All the excess water needs to drain out of the pot after watering your orchid, this will prevent rotting roots; many orchids grow on trees in the wild where their roots are exposed to the air.

Check this section again for more tips.


It was once thought that many orchids needed "stove houses" - heated to around 100 to 120 degrees F, humidity hovering over 90 per cent, and deeply shaded; many orchids died under such conditions. We now understand that most of them are comfortable in the same sort of climate we humans enjoy. Very convenient.


Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis) Care and Growing Tips

Phalaenopsis are warmth-loving perennial tropical orchid plants native to jungles and rainforests of the Philippine Islands, south to Indonesia and possibly Australia, east into New Guinea, and a few species are found as far west as parts of eastern India and Bangladesh. A variety is also known from forested areas of Taiwan, the northernmost extent of the range of the genus. As with all orchids, they can bloom every year or even more than once each year, and can in theory live, for any practical purpose, forever. They are often found near waterfalls, in part shade, growing with the lush, leathery leaves hanging sideways, the mist so draining off the plant in its perch high in the trees or upon rocks - not in soil!

Phalaenopsis are known well for the length of time their blooms can last - 3 or 4 months is typical; we have seen some last a half a year in bloom. Consistent, even care as follows is the key with these classically beautiful orchids.

Almost all must be kept warm - by which we mean nothing more than comfortable indoor temperatures, 60 degrees F. minimum at night, with a temperature increase during the day of about 10 to 15 degrees. They readily tolerate higher temperatures, but will require more frequent watering if temperatures are in the 90s. The principal exception is Phalaenopsis amabilis, a pretty Taiwanese variety with smaller white flowers, which is perfectly happy with nights as low as 40 degrees F occasionally and 48 degrees routinely. If it is your desire to bring the plant into bloom again, it will be necessary to allow it to have night temperatures around 55 to 58 degrees F for a period of no less than six weeks, followed by normal warmer temperatures.

As Phalaenopsis have no pseudobulbs (the thick, bulb like structure found on many other orchids), and so cannot conserve much water, they require watering frequent enough to maintain a level of moisture in the pot that is not dripping wet at all times, nor dry ever; evenly, consistently moist. Of course it will be wetter just after watering but the point is to never let the plants dry out completely. They can be watered best by placing them in a sink and running cold water into the pot for 10 or 15 seconds, or alternatively a couple of ice cubes can be placed on the bark medium in the pots and allowed to melt, the slower trickle of water providing enough moisture to sustain the plant. In this second method, the plants should nonetheless be watered thoroughly from time to time to allow minerals deposited in the bark medium to be rinsed out. Morning is the best time to water any orchids. Twice a week while blooming will usually be sufficient for a large plant; if two flower stems are present, three times may be required. When not blooming, once per week is usually enough.

Phalaenopsis greatly appreciate frequent applications of very mild dilutions of fertilizer. Many commercial brands work well, such as Miracle Grow, Peters, Dyna Grow, and so on; in most cases, the label will provide information on how much fertilizer to add to a gallon of water to make a solution - but it is best to make a far, far weaker one. For example, if the label calls for 1 tablespoon of fertilizer granules per gallon of water, to be applied once per month, try instead about one half teaspoon of granules per gallon, applied every other watering. Premixed fertilizer can be kept for some time under a sink, or in a cabinet out of reach of children (and away from light, which will allow algae to grow in the water in unsightly fashion).

Phalaenopsis are plants of shady forests, and so their needs for light can be met easily. One half hour, up to an hour, of full sun in the early morning, OR sun diminished by sheer curtains for a longer period, OR very bright shade, such as a spot in a sunroom that happens never to be in full sun, are some variations any of which would provide enough light to allow the plants to grow and bloom.

The last item of concern is you! Take a little time to admire the stately display; go closer and explore the intricacies of the floral structure. We think you'll find a bit of peace of mind, a brief mental vacation in your piece of tropical paradise.


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