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How to Grow Phalaenopsis


Phalaenopsis–commonly called Moth Orchid–is a genus of tree-dwelling (epiphytic) orchids with thick, broad, leathery leaves, and long sprays of white, cream, pale yellow, or light lavender-pink flowers. Flowers are 3 to 6 inches wide.

Phalaenopsis require warmer growing conditions than most orchids, usually in the 70s and 80s Fahrenheit. They also prefer fairly high humidity. These requirements for growing success make Phalaenopsis more for advanced amateurs than beginners.

Phalaenopsis flowers are often spotted, barred, or have contrasting lip color. Flower sprays can reach 3 feet long. Flowers often bloom throughout the year and remain in bloom for many months.

Phalaenopsis is a genus of about 50 species of mostly evergreen, mainly epiphytic orchids. They are native to lowland forests in the Himalayas, Southeast Asia, and northern Australia.

Get to Know Phalaenopsis 

  • Plant type: Epiphytic orchid
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 14-15
  • Hardiness: Tropical outdoors
  • Temperature: day, 70° to 85°F (21° to 29°C); night, 60° to 65°F (16° to 18°C). 
  • Height and width: 6 to 36 inches (15cm-1m) tall and 8 to 18 inches (20-45cm ) wide depending on the variety.
  • Foliage: 3-6 broadly obovate or oval upright or semi-pendent, fleshy, mid- to dark green leaves, sometimes mottled.
  • Flowers: The waxy flowers, resembling butterflies or moths, open in succession along arching flower stalks which can then remain in bloom up to 5 months or more. 
  • Bloom time: Often throughout the year; blooms open up to 5 months or more. 
  • Uses: Houseplant. tropical gardens
  • Common name: Moth orchid
  • Botanical name: Phalaenopsis
  • Family name: Orchidaceae
  • Origin: Lowland forests of Himalayas, southeast Asia, northern Australia
Moth orchids, Phalaenopsis
Moth orchids, Phalaenopsis

Where to Plant Phalaenopsis 

  • Light: Bright light from northern or eastern exposure; shade from direct sun at midday. Does well under artificial light, needing 12 to 16 light hours daily. Good circulation of fresh air. 
  • Soil: Fir bark mixed with chopped tree fern fiber. Best when grown in pots in the greenhouse. In the home, does well in slatted baskets, on section of tree limb or on slab of tree fern fiber allowing the aerial roots to hang freely.. 

When to Plant Phalaenopsis 

  • Set Palaenopsis outdoors only in tropical regions.

Planting and Spacing Phalaenopsis 

  • Space Phalaenopsis 8 to 18 inches (20-45cm ) apart depedning on the variety.

How to Water and Feed Phalaenopsis 

  • Water: Water freely from spring to autun, mist daily. Keep growing medium evenly moist; never allow plant to dry out. Mist aerial roots frequently. Humidity, 50% to 70%. 
  • In witner, water sparingly and keep the foliage dry.
  • Feeding: Proportioned feedings of a balanced all-purpose fertilizer with each watering, year-round. 

Phalaenopsis Care 

  • Phalaenopsis rests briefly after vegetative growth stops; this is not easily recognized. At cooler times of the year continue watering but give slightly less and lower humidity. 
  • Support the racemes and cut back flowered stems to a lowr node to encourage production of more flowers.

Gowing Phalaenopsis as a Houseplant

  • Grow Phalaenopsis in a room with cool temperature in fall and average to warm temperature the rest of the year.
  • The light should be bright from fall through spring and limited in summer; humidity should be high.
  • Grow in a well-drained, soilless medium with extra fir or redwood bark or osmunda fiber.
  • Keep the medium evenly moist at all times.
  • Fertilize twice monthly when the plant is growing or flowering; use a complete liquid fertilizer.

Phalaenopsis Pests and Diseases 

  • Phalanenopsis can be attacked by mealybugs, scale, slugs, snails, and whiteflies. 
  • Check for bacterial, fungal, and viral infections.
  • Petal blight, bacterial soft rot, pseudobulb rots, cymbiium mosaic can occur.
  • Iron deficiency can cause problems.

Phalaenopsis Propagation 

  • Cuttings of plantlets appearing along stems can be rooted
  • Some species produce plantlets on the flower spikes. 
  • Phalaenopsis can be propagated from seed.

Phalaenopsis Varieties to Grow 

  • Phalaenopsis amabilis. Epiphytic orchid with broadly oval leaves to 20 inches long; bears 6 to 20 snowy white flowers on a slender stalk; white and yellow lip has red markings; blooms from fall through winter. 
  • P. lueddemanniana. Epophytic orchid with olblong leaves to 12 inches long; bears 3 to 4 white flowers with pink markings; purple lip has yellow base and light-colored markings; blooms appear at different times throughout the year. 

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