Phalaenopsis Orchid Care
Growing Moth Orchids

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Phalaenopsis orchid care is easy for the right kind of gardener. When growing Moth orchids it is important to remember that they have no water storage organs. Let me explain how to keep them healthy and blooming.



The Phalaenopsis, commonly called the Moth orchid, is basically a bundle of roots with a rosette of leaves sitting on top of it. Periodically, flower spikes emerge from amongst the leaves. These spikes can form flower buds almost continuously if the plant gets what it wants.

From the standpoint of Phalaenopsis orchid care, the most important thing to remember about them is that, unlike many other orchid species, they have no backbulbs in which to store water. Therefore, they require a steady supply of moisture.

Gardeners fall into two basic categories: nurturers and neglecters. Nurturers lavish care on their plants and can sometimes kill them with kindness. Neglecters tend to forget all about their plants for days on end.

Phalaenopsis orchid care is easy to a nurturer.

A neglectful gardener will probably find it difficult to keep a moth orchid alive for very long.

White Moth Orchid growing indoors.

Why?

Because Moths do not recover well when they are allowed to dry out. Their leaves and roots will shrivel and die. They can't bloom when under water stress.

If you are growing Phalaenopsis orchids and you let them go too long without water try this: put the pots into a bucket of water for a few hours. Drain the water away.

Be sure to get it out of the leaves. Water left sitting in the leaves will rot these plants very quickly.

Place the orchids in the shade and watch them for a few days. If the leaves and roots plump back out and look normal, you've dodged a bullet. If they stay shriveled, the orchids are toast. Replace them. Why put yourself through the agony of growing Phalaenopsis orchids that will probably never bloom again--IF they live.

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This is how to keep a Phalaenopsis happy:

  1. Give it good light, but keep it out of direct or strong sun.
  2. Keep it moist but not wet. Grow it in a media that holds water well like moss. When an orchid is well watered, its roots will be green. When they look white, it's because they are dry.

    A clear pot is helpful here. You can slip the clear pot inside a pretty cache pot if you don't like the way it looks. The weight of the cache pot will also help the Phalaenopsis to remain upright when in heavy bloom.
  3. Feed it every week or two with a diluted liquid food at half strength. Again, don't let this solution sit inside the leaves.
  4. If you are growing the plant indoors, you may need to set it outside in the fall in order to induce bloom. Moth orchids need to experience temps in the 60s F for a few consecutive nights to trigger spiking. Their natural bloom season is from later winter through spring. Do not expose a phalaenopsis to temps below 50 degrees F.

When your orchid is in bloom:

Moth orchids are prolific bloomers. This is one of the reasons they are so popular. One of mine once bloomed for six straight months! I was awestruck.

The bloom spikes are very long so stake them up. The buds and flowers seem to arrive in flushes. When the first flowers die, you may be tempted to remove the spike. Wait.

It will often continue to grow and produce more flowers. Only remove the dead portions of a bloom spike. You can tell when the tip of a spike is dead because it will turn brown. Only cut off the tip. The spike can produce more buds from below this area. Do not remove the whole spike until the whole spike is brown. You'll get a lot more blooms practicing this type of Phalaenopsis orchid care.

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Other Types of Orchids:

Lady's Slipper Orchids

Nun Orchid

Pansy Orchids

Cypripedium acaule: the Hardy Pink Lady Slipper Orchid

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