How to care for your...Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis)

by Lea charpier on August 15, 2020

Where to place your Moth Orchid?

Place it pretty close to eastern exposure window, without touching the actual glass.  The light intensity drops dramatically as you get further from the window.  You can grow moth orchids in other exposures such as west or south, but you should shield them from too much sun otherwise they will burn!  Either draw your blinds or a sheer curtain. Filtered bright light works great.  

Watering and fertilizing your Orchid

Establishing good watering practices can be a bit tricky at first for a new orchid owner. Each growing environment is unique.  Phalaenopsis like to stay generally moist but not sopping wet and must always be kept in a pot with good drainage.  You may take your orchids to the sink every weekend and give them a good soaking in the sink.  Use tepid water.

Moth orchids, like many types of orchids, are epiphytes (air plants).  Epiphytes grow above ground, derive their moisture from the air and rain, and usually grow on another plant, such as a tree branch or trunk.  If you look carefully, you’ll notice that moth orchids do not grow in potting soil!  You will kill a moth orchid if you repot it into potting soil.  They need a highly aerated mix.  They are most commonly grown in a chunky bark mix or in sphagnum moss.  

Experts recommend fertilizing Phalaenopsis orchids only after its blooms have dropped. 

Growers suggest using a "balanced" fertilizer such as 20-20-20 that includes all "necessary trace elements." Regardless of the fertilizer formulation you choose to use, it should contain little or no urea. If you are unsure of what fertilizer to use, you can generally use any fertilizer you would for your other container plants. Orchids will do far better with too little fertilizer than with too much. Many growers recommend the "weakly, weekly" approach, applying a dilute (1/4 strength) fertilizer each time they water, rather than applying a full dose once a month. Also, it is best not to fertilize a completely dry plant as the fertilizer can burn the dry roots. Water first then follow with fertilizer solution.

Apply fertilizer carefully. To avoid burning the orchid’s leaves, do not pour fertilizer directly over the plant. Using a narrow-spouted pitcher, gently lift the orchid’s leaves and slowly pour the fertilizer into the pot. Allow the pot to drain thoroughly to remove excess fertilizer. Do not water your orchid on the weeks you fertilize it. 

(suitable fertilizers available on My Green Chapter BioVitaFruit & Flower Fertilizer)

Getting your Moth Orchid to rebloom

Hang on to your orchids after the blooms fade. With a little TLC the plant will flower again. After the flowers drop from the orchid you have three choices: leave the flower spike (or stem) intact, cut it back to a node, or remove it entirely. Remove the flower spike entirely by clipping it off at the base of the plant. This is definitely the route to take if the existing stem starts to turn brown or yellow. Withered stems won’t produce flowers. Removing the stem will direct the plant’s energy toward root development, which makes for a healthier plant and increased chances for new bloom spikes. 

Phalaenopsis orchids typically flower once a year. To identify a new bloom spike, look for roots that are growing upwards with glossy green points, rather than round tips.

Once a bloom spike appears, increase feeding to every other week with a liquid houseplant fertilizer that has been diluted to half the recommended strength and support the stem with a stake as it grows.



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