Phalaenopsis orchids are one of the most popular and widely grown orchids in the world. These beautiful and delicate flowers are native to Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
Also known as moth orchids, they are a popular choice for indoor gardening due to their delicate beauty, ease of maintenance, and ability to flower multiple times a year with proper care.
The Phalaenopsis genus has thousands of orchids to choose from, and remains the most popular one since it’s an excellent orchid for anyone to grow, even beginners.
These orchids’ flower stalks grow from leaf joints, or axils, and often bear multiple flower buds, which can bloom for a month or more when properly cared for. Their long-lasting flowers are held on arching branches and open in succession. Individual flowers can last for weeks and can be found on a single multi-branching flower spike.
As a master gardener, I’ve grown dozens of different varieties over the years and shared them with my friends and family. In this guide, I’ll share everything I’ve learned over the years to help you easily grow and care for Phalaenopsis orchids indoors.
Botanical Name: Phalaenopsis spp.
Common Name: Moth orchid, Phalaenopsis, phals
Plant Type: Perennial, herbaceous
Hardiness Zones: 10 – 12 (USDA)
Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect sunlight
Soil Type: Loose, well-drained
Soil pH: 5.5 – 6.0
Bloom Time: Late winter to spring
Flower Color: White, purple, pink, salmon, or yellow
Native Area: Southeastern Asia and part of Australia
Phalaenopsis Orchids Care
Phalaenopsis orchids are a popular choice for indoor plants due to their beautiful, long-lasting blooms and ease of care. These orchids are native to Southeast Asia and are commonly referred to as “moth orchids” due to their delicate, fluttering flowers. In this article, we will discuss the key factors in the care of Phalaenopsis orchids to help you keep your plants healthy and thriving.
One of the most important factors in the care of Phalaenopsis orchids is providing the right amount of light. These orchids do best in bright, indirect light, but not in direct sunlight. A window with sheer curtains or a shaded area near a window can provide the perfect amount of light for these plants.
They thrive in an east-facing window and can be grown in a south or west window with the help of a sheer curtain.
If you notice that your orchid’s leaves are turning yellow or brown, it may be getting too much light. On the other hand, if the leaves are dark green and not producing blooms, it may need more light.
Phalaenopsis orchids thrive in loose, well-draining potting mix, such as bark, sphagnum moss, or coconut coir. These materials provide the proper airflow and drainage necessary for the health of the plant’s roots.
Moth orchids are able to grow on trees in their natural habitat. Due to this, they are classified as an epiphyte, a plant type that needs a host but is not parasitic.
A potting mix made of fir tree bark, redwood bark chips, or Monterey pine bark chips is frequently used to grow potted orchids in order to replicate these conditions. The majority of bark potting media, complete with perlite, sphagnum moss, charcoal, or coconut husk chips, will help in the orchid’s ability to retain water.
Another option is to purchase commercial orchid potting mix. Phalaenopsis require plenty of air circulation around their root system because they do not thrive in a suffocating medium.
Proper watering is crucial for the health of Phalaenopsis orchids. These plants prefer to be moist but not waterlogged.
Phalaenopsis orchids are “monopodial,” meaning they grow from a single stem. It lacks the large water-storing pseudobulbs found on sympodial (or branching) orchids, so it is less drought tolerant.
Water the plant weekly or whenever its exposed roots turn silvery white (about once a week) during the growing season.
Allow the orchid plenty of time for absorption by running warm water over the plant, bark, and aerial roots three or four times over the course of about ten minutes. Then, before returning it to its window, make sure it is completely drained.
Water should never be allowed to pool around the stem of the plant. This will cause the new leaves to rot and the plant to die.
Another important aspect of watering is humidity. Phalaenopsis orchids prefer higher humidity levels, so if you live in a dry climate, you may need to increase the humidity around the plant. This can be done by misting the plant regularly, placing a humidifier near the orchid, or placing the pot on a tray filled with water and pebbles.
Temperature and Humidity
Phalaenopsis orchids prefer temperatures between 60-80°F with humidity levels between 50-70%. If the temperature drops below 60°F, the plant may stop producing blooms.
In addition to increasing humidity, you can also use a space heater or grow light to maintain the proper temperature for your orchid.
To encourage flowering and growth, it is important to fertilize Phalaenopsis orchids regularly with a balanced fertilizer, typically every two weeks. It is important to follow the recommendations on the fertilizer package, as over-fertilizing can lead to damage to the plant’s roots.
You can also use a fertilizer specifically formulated for orchids, which will provide the necessary nutrients for healthy growth and vibrant blooms.
Prune mature orchids once a year during their dormancy period, after the blooms have faded. Cut the top portion of the stem back to one inch above a node with clean scissors or a knife to encourage a new stem section and more blooms.
You can also carefully deadhead the plant; however, spent flowers may simply fall off on their own. Remove any brown or black leaves, and cut back any unhealthy roots that are either dead and brown, or mushy.
It is normal for orchid roots to extend above the soil. Please do not cut these aerial roots. You can just leave them as is.
Types of Phalaenopsis
There are approximately 60 true species of Phalaenopsis orchids. There are thousands of hybrids of these plants, ranging from the classic white hybrid moth orchid to jewel-like miniatures with clouds of yellow and candy pink blooms. Let’s look at some popular options:
Tigerhill Phalaenopsis: The white Phalaenopsis is one of the most popular types of orchids. It is known for its pure and pristine white petals that give off a sense of elegance and grace. The white Phalaenopsis is often used in weddings, as it symbolizes purity and innocence.
