The Orchid Phalaenopsis plant also called the ‘moth orchid’ is a popular houseplant within the orchid family. They typically have long, coarse, brown roots and colorful flowers which usually sprout in white, light pink, or purple colors.
The arching stems can sprout at any time of the year and typically appear from a collection of long, evergreen leaves. These wonderful plants give an exotic look to your space and their blooms can last several months, depending on how well you care for them.
These flowers thrive as houseplants, enjoying the year-round warmth and sporadic filtered light in homes across the world. Usually, plant owners will grow these orchids in loose compost, predominantly made from bark, and will make an effort to tend to the roots, which should be neither too wet nor too dry at any point, regardless of the season.
Buying an Orchid Phalaenopsis
Orchids are among the best-sellers in the houseplant world, providing an elegant splash of color to any space in homes, offices, or hotels. They are available to buy in most garden centers, many florists, supermarkets, and even online.
They are available in both regular and miniature sizes, with the smaller group ranging between 15-20cm tall to the larger ones that begin at around 50cm tall, sometimes taller.
Many moth orchids are sold as hybrids of different orchid species, which for the most part, will be unnamed. Using the correct propagation methods, moth orchids can be ‘reused’ from the same plant, making them cheaper to buy and longer lasting, so you don’t have to worry about spending money (albeit not much) on a new one.
Keeping Orchid Phalaenopsis
Orchids should be kept inside on the whole, although they can survive outside in warmer climates, extreme heat or cold can damage the plants and discourage them from growing and flowering properly.
During the colder, winter months, we recommend you keep your moth orchids in bright light – this will encourage them to flower. Windowsills, particularly east or west-facing windows are the best place to keep them. If you struggle with darkness in your home, consider using artificial lights to make sure your orchid is getting the right amount of direct light.
In summer, however, keep them away from windows and instead position them in areas with less direct light. Direct sunlight (especially in large amounts) can scorch the leaves of the plant and cause its colors to fade.
Warm conditions are recommended all year round, so if your house gets particularly cold during the winter, you should consider how to raise the temperature to ensure maximum growth and health for your orchid.
Make sure to keep your orchid away from doors, drafty windows, or heat sources. Although it likes to be consistently warm, any changes in temperature can be harmful to your orchid.
The main thing to avoid when caring for your orchid is overwatering. Drowning your orchid in water is going to ruin its roots, which will stunt its growth and can cause root rot and mold.
Water moth orchids lightly around once a week during the growing season. In winter months, you can reduce this, but make sure to still remember to water it!
If you can collect rainwater, use it to water your moth orchid. It will love the natural elements in rainwater, but if you can’t do this, tepid tap water is fine.
If you want to help your plant with humidity, you can mist your orchid in the growing months. Be careful not to water the petals of the flowers too much, they’re delicate and can potentially fall off if they’re carrying heavy water.
Your orchid will not need a huge amount of help from fertilizers during the growing months. If you want to maximize its growth, lightly use a 30-10-10, water-soluble fertilizer.
Be sure to monitor how much fertilizer you’re using on your moth orchid, too much can cause harmful salts to accumulate in the soil and will discourage your orchid from growing and potentially cause health decline.
You can re-pot your Orchid Phalaenopsis at any point throughout the year, just make sure the roots are active with green tips before doing so.
Do not repot your orchid if it has not outgrown its pot. This plant will not need pre-meditated re-potting, so only re-pot if necessary. However, if the orchid has grown slower than expected, but the soil is over two years old, you can consider re-potting it to change up the soil. In this instance, the orchid will not need a new-sized pot.
While re-potting, it’s a good idea to use a clear container, so you can see if the compost is moist below the surface before re-potting. Clear containers can also help your orchid to photosynthesize.
Always use bark-based specialized orchid compost. Make sure that you do not use multipurpose compost – this will kill your Orchid Phalaenopsis.
Orchids are usually easy-going, but here is some friendly advice if you run into any problems.
If you notice root rot or deterioration, make sure to monitor your watering and the moisture levels in your soil. Root rot typically means that you’re overwatering your plant but cutting it off from water and waiting for it to dry out can be equally as harmful and can lead to shriveling. Using a clear container can help with monitoring root health.
You shouldn’t run into many problems with pests, but if you do, they’re likely to be mealybugs. This will only affect your orchid if left unresolved. Use gentle rubbing alcohol to get rid of the pests and in the future, mist your Orchid Phalaenopsis to avoid attracting them.
The Orchid Phalaenopsis is a great houseplant to have. It is easy to care for and looks great in pretty much any space. If you decide the Orchid Phalaenopsis is for you, be sure to stick to the basic guidelines in this article and your orchid will stay healthy and happy!
Elyssa Goins is an experienced house plant hobbyist who maintains over a hundred plants. She is a gardener, beekeeper, and a proud mother of four. She is a member of the American Horticultural Society, has a published study in the National Social Science Association, and loves to talk about her love of plants. For the past twenty years, she’s been all about growing and caring for various fruits, veggies, herbs, livestock, kids, and houseplants. Managing a big garden to feed four growing kids and raising dairy goats has taught her so much about being an excellent plant parent and now is her time to share with you.