The Moth Orchid
An American Orchid Society demographic survey showed that phalaenopsis have
become America's favorite orchid. And no wonder. Perhaps no other orchid
is better suited to home orchid growing. Plants with long-lasting sprays
of lovely mothlike blooms in a broad array of colors are inexpensive and
widely available, ready to give weeks of pleasure in your home or office.
Simply provide modest light and consistent moisture, and they will delight
you with their relative ease of culture. The main flowering season is late
winter into spring, though commercial growers today can make flowering phalaenopsis
available year round.
Sufficient light is important for healthy growth and flower production.
Provide: Bright light, no direct sun. In the home, an east, west
or shaded south window. In a greenhouse, about 30 percent full sun. Under
lights, four 40 watt fluorescent tubes and two 40 watt incandescent bulbs
directly over plants. Foliage should be naturally semierect, and of a
medium olive-green. Dark green, limp foliage indicates too little light.
Mature plants need a 15° to 20° F difference between night and
Provide: Nights of 60° to 65° F; days of 75 to 85 F. Seedlings
need temperatures five to 10 degrees higher than mature plants.
Mature plants should seldom dry out between waterings. Seedlings need
more constant attention to moisture.
Phalaenopsis need 60 to 70 percent humidity. In the home, place on trays
of moistened pebbles. In greenhouse, use a humidifier if conditions are
Must be provided on a regular basis because most potting media have little.
Provide: The exact fertilizer you use will depend on the mix in
which your plant is growing. A good general rule is to use a balanced
(10-10-10, 12-12-12 or similar ratio) fertilizer "weakly, weekly."
That is, fertilize every week at one quarter to one half of the recommended
Should be done every one to two years before the mix breaks down too far.
Best done in late spring after main flowering season, using a well-drained
but water-retentive mix. Select pot size for root mass, not top size.