The Phalaenopsis, or "moth," orchid is recommended for beginning orchid enthusiasts. This orchid hails from Southeast Asia, the Philippines, New Guinea and tropical Australia. Not only are its flowers gorgeous, but also it's fairly easy to grow in your home, compared with other orchid varieties. Many cultivars of Phalaenopsis exist, so you'll have your choice of flower colors and sizes when you shop for your plant. And when it blooms for the first time, you might be surprised when the flowers remain looking good for up to three months. With just a few special needs, the Phalaenopsis is definitely worth a try.
Caring For a Phalaenopsis Orchid
Repot your Phalaenopsis into a decorative pot with a drainage hole if you wish, but it will do fine in its small nursery pot for the first two to three years of its life with you. If you do repot it, use shredded bark designed for orchids.
Keep your Phalaenopsis in an indoor area that receives bright reflected light but no direct sun. If you need to, you can provide artificial light to satisfy its requirements. Set a fluorescent grow light 9 to 12 inches above your plant.
Keep the daytime temperature between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit and the nighttime temperature between 55 and 65 degrees. Usually, the normal home temperature is suitable for Phalaenopsis. They require lower temperatures in fall in order to generate a flower spike: allow the temperature to drop slightly below 60 degrees for about three weeks.
Provide humidity of 40 to 70 percent. It's helpful to place your plant on a saucer containing pebbles, which you keep moist. This will keep the roots out of standing water yet give the plant constant humidity. If you want, you can use a humidity tray, available for sale in plant catalogs and online (see Resources).
Water your Phalaenopsis once every week to 10 days when it begins to dry out but before it's completely dry. Drench it thoroughly.
Fertilize your Phalaenopsis with a diluted mixture of balanced plant food once every two weeks. Follow the instructions on the label and then dilute the fertilizer to ¼ or ½ strength. Cut back on fertilizing during the winter and do not fertilize your plant when it is very dry.