Flower Power: Moth Orchids

Exotic, elegant and easy, this orchid will flourish in your home.
By: DK Books - Grow Plants in Pots
Phalaenopsis Timothy Christopher moth

Phalaenopsis Timothy Christopher moth

Photo by: Image courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden

Image courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden

The popularity of moth orchids is well deserved. These plants bear lots of elegant flowers on branched stems that last for months and will often produce several flushes of blooms throughout the year. Best of all, they are not picky about temperatures and will flourish in the average centrally heated family room.

With exotic blooms in just about every color imaginable, which remain on the plants for months and will often reward you with repeat flowering during the year, you’d expect there to be a catch. But there isn’t one. Phalaenopsis, or moth orchids, will perform well in any room that is unheated in the summer and kept warm by a central-heating system during the winter.

Flowers usually appear on multi-branched stems that will need supporting with small stakes. Plants bloom at any time of year, and by selecting a few varieties, you can enjoy a continuous floral display. Moth orchids are ideally placed on an east-facing windowsill or in another bright spot out of direct sunlight. To ensure they perform well, water regularly to keep the compost damp, but avoid over-watering to prevent roots from rotting. They enjoy high humidity, so stand pots on a shallow pebble tray half-filled with water, or mist leaves with a handheld sprayer. Do this in the morning so the moisture can dry before evening. A layer of moss placed on top of the compost will help to retain moisture, as well as giving your arrangement an attractive finish.

The Phalaenopsis hybrid has a  height and spread of 12 inches (30 cm). They require exposure to light, but not in direct sun. The temperature needs are 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) or higher in daytime; 61 degrees (16 degrees Celsius) or higher at night. Any time is suitable for flowering time. Use orchid compost.

Encourage Repeat Flowering

After the flowers start to fade, cut the stalk back to the second leaf joint from the bottom. A further stalk should form from this point and carry more buds to give you another show of flowers. Use a liquid orchid fertilizer when you water your plants (following the instructions) to encourage flower production.

Top Tip

Try Phalaenopsis hybrids. If you can grow Phalaenopsis, you can’t fail with Doritaenopsis orchids, a cross between Phalaenopsis and Doritis. There is a huge range of colorful hybrids, such as the striking Doritaenopsis 'Taida Sweet Berry', and they’re grown in exactly the same way as Phalaenopsis.

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