lack pseudobulbs. They produce oval, fleshy leaves sometimes flushed with purple or mottled with gray or silver, which makes the plants attractive even when not in flower.

The showy flattened flowers are generally long-lasting (4 months or more) and they come in a myriad of colors with spots and stripe combinations. The inflorescences range from short with few flowers to very branched floriferous stems. Healthy plants can flower often, sometimes with a few flowers throughout the year, though the main season is late winter into spring.

As an added bonus, some species are sweetly fragrant.

Moth Orchids are particularly beautiful and fairly easy to grow in the home or in the greenhouse. Adaptable, they are perfect for the beginner gardener.

Guide Information

Hardiness 10 - 12
Plant Type Houseplants, Orchids
Genus Phalaenopsis
Exposure Partial Sun
Height 10" - 3'
(25cm - 90cm)
Spread 6" - 2'
(15cm - 60cm)
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen
Landscaping Ideas Patio And Containers
Phalaenopsis amabilis (Moth Orchid)
Phalaenopsis bellina (Moth Orchid)
Phalaenopsis Brother Pico Sweetheart gx (Moth Orchid)

Growing Phalaenopsis

Light

Moth Orchids are low-light orchids. They require shady conditions as in their natural habitats. Grow your Moth Orchid in a bright window, with little or no sun. An east or west window or near a shaded south window are ideal.

Temperatures

Moth Orchids need a minimum night temperature of 61-66°F (16-19°C) and a daytime temperature of 75-85°F (24-29°C). Night temperatures to 55°F (13°C) are desirable for several weeks in the fall to initiate flower spikes. Fluctuating temperatures can cause bud drops on plants with buds ready to open.

Water

Because of the absence of any water-retaining pseudobulbs, Moth Orchids need a moist medium – never soggy, but never dry. Water regularly throughout the growing season. Reduce watering slightly during the winter. Do not let the roots dry out completely. Avoid letting the plant sit in water. Mist the plant lightly in summer.
Avoid overwatering, and be careful to keep water out of the crown of the plant. Water can collect in the natural depression formed by the arching new leaf, and if coupled with low air circulation, it can cause this tender new growth to rot.
Water only in the morning so that the leaves dry by nightfall. This will prevent rot.

Humidity

Maintain high humidity (50-80%) for most of the year by setting the plant on a tray of gravel partially filled with water so the pot never sits in water.

Fertilization

Feed regularly during the growing season with a proprietary orchid fertilizer but reduce the frequency and/or strength of feeding in winter. Apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer twice a month if bark-based media is used. Otherwise, a balanced fertilizer is best. When flowering is desired, a high-phosphorus fertilizer can be applied to promote blooming. In winter, fertilizer applications once a month are sufficient.

Phalaenopsis cornu-cervi (Moth Orchid)
Phalaenopsis PAPAGAYO (Moth Orchid)
Phalaenopsis schilleriana (Moth Orchid)

Potting

The best time to repot is in the spring, immediately after flowering, or when new roots with green tips emerge at the base of the plant.
Repotting should be done yearly or every three years, or as the medium decomposes. Moth Orchids must be potted in a porous mix.
To repot, remove all the old medium from the roots, snip off any diseased or dead roots, and spread the remaining roots over a handful of medium in the bottom of a new pot. Fill the rest of the pot with medium, working it among the roots, so that the junction of the roots and the stem is at the top of the medium. Gently ensure the compost is pressed down firmly around the perimeter of the pot. Drain the plant thoroughly and do not allow it to sit in water.

Propagation

Propagate by division. Cuttings or offshoots may be rooted successfully when roots are 1 in. long (2.5 cm).

Pests and diseases

Moth Orchids are generally disease free. Keep an eye out for aphids, glasshouse red spider mite,s and mealybugs.

Tip for reblooming

If a plant is large and healthy but does not produce flowers in a reasonable time, then reduce the temperature by 8°F (5°C) for four weeks, and a flower spike will usually develop.

Discover These Helpful Orchid Guides for Further Reading

Easy Orchids to Grow
Best Orchids for your Home
Orchids: How to Grow and Care with Success
Dendrobium (Orchids)
Masdevallia (Flag Orchids)
Zygopetalum (Orchids)
Phaius (Orchids)
Phragmipedium (Slipper Orchids)
Vanda (Orchids)
Cymbidium (Boat Orchids)
Cattleya (Corsage Orchids)
Oncidium (Dancing Lady Orchids)
Paphiopedilum (Slipper Orchids)
Dactylorhiza (Marsh Orchids)
Bletilla (Hardy Orchids)
Odontoglossum (Butterfly Orchids)
Miltoniopsis (Pansy Orchids)
Cypripedium (Lady Slipper Orchid)
Compare All Phalaenopsis (Moth Orchid)
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While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 10 - 12
Plant Type Houseplants, Orchids
Genus Phalaenopsis
Exposure Partial Sun
Height 10" - 3'
(25cm - 90cm)
Spread 6" - 2'
(15cm - 60cm)
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen
Landscaping Ideas Patio And Containers
Compare All Phalaenopsis (Moth Orchid)
Compare Now

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