The Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis)

May 1, 2019
Such special flowers! Pictured here in our Spiral Hanging Planter in White.

The Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis) has become the most common entry into growing orchids for beginners. Moth Orchids are easy to grow and care for in most homes. Having them indoors on a windowsill works remarkably well, and is the main reason why these plants have become as popular as they have. You can also make love potions out of them, but more on that later.

Moth Orchids originate from Southeast Asia and derive their name from the shape of their flower, which resembles a moth in flight. Around 60 wild species are known to exist, as well as the many thousands of human-made hybrid variations. Most of these hybrid varieties have been bred to be particularly easy to grow and care for at home.

At Angus & Celeste, we say that the Phalaenopsis orchid is the perfect bathroom plant. All that steam and humidity from your daily shower provides the ideal environment for your orchid. It will need much less watering, as the bathroom environment can mimic the humid places that these orchids grow in the wild. If you have a windowsill in your bathroom, then it could be the perfect location for a Phalaenopsis Orchid. These orchids continue to re-flower if they are happy. You will know you have a happy orchid if it continues to send out new flower spikes as soon as the original spike finishes up and dies off.

If you find yourself a little scared of caring for orchids, don’t fret. We’ve got all the information right here for you to care for these beautiful and mysterious plants.

What a flower! Pictured here in our Small White Hanging Planter

Environment & Temperature:

Make sure that the light for your Moth Orchid is as bright as possible without being in hot, direct sunlight – this can lead to your orchids becoming burnt. Ouch! In the darker months, it may be necessary for you to move your plant to where it can get the light it loves.

Moth Orchids prefer intermediate-to-warm temperatures during the day (21-30 degrees Celsius), with a drop of around 6-8 degrees during the evening. Generally speaking, if the temperature is comfortable for you, it’s most likely comfortable for your orchid too.

Like other orchids, Moth Orchids grow best in a humid environment.  If you want to raise the humidity for your beloved plant, mist them with a spray bottle regularly. Alternatively, you can set up a humidity tray. To do this, fill a tray with gravel and set the plant on top, then pour some water into the tray. The gravel keeps the plant elevated so that it doesn’t sit directly in the water, which will kill most orchids, but allows the evaporating water to escape and humidify the nearby air.

Long steams of flowers add beautiful decoration to any home. Image from Flickr.

Watering:

Moth Orchids do not like to be dry. Oh, no they sure don’t! This is because they don’t have water-storage organs (pseudobulbs). To water, take your orchid to the sink and run water through the pot until it runs freely from the bottom, ensuring all the potting mix gets wet. You can also dunk the pot into a bucket of water until the potting mix stops bubbling. Do your best not to get water into the plant’s crown (this is at the top of the stem, where new leaves grow), as the water may get trapped and cause rot.

Fertiliser & Soil:

Orchids need to be fed (much like a baby), as they are not growing in soil. The moss or bark that you have them planted in doesn’t have the nutrients that they require. As such, you should fertilise your orchid at least once a week by dissolving an orchid fertiliser into the water you use.

It’s hard to believe these beautiful colours are real! Orchids pictured in our Large and Small White Hanging Planters.

Air Roots:

You may have noticed some of your orchid’s roots growing out of the pot. No, that’s not your orchid trying to escape – those are the plant’s air (or aerial) roots reaching out to grab onto something. In nature, orchids grow on other plants and it is those spider-like roots that anchor them. It is suggested to cut off any dead and dried up air roots.

Propagation:

The simplest way to propagate your Moth Orchid is by planting the keiki. What’s a keiki, you ask? Well, you can think of it as your plant’s baby. Keikis are small plantlets that sometimes develop on your plant’s stems, and is an exact clone of the mother plant. Talk about acorn not falling far from the tree, or orchid in this case! Once the keiki has established a strong root system and a few leaves, cut the flower stem on both sides of the keiki and pot it up in its on pot.

So there we have it! Not so scary is it? Moth Orchids may appear like delicate prima donnas, but they really are quite easy to care for. As long as you do your part to keep them healthy, they will enliven your home with their unique beauty.

Coloured orchids are all the rage in the floral world right now. Image from Sabon Home.

Did you know?

In parts of Europe, orchids were used as a key ingredient in love potions. In 2013, a rare orchid was found in Ballina NSW, with Aboriginal women in the area believing it to hold special powers in a love potion. But don’t give up Tinder just yet. The “swamp” orchid as it is known, is listed as endangered and its whereabouts is a tightly kept secret.

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