As an Indoor Plant
Moth Orchids (Phalaenopsis) bloom for an extended period of time with blooming spikes of some cultivars lasting as long as 6 months. Under home conditions, moth orchids are relatively easy to re-bloom, although the new spikes and flowers will not be as vigorous or numerous as those produced in the greenhouse.
Water once a week. Water thoroughly by watering the top of the pot and letting water drain freely; or by submerging the entire pot in water to the rim of the pot then lifting it out to drain; or by adding a few ice cubes to the soil surface. The ice will melt and slowly wet the substrate without risk of overwatering. Do not allow the pot to stand in water for extended periods of time. It is best to use an orchid pot if possible. These pots have holes in their sides as well which help the orchid bark mix dry out more easily between waterings and greatly reduces the risk of root rot.
Typical home temperatures are ok while in bloom. Moth orchids need cooler nights (as low as 15°C) in order to develop new flower spikes.
Bright light but not in direct sun. An East window works very well, as will a West window during much of the year.
Soil and Fertilizer
Use 1/4 strength all-purpose fertilizer for each watering, if desired. Here is a great fertilizer for orchids which we recommend:
Phalaenopsis will perform quite well in the home watered only with mineral or tap water.
After a few years, the substrate will begin to break down. Re-potting will be necessary at this point. (Just make sure its current bloom cycle is complete) Use a pot one size larger and a mix specifically formulated for orchids. Trim away decayed roots at the base of the plant before repotting. You can tuck healthy roots into the pot, but try not to force them – they will break.
Plant Care Tips
Remove blooms as they wither. If flowers do not open brighter light is needed. Do not overwater – it is better to wait a week than to water too often. Moth orchids have roots which will grow out of the pot. These roots collect moisture from the air so there is no need to trim them away. The roots will also turn green when exposed to light-this is normal. In the wild, moth orchids grow in tree branches, so this type of root is an adaptation which allows the plant to survive these conditions. Plants that have finished blooming may bloom again from the same spike; if the spike stays green, cut away the flowering stem to just above a green bump (you should be able to actually feel something at the bump). A new shoot may develop at this node. If the flowering stem dries, cut it off close to the base and allow your plant to develop a new leaf. Cool night temperatures will stimulate spike formation but it may take 6 months to a year before you see a new shoot come up. Orchids appreciate high humidity. This can be achieved either with regular misting or by placing the pot on a tray filled with pebbles with water added no higher than the pebbles.
As an Outdoor Plant
Native to Asia, Phalaenopsis orchids are typically found high up in tree branches of a rain forest canopy. A shaded area will work best for outdoor use as a container plant. Be sure to add some weight to the cover pot to keep the plant upright in windy conditions. Moth orchids will not tolerate cold temperatures; optimal temperatures are in the 18-24°C range.
Outdoor conditions tend to promote quicker water uptake so you may need water a bit more frequently.
Temperature and Humidity
Tolerates a range of temperatures from 4-24°C. May show stress (wilt) during high temperatures. Bloom is delayed under high temperatures even with appropriate short days.
Bright light but in shade, not full sun.
Soil and Fertilizer
Feed with every watering. Use the same fertilizers recommended above for indoor growing.
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