Phalaenopsis moth orchids

Phalaenopsis moth orchids

Phalaenopsis or Moth Orchids are now the number one pot plant sold throughout the world. The range available has diversified and continued to grow in recent years in terms of colours, flower size and stem height. White is still the leading colour but other colours such as pink, reds, purples and yellow are becoming more popular.

History

The first description of Phalaenopsis species goes back to the year 1704. Around 1760 the first tropical orchids were introduced to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew. Only the Royal family could afford such valuable plants. At the start of the 19th Century Phalaenopsis started to find their way into homes of the well-to-do in Europe, no mean feat by sailing ship from Asia, and does say something about their prized value at the time.

Placement

Position the plant in a stylish ceramic or pot cover in your home avoiding direct sunlight and drafts and in the winter keep away from cold areas such as window sills.

Plant Care

Phalaenopsis Orchids originate from the tropical region of Asia where the day time temperature ranges from 28C to 35C and the night-time temperature from 20C to 24C. The amount of rainfall is approximately 2000 mm per year and the humidity around the 100% mark. Most Orchids are epiphytes, in layman’s terms they grow in the trees.

How does this help us with caring for our Moth Orchid at home? They like to be warm and they don’t like low humidity or drafts. They thrive in a very open mix such as a coarse bark and need weekly watering. Orchids must not be left standing in water, a water logged mix will kill the roots very quickly. We advise taking the Orchid to the kitchen sink weekly in the summer, watering well through the medium and then standing until completely drained.

Monthly feeding with a proprietary liquid fertilizer at a low strength will help. Moth Orchids will bloom for many months and before all the flowers have died cut the flower stem above the bottom node and you will be rewarded with a side branch and more flowers. Once flowering is finished remove the flower spike, a new spike should appear late winter. Once your plant has become too large for the pot you can re-pot into a larger pot using a bark based orchid mix. We recommend Orchiata, a bark produced for orchid growers ready to use from the bag. Remember the container you use must have good drainage. Commercial growers use clear plastic pots to assist with root penetration into the mix however this is not essential for potting on. There is no need to pot on until the plant becomes too large for the container it came in.

With a little care you should be able to get many years of enjoyment from your Orchid!