Phalaenopsis Yellow Orchid: The yellow Phalaenopsis is another popular variety. It is known for its bright and vibrant yellow petals that add a pop of color to any room. The yellow Phalaenopsis is often used to brighten up a dull and dreary space, as it brings a sense of warmth and happiness.
Mini Phalaenopsis Orchid: For those who love miniature plants, the miniature Phalaenopsis is the perfect choice. These tiny plants are perfect for small spaces and can be easily grown on a windowsill or in a terrarium. They come in a variety of colors, including white, pink, and purple, and are just as beautiful as their larger counterparts.
Regardless of which type of Phalaenopsis orchid you choose, they all require similar care and attention.
How to Propagate Phalaenopsis Orchids
Phalaenopsis orchids are one of the most popular and easy-to-care-for orchids. They are known for their stunning blooms and long-lasting flowers. But did you know that you can propagate these beautiful plants to create even more of them?
Propagating Phalaenopsis orchids can be done through division or keiki production.
Division involves separating a mature plant into multiple smaller plants. This method is best done when the orchid has outgrown its pot or when you want to create more plants.
To divide a Phalaenopsis orchid, gently remove it from its pot and carefully separate the roots into smaller sections. Each section should have at least three healthy leaves and a good root system.
Plant each section into its own pot with fresh orchid mix and water thoroughly. Place the newly divided orchids in a bright, indirect light and keep the soil moist but not wet.
Within a few weeks, new growth should appear, and you will have multiple new Phalaenopsis orchids to enjoy.
Keiki production involves growing a new plant from the base of the parent plant. This method is best done when the orchid has produced a keiki or baby plant.
Keikis are identical copies of the parent that appear on either old or new flower spikes on a regular basis.
After about a year, you can separate the keiki from the parent plant and give it its own pot. The keiki will have small roots and leaves growing from the base of the parent plant.
To propagate a Phalaenopsis orchid through keiki production, gently remove the keiki from the parent plant and plant it in its own pot with fresh orchid mix. Water thoroughly and place it in a bright, indirect light. The keiki should continue to grow and develop into a mature Phalaenopsis orchid.
Both division and keiki production should be done in the spring after the orchid has finished flowering. This will give the new plants enough time to establish themselves before the next growing season.
With a little patience and care, you can easily propagate your Phalaenopsis orchids and enjoy their stunning blooms for years to come.
Potting and Repotting Phalaenopsis Orchids
Phalaenopsis orchids are one of the most popular types of orchids due to their beautiful flowers and ease of care. However, in order to keep them healthy and thriving, it is important to repot them every 1-2 years or when the potting mix becomes old and broken down.
When selecting a new pot for your orchid, it is important to choose one that is the appropriate size for the plant’s roots. If the pot is too small, the roots will become crowded and the plant will not be able to absorb enough nutrients and water. On the other hand, if the pot is too large, the excess soil can hold too much moisture and lead to root rot.
Plastic and terra cotta pots are both acceptable as long as they have excellent drainage. To avoid the spread of orchid diseases, it is standard practice to sterilize all cutting and potting tools before using them on a plant.
This can be accomplished by flaming pruning shears with a butane torch or by spraying rubbing alcohol on them and wiping them clean with a clean paper towel.
When repotting your orchid, it is also a good time to inspect the roots for any signs of damage or disease. Healthy roots should be firm and white or green in color. If you notice any soft or brown roots, they should be trimmed off with sterile scissors to prevent the spread of disease.
It is important to use fresh potting mix when repotting your orchid. Phalaenopsis orchids prefer a well-draining mix that is a combination of bark, perlite, and sphagnum moss. This type of mix allows for proper air circulation around the roots and prevents water from becoming trapped in the soil.
After repotting your orchid, it is important to water it thoroughly and place it in a location with bright, indirect sunlight. Avoid placing it in direct sunlight as this can burn the leaves and flowers. With proper care and regular repotting, your Phalaenopsis orchid will continue to bloom and thrive for years to come.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases for Phalaenopsis Orchids
Phalaenopsis orchids are beautiful plants that can add a touch of elegance to any indoor space. However, they can be prone to a few different pests and diseases, which can be detrimental to their health and appearance.
Spider mites are tiny pests that can be difficult to see with the naked eye. They are usually found on the undersides of leaves and can cause damage by sucking the sap from the plant. This can result in yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and even death of the plant.
To prevent spider mites, it is important to keep the air around the plant moist. You can do this by misting the leaves regularly or placing the plant on a tray filled with pebbles and water. If you suspect that your plant has spider mites, you can treat it with an insecticidal soap or neem oil. Be sure to follow the instructions on the product carefully.
Mealybugs are another common pest that can affect Phalaenopsis orchids. They are small, white insects that look like bits of cotton. They can be found on the leaves, stems, and flowers of the plant and can cause damage by sucking the sap from the plant.
To prevent mealybugs, it is important to inspect your plant regularly and remove any affected parts immediately. You can also use an insecticidal soap or neem oil to treat the plant. Be sure to follow the instructions on the product carefully.
Root rot is a common problem for Phalaenopsis orchids, especially if they are overwatered or planted in a container without proper drainage. It is caused by a fungus that attacks the roots of the plant, causing them to rot and die.
To prevent root rot, it is important to plant your orchid in a container with proper drainage and to water it only when the soil is dry to the touch. If you suspect that your plant has root rot, you can try to save it by removing the affected roots and repotting the plant in fresh soil. However, if the rot has spread too far, it may be best to discard the plant and start fresh.
By following these tips for Phalaenopsis orchid care, you can successfully grow and enjoy these stunning plants indoors all year long. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or new to indoor gardening, these plants are a beautiful addition to any home or office.
Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa's work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.