If you want to try growing orchids at home, Phalaenopsis orchids (Phalaenopsis spp.) are one of my favorite choices. Also commonly known as ‘Moth Orchids,’ these plants are easy to care for and produce gorgeous blooms. Plus, there are 50+ species and hybrids you can choose from. In this guide, I’ll run through my essential Phalaenopsis orchid care tips at home.
Phalaenopsis Orchid Care – Key Takeaways
|Common Name:||Moth Orchid, Phalaenopsis Orchid|
|Scientific Name:||Phalaenopsis spp.|
|Native Range:||Southeast Asia, Philippines, Northern Australia|
|Soil:||I prefer a standard orchid mix, typically made up of bark, perlite, and charcoal; excellent drainage is key.|
|Light:||Bright, indirect light; avoid direct sunlight, which can burn the leaves|
|Watering:||Water thoroughly once a week or when the top inch of the medium feels dry; ensure the pot drains well and avoid letting the plant sit in water|
|Temperature:||Ideal range is between 65-80°F (18-27°C) during the day and 60-65°F (15-18°C) at night|
|Fertilizing:||Feed with a balanced orchid fertilizer diluted to half strength every 2-4 weeks during the growing season; reduce fertilizing in winter|
|Pruning:||Remove dead or yellowing leaves and spent flower spikes to maintain appearance; use sharp, sanitized shears|
|Pests:||Common pests include aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs; can be managed with regular cleaning, appropriate watering, and the use of insecticidal soaps or neem oil if needed|
|Toxicity:||Non-toxic to pets and humans; however, it’s always best to keep plants out of reach from pets and small children.|
How to Grow and Care for Phalaenopsis Orchids at Home
These orchids aren’t too particular about their pots, but you want to ensure they provide a couple of essential factors.
Orchid potting containers should be large enough to prevent overcrowding. Orchids’ roots don’t like being crowded; instead, they prefer room to spread.
No matter what type of container you choose, you must ensure it contains adequate drainage holes. Improper drainage can lead to problems with root rot.
The Best Soil and Potting Mix
In the wild, these plants grow on other plants or rocks rather than the soil itself. Your job is to mimic these conditions.
Fortunately, you can find many orchid potting mixes in stores (via Amazon). These coarse mixes provide good airflow and drainage.
If you can’t find an orchid potting mix, you can use 3/4 bark chips mixed with 1/4 peat moss.
While these plants are native to tropical forests, they often grow beneath taller trees. Therefore, they like bright yet indirect light. They can tolerate lower light as well.
During the winter, these plants need higher light levels to encourage flowering. As light intensifies in the summer, you can move them to a lower-light area. For more, see our guide to the best locations to position orchid plants in the home.
Temperature and Humidity Preferences
During active growth and flowering periods, keep your orchid in a room that is 65-80ºF.
Once your plant is done flowering, you’ll want to move it to a cooler area. Phalaenopsis orchids require nighttime temperatures between 55-60ºF to induce the formation of a flowering spike.
Keep Phalaenopsis orchids away from both hot and cold drafts.
These plants can do well in moderate to high humidity. If you have high humidity, make sure to provide proper airflow. This will help prevent disease issues.
For more, see our in-depth guide to orchid plant temperature and humidity tolerances.
When and How to Water
Unlike some other orchids, Phalaenopsis orchids don’t have large water-storage organs known as pseudobulbs. This means that they have lower drought tolerance.
Water your orchid about once a week during the summer and once every two weeks in the winter. Once you see the top of the bark turn dry, it’s time to water.
Make sure that water is freely draining from the plant’s pot. If water settles around the plant’s leaves, they may rot and die. You should also avoid splashing water on the plant’s leaves.
For more, see our essential orchid watering guide.
Feeding and Fertilizing
The frequency at which you fertilize depends on your plant’s growth stage.
When your plant is growing but not flowering, fertilize every week with a half-strength, balanced houseplant fertilizer. Once your plant forms flower buds, fertilize every other week.
To encourage your plant to form a new flower spike, you may provide a dose of flowering, houseplant fertilizer.
For more, see our in-depth guide to fertilizing orchid plants.
Pruning and Staking
You don’t need to prune these plants regularly. The only pruning they need is the trimming of the flower stalk.
However, Phalaenopsis orchids benefit from staking. By taking the time to support the single flower stalk, you’ll end up with healthy blooms.
It’s best to stake your plant when it has developed a flower stalk before it develops flower buds. Use a bamboo flower stake and flower clip to gently clip the flower stalk to the stake.
Common Phalaenopsis Orchid Problems, Pests & Diseases
With a little care, orchids can live for many years to come. Phalaenopsis orchids suffer from many of the same problems that impact other orchids. Keep a lookout for the following.
These soft-bodied insects resemble cotton. While they may look harmless, they can quickly suck sap from your plant and spread disease.
If you notice only a few mealybugs, you can remove them using a spray bottle or damp cloth. Use neem oil or insecticidal soap to treat larger infestations.
If you notice soft, mushy roots, your plants are likely suffering from root rot. Another sign of root rot is yellowing leaves.
Overwatering, inappropriate containers, or potting mix often cause root rot.
Remove the plant and trim off damaged roots if you spot root rot. Make sure your orchid is planted in a coarse potting mix and a container with drainage holes.
Bud Die Back
Several factors could be to blame if your plant forms buds but doesn’t form flowers.
Ensure your plant receives an adequate amount of light and the proper temperature and humidity.
If your buds die back, it’s best to cut back the flower stalk and start new.
For more, see our in-depth guide to common orchid plant pests, bugs, and diseases.
Phalaenopsis Orchid FAQs:
Are Phalaenopsis Orchids Toxic to Humans and Animals?
According to the ASPCA, Phalaenopsis orchids are non-toxic to dogs, cats, and horses. These orchids are also non-toxic to humans.
Should I Cut Back Flower Spikes as Phalaenopsis Orchids Go Out of Bloom?
Yes! Once your plant is done blooming, trim the flower spike using a sharp pair of shears. Cut the stalk at the second node below the flowers.
How Do I Get My Phalaenopsis Orchid to Rebloom?
After blooms fall off your orchid, you’ll need to practice some patience. Phalaenopsis orchids typically require at least six months of rest before they can bloom again.
To encourage new blooms, fertilize your plant twice a month with a half-strength, balanced houseplant fertilizer. Keep your plant somewhere a bit cooler (around 55-60ºF at night) until a new flower spike appears.
How Many Times Do Phalaenopsis Orchids Bloom?
Phalaenopsis orchids can bloom multiple times throughout their lives, and these blooms can last multiple months!
They do require a bit of time between flowerings, so expect flowers once a year. These plants can produce flowers at any time of year, so you can’t expect flowers at a particular time.
How Long Do Phalaenopsis Orchids Last?
The plants themselves can live for over five years, and the flowers can last for three or more months!
What Do Phalaenopsis Orchids Symbolize?
These ornamental orchids symbolize beauty, elegance, and joy. Different flower colors can also symbolize fertility, happiness, and royalty.
Phalaenopsis Orchid Care – Wrapping Up
Now that you know more about caring for Phalaenopsis orchids, it’s time to find a few to add to your home. After you master caring for this genus of orchids, you can move onto caring for other species.