Moth orchids (Phalaenopsis sp.) look delicate, but are actually a very hardy plant that are easy to grow in a container at home. A testament to their hardiness is the fact that this orchid is the most common variety, sold year around most anywhere fresh flowers are sold. Moth orchids, also referred to as Phals, are often displayed in public places, such as medical and business offices – another testament to the plants hardiness and easy maintenance. If you’re interested in how to grow Moth orchids or already own one and wish to find out how to care for moth orchids and make it healthy, you came to the right place. You can use these care tips to ensure success with a plant that will reward you with blooms almost year around.
Growing Location of Moth Orchids
Moth orchids grow well indoors where the air is kept heated in winter and cooled in summer. The average home or office temperature of between 70 to 80 daytime degrees and around 60 nighttime degrees is perfect for Phals to thrive. Consistent temperature are essential for plant growth and bloom production. Drastic temperature changes will impair bloom production and longevity. Phalaenopsis orchids should also be placed in a location where forced air from heating or cooling vents will not blow directly on them. Place plants away from exterior doors to avoid chilly drafts that will also impede growth and bloom production.
Care for Moth Orchids
The light needs of Moth orchids are easily met by placing them in an east or west-facing window where the plant will receive bright, indirect sunlight. Although Phals are hardy, direct sunlight is too strong for them. Always place them in a bright location, but never in direct sunlight. Sunlight streaming in a south-facing window will be too strong for the plant and a north-facing window will not be a bright enough location for successfully growing a Phalaenopsis orchid.
Remove the dust from plant leaves as needed by wiping them with a soft, damp cloth. Dust buildup on the leaves will block light from reaching the foliage and stunt plant growth.
Moth orchids need regular watering throughout the growing season and light misting during the warm months of summer. Allow the top inch of the growing medium, which is typically sphagnum moss, orchid mix or bark, to dry out between watering.
When home-grown orchids die due to poor watering habits, the plant has usually died from drowning instead of dehydration. A container that has good drainage is essential for a healthy orchid. Water the plant until the water runs out of the bottom drainage holes. Don’t let the roots dry out completely but don’t keep the growing medium soggy. You have to remember to take a lot of care not to over water moth orchids.
The first few weeks will be a time of trial and error to discover the perfect amount of water to give to your Moth orchid and how often the plant needs to be watered. A plant grown in bright light at the higher end of the temperature range will require more water than one grown in lower light and cooler temperatures. Also note that the smaller the growing container, the more frequently the plant will need to be watered.
Be careful not to splash water on the plant foliage when watering. Lightly mist during the summer to increase plant humidity. Reduce watering slightly during the winter.
Feeding a Phalaenopsis Orchid
Phals require regular, weekly feeding during the growing season. Since the plant needs weekly feeding, the potential for a harmful buildup of salt in the growing medium must be addressed. To avoid this salt buildup, feed the Moth orchid 3 weeks, then on the 4th week withhold food and only provide the plant with water. This plain watering will flush out the excess salt in the growing medium and keep the plant growing strong and healthy.
Feed a Phalaenopsis only specially formulated orchid food.
Bloom Time and Pruning
Moth orchids prepare to bloom when the air temperature cools in the fall, then the plant will produce blooms from late winter through until late spring. Some plants will have blooms on them continuously.
After flowers have faded, cut the bloom spike back down to the base of the plant. Continue to feed and water the orchid as usual, leave it in indirect light.
Repot Moth orchids when the plant is not blooming. Repotting when the plant is in bloom will stress the plant and cause it to drop all of its lovely blooms.
Re-pot after the Phal has been in the same pot for 2 years or has begun to outgrow its current pot.
Moth orchids do best when grown in clear pots since their roots are attracted to light. Clear pots also benefit you by allowing you to see if the growing medium is moist around the plant roots.
Snip off diseased roots when re-potting and shorten healthy roots to 5 inches.
The same pot can be re-used. Empty out all of the old growing medium and wash container in soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Half-fill container with new orchid growing medium, place Phal at correct level in container, and gently add more growing medium to fill the pot. Don’t cover roots growing out into the air with growing medium as this will cause them to rot. Thoroughly water newly re-potted Moth orchid and allow to drain before placing the plant back into bright light.
We hope this information has helped you to learn on how to care for moth orchids. If you require more information or have some tips you would like to share, you can leave your comments below.