THE MOTH ORCHID
Phalaenopsis are epiphytes and native to the South East Asian rain forests through to Cape York Peninsula, North Queensland. They are the best variety of orchid to grow in our homes, or in heated greenhouses. Average home temperatures and conditions are usually sufficient for them to thrive.
HOW TO GROW PHALAENOPSIS
CONDITIONS: They grow easily in a bright window with little or no sun. In an artificially heated green-house, shade must be given, so 70% to 85% is ideal.
TEMPERATURES: They prefer to be above 15C at night and range between 20C and 26C during the day. Although higher temperatures force faster vegetative growth, higher humidity and air movement must accompany those higher temperatures. Be aware that fluctuating temperatures can cause bud drop on plants with buds ready to open.
WATERING: Water is critical for Phalaenopsis as they do not have any water storage system other than their leaves. Never let them completely dry out. Plants should be thoroughly watered, then allowed to nearly dry before watering again. To prevent bud drop, water only in the mornings so that the leaves can dry before nightfall.
HUMIDITY: Phalaenopsis come from tropical climes, so humidity is essential for a healthy plant, especially in Summer. Sit your plants on water, NOT in water. So place gravel or stones in a waterproof tray and have the pot sitting on top of the water.
FERTILIZING: Remember to feed your plant fortnightly with a high Nitrogen fertilizer (30-10-10) where a bark based potting mix is used. If growing in Sphagnum Moss, use a quarter strength solutions. When ready for flowering, use a bloom booster (10-30-20) to assist in the initiation of flower spikes.
POTTING: Spring time, immediately after flowering, is the best time to repot your plant. They can be done every 1 to 3 years depending on the size of the plant and/or pot or the potting media used. A well-draining Bark mix is ideal or Moss is also great, but that needs to be replaced yearly. Clean up the plant by removing any dead roots and leaves and place in the centre of a squat pot. Cover the roots to the level where they meet the leaves, allowing enough space around the plant so it’s stable, Firm down, ensuring the bark or moss is worked among the roots. Water well.
FLOWER SPIKES: Can be encouraged to branch, once the flowers have finished, by trimming the spike back to the third node of the original spike.