Phalaenopsis orchids are becoming more and more popular as houseplants due to their ease of culture and to their beautiful, long-lasting flowers. The name, phalaenopsis, means "moth-like", and in their native Philippines the wild species are said to resemble flights of moths in the jungle. Modern Phalaenopsis hybrids are very colorful. Some are pink, while others are white with colored lips, yellow, spotted or striped like peppermint candy. The wedding favorites are large white flowers with yellow in the lip. For all of these, the flowers will last for several months with the proper care.
Potting: We recommend that plants potted in 3" pots in fir bark based mixes be watered about once every 3-5 days in the home; plants in 4” pots in fir bark based mixes be watered about once every 5-7 days in the home; and that plants potted in 5-6" pots in fir bark mixes and in blonde New Zealand or Chilean Sphagnum be watered about once every 7-10 days in the home. Growmore 20-10-20 or Dyna-Gro 7-9-5 may be added to the water once every month according to package instructions or may be mixed weaker than indicated on the package and used every second or third watering.
We recommend watering and fertilizing phalaenopsis potted in peat based mixtures such as Pro-Mix HP/Sponge Rock less than the same plants in fir bark based mixes. Usually every 7-10 days. Too much water or too much fertilizer will damage phalaenopsis; especially those in a peat based mix, so the best practice is to water and fertilize lightly and not too often. Misting phalaenopsis in a peat-based mix is not recommended, for it may increase the likelihood of fungal or bacterial problems.
Watering: After the plants are watered, they should be placed so that the pots do not stand in water. Some people like to place the pots on "humidity trays" or in trays or saucers of gravel. This helps to insure that the base of the pot is not immersed in water and provides some air circulation under the pot.
Lighting: Place the plants in or near a sunny window. When grown as houseplants, phalaenopsis need bright, indirect light to do their best. Phalaenopsis and Paphiopedilums do not need as much light as cattleyas, Cymbidiums or Vandas, but they do need at least the light required to bloom African Violets. They will be comfortable at any temperature that is comfortable for humans (60-80 degrees). Avoid cold or warm drafts - such as near an open window or heat vent.
Temperatures: Phalaenopsis normally flower once each year, initiating the new bloom spike in the fall or winter of the year and flowering during mid-winter or spring. Exposure to cool temperatures (50-55 degrees) for at least a few days in the early fall may encourage spikes to develop sooner. Frequently, a secondary bloom spike will form on the old spike.
Note: This guide is only applicable to phalaenopsis. For other varieties, please click on one of these links: