The “Moth Orchid” has become increasingly popular in recent years thanks to their suitability as house plants. Recent hybrid trends have increased the color palette and floriferousness making them even more desirable. At present Phalaenopsis, or Phals, as they are commonly called, can be found in white, yellow, green, many shades of pink, and near red. Sun Bulb Company, Inc. initiated the release of more art shade Phals expanding the palette to include oranges and autumn colors. Phalaenopsis flowers may be large on long sprays (standard) or small on short, branched sprays (multiflora). Flowers may be strongly striped or spotted adding further interest. Some may even be fragrant. Their sprays of long lasting flowers in the spring always command attention. The genus Phalaenopsis originates in tropical Asia, the Philippines and South Pacific and can also be bred with other Asian orchid families such as Doritis and Renanthera.
Phalaenopsis enjoy pretty much the same climate as we do however they do not like temperatures much below 50 F and they prefer high humidity, at least 50%. Placing pots on a water-filled tray of pebbles and misting them occasionally will help satisfy this requirement. Phalaenopsis do not need as much light as Cattleyas or Oncidiums which may make them more desirable as house plants. Keeping plants a foot or so back from an east or west window should provide ample light. If you air condition your home during the summer your Phals may be happier spending their time outdoors under a shady tree. Make sure that there is no danger of frost before moving any orchids outdoors. Phals lack the water storage devices of Cattleya or Oncidium meaning that they require more water. The potting medium should be kept damp but never soggy. Keeping Phals too wet will only result in root loss. It is important to remember to water Phals early in the day and avoid letting water remain on the top of the leaves or in the crown overnight. Water left standing in the crown overnight can lead to crownrot and the loss of the orchid. Fertilize every two weeks or two during growing season and half as much during the winter using an orchid fertilizer such as Better-Gro® Orchid Plus® Fertilizer. In the fall before blooming season use Better-Gro® Bloom Booster® Fertilizer to assure prolific flower production the following spring. Re-pot at least every 12 to 24 months using Better-Gro® Phalaenopsis Potting Mix designed to provide the correct water retention qualities critical to Phalaenopsis culture.
Phalaenopsis are among the most popular and rewarding orchids. They are easy to grow as house plants and put on a spectacular display when in bloom. Take one to a friend! They are the perfect hostess gift that shows you care. Everybody should have a few Phalaenopsis in their home.