The Phalaenopsis or moth orchid is one of the most elegant and easy to care for indoor flowering plants. If you have just received one of these beautiful orchids as a gift then here are some straight forward tips on how to look after it.
The first thing to know is that your phalaenopsis doesn’t have very specialised requirements, you don’t have to be an orchid expert or have a greenhouse to raise them, they are quite happy in an ordinary home.
Where to display your orchid
Phalaenopsis don’t like to be in full sun, they prefer bright but indirect light, an east facing window sill is ideal. They also need to be somewhere that is cooler at night than in the day. Ideal temperatures are approximately 29°C in the day and 18°C at night. You can tell if your orchid is happy where it is by its leaves, they should be mid-green in colour and firm.
Watering your orchid
As a plant which grows naturally in warm humid areas where it absorbs water from the air around it, the phalaenopsis doesn’t like to be too wet. If you overwater these plants their roots will rot, so if your orchid is in a decorative pot that has no drainage its worth checking every now and then to make sure it’s not sitting in water.
Water your phalaenopsis just enough to keep the soil moist, preferably first thing in the morning which gives the plant time to dry out during the day. Using tepid tap water is fine.
You can buy specialist orchid feed from garden centres which will be ideal for your phalaenopsis. Feed them 2 -3 times a month in the summer and 1 -2 times a month in winter. If you can’t get hold of orchid feed, then ordinary house plant food is fine, but use it at half the recommended strength for flowering house plants.
Looked after properly, your phalaenopsis should flower for up to three months, when the flowers start to fade and die, don’t despair, it will almost certainly flower again. Cut the dying stem off about 2” (3cm) from the base of the plant. This will then die back naturally and encourage the plant to produce new flowering stems.
Phalaenopsis orchid – did you know…
- Its name comes from the Greek word ‘phaluna’ which means moth, and refers to the shape of the flowers.
- There are about 60 different species of phalaenopsis; most of them come from South-east Asia.
- Despite having the appearance of a thoroughly modern plant, they were established as a genus by the Dutch botanist C.L Blume in 1825.
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