Plumeria Flowers In Chicago

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Phalaenopsis Orchid - Moth Orchid

The name Phalaenopsis means "Phalaen-like" which 
refers to Phalaena, which is a group of large moths.

Phalaenopsis hybrid
The flowers of Phalaenopsis orchids resemble these
moths in flight; hence the name 'Moth Orchid'.

Phalaenopsis is an orchid genus which consists of
about 60 species. It is one of the most popular orchids
grown thanks to its easy culture.

Its native habitat includes Southeast Asia north to the
Himalayas and extents along the Pacific Rim from 
Taiwan's Orchid Island in the north, to and through
the Philippines on the islands of Polillo, Palawan,
Zamboanga del Norte, and Mindanao, in particular, 
all the way south to Northern Australia.

Most Phalaenopsis orchids are epiphytic orchids.  
This means that they derive the necessary moisture
and nutrients for their survival from the air and the rain
found in the local environment.

A few Phalaenopsis orchids are lithophytes, meaning 
they grow in and around rocks. When growing as
lithophytes, these orchids get their moisture and
nutrients from moss, rain water, litter, and their own 
dead tissue. 

Phalaenopsis hybrid

Moth orchids exhibit monopodial growth which means
they grow upward from one single point. Additional growth
comes from the top of each stem as it grows taller each

The flower stalks begin their growing from the 'growing
point' which is located at the junction of two leaves 
generally found just above the soil level. (see picture below)

Phalaenopsis hybrid
The leaves of Moth orchids are thick and elliptical in
shape. Depending on the light exposure, the color of 
the leaves range from dark green (low light exposure)
to light green (high light exposure). 

As new leaves grow at the top, older leaves at the
bottom turn yellow and fall off.

The flower stalk appears where a leaf joins the stem.
Indoors the flower may last two months or longer. 

Phalaenopsis hybrid
Some orchid plants form a new plant on their flower stalk.
This is called 'Keiki'. The term 'Keiki' is the Hawaiian word 
for baby or child, and literally means 'the little one'.  

Roots start to develop at the base of this new plant.

As soon as the roots are about 1 - 2 inches long, you can
cut off this new plant from the mother plant.  This new
rooted cutting can then be planted in a new container
filled with an orchid growing mix.

Phalaenopsis are low light orchids and thrive in an
eastern, or shaded southern or western window.

They also thrive under common grow lights. 

They do not like full sunlight.

As Phalaenopsis orchids are monopodial, they do
not have any pseudobulbs to store water. Therefore they
are not drought tolerant.

During the growth period water them when the exposed
roots show a silvery white color. This means watering
them about once a week. The potting medium or mix 
should be slightly moist. 

During their flowering period watering them every ten
days to two weeks should be sufficient.

The higher the humidity the more important it is to
provide proper airflow around the leaves and roots.
During the growing season fertilize your Moth orchid
weekly with an orchid fertilizer at 1/4 strength.

This means that when the manufacturer recommends
1 teaspoon of fertilizer per gallon, you use 1/4 teaspoon.
During the flowering season fertilize one a month.

To improve flowering some gardeners use a fertilizer
high in Phosphorus and Potassium during the fall
months of September and October.

Phalaenopsis hybrid

Phalaenopsis like warm temperatures between 75 and
85 degrees Fahrenheit although they adjust to normal
house temperatures in the 65 F to 75 F range.

The higher the temperature the more important it is
to provide proper humidity.

Blooming time for Phalaenopsis is usually in late
winter and early spring. Their long lasting flowers
open successively with sometimes more than
20 flowers open at one time. 

To induce flowering cooler night temperatures, 
55 F - 60 F, are recommended. 

Phalaenopsis grow in potting mixes which are
designed for orchids and provide rapid drainage.

If planted in containers, it is important that these
containers provide good drainage meaning they have
enough drainage holes at the bottom. 

They may also be grown in hanging baskets or mounted
to wood where humidity is set at greenhouse level.

Repotting of Phalaenopsis orchids should be done after
their blooming period every other year.

Phalaenopsis hybrid
When watering or misting it is of utmost importance
to make sure there is no water at the growing tip.

Any remaining water at the growing tip may cause it
to rot. As Phalaenopsis are monopodial orchids with 
only one growing point, this means the demise of the

Therefore it's best to water and fertilize in the morning.

To read excerpts from
How To Grow Plumeria - Frangipani Anytime Anywhere! 
and for your FREE Tropical Plant Guide,
Grow Your Own Tropical Garden, visit