Phalaenopsis or moth orchids are usually known as and named Phal. Phalaenopsis is one of the most famous and liked orchid genus in the horticulture trade. The credit of this goes to the interest of gardeners in the species. Over hundred of artificial hybrids have been developed of the plant. The orchid is native to Queensland, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, China, Taiwan, Southern China and New Guinea and Bismarck Archipelago.
The name, Phalaenopsis was given to the plant by Carl Linnaeus due to its resemblance to the flying moths in some specific months. The name when translates to Phalaen[a]-like in Greek language. Due to their resemblance with moths, the plant is called moth orchid.
You can easily spot the plant in the Himalayan range, northern Australia, Palawan and the islands of Polillo. Despite its wide availability, the research about their natural habitat and growing conditions has started intensely in past a few decades only. Taiwan’s Orchid Island has been named after these flowers.
Usually the species is epiphytic but some of them are also lithophytes. In wild, the plants take a liking to the moist and humid lands that don’t get direct sunlight. Cool and dry lands are perfect for these plants when growing in the wild.
Recently, Kingidium P.F.Hunt and Doritis Lindl have been included in the Phalaenopsis but this taxonomic change hasn’t been received well by all botanists.
Thanks to intensive cross fertilization, the plant has now over 100 hybrids. The hybrids fare better in indoor and artificially stimulated conditions. The most hybrid species are Phalaenopsis schilleriana, Phalaenopsis amabilis and Phalaenopsis stuartiana.
These are one of the most beautiful and easiest orchids to grow. Since the flowers also stay all pepped up for about three months and don’t requirement much of care, these are the favorite of gardeners and florists. However, please note that flowering interval vary with every species and usually, the plant bloom twice a year.
The plants develop from monopodial, which indicates that there is one single stem that grows into leaves as it gets older. The older leaves drop off as the new leaves keep coming on the top. It is to be noted that plant doesn’t have rhizome or pseudobulbs. If the plant is healthy, you can spot up to 10 leaves. The raceme or panicle inflorescence occurs between the leaves. The flowers can stay up to weeks in wild whereas in home with proper care and fertilization, the life of flowers can be extended up to three to four months. However, after this the plant tends to go into hibernation mode to conserve energy for root, leaf and bud development for the next growing phase.
Some Phalaenopsis species follow different growing patterns such as:
Longa and branched inflorescence that can extend up to 1m long. The flowers are large and round in shape. The flowers can be rose-colored or with white tints on them.
Short-stemmed plants with smaller yet round and waxy, bright-colored flowers are also found.
Average daytime temperature can go to 70-85F whereas night temperature can be around 60-65F. It is the same temperature range that we prefer so if it is too hot or cold for you, it is a signal that you need to make necessary arrangement. Extremely chilling environment can cause damage to the bud formation whereas too much of exposure to Sun can cause burn on leaves. The plant prefers indirect sunlight.
Like every other plant, overwatering is a strict no-no with phalaenopsis as well. If the weather is moist, plant the weather once a week. Keep the soil moist yet well drained. The moisture is needed by the plant.
Phalaenopsis prefers 55-70% of humidity level in air. If you find the weather dry, it is advised to keep a tray of water beneath the plant to increase the moisture level around it. You don’t have to make it sit directly in the water though. You can use pebbles or stones to keep the plant separate from water dish.
The plant love fertilization, which can be scheduled year round on once a month basis! It is advised to use high on nitrogen fertilizer in the ratio of 1 teaspoon per gallon. However, as they say, excess of everything is bad so, if you aren’t sure about the correct dosage, contact the local florist online or an expert gardener. Excess fertilization can render the plant infertile and it may not bloom at all. You need to get specific fertilizer made for orchids and orchid mix as floral food for cut flowers.
The phalaenopsis needs to be repotted every year. The plant can be repotted in the same pot as it tends to grow upwards and not in diameter. The stem grows to become leaves. Make sure to water the plant regularly until you see some new growth in leaves and see the root established properly. You need to wait until you see the last flower and leaves withering and dropping to the ground. Cut the stem from top to halfway down. You need to pay proper attention to it until you see re-blooming. Ensure that you have prepped up the repotted plant with organic orchid flower mix.
You can do repotting anytime of the year. If the plant is residing in the same compost for two years, it is time to repot it. If the roots have started to show green tips and have been showing active growth or if you find that the same pot cannot accommodate the growth of the plant anymore, it is signaling that the plant is in desperate need of repotting.
If you are using old pot for repotting, ensure that you have cleaned the pot thoroughly.
If you want to have another chance at growing the same plant again, reblooming is the key and the keyword to it is strong root system. The root system decides the growth of plant year after year. You may find that the leaves of plants are in place but the plant has skipped the blooming phase, which mainly happens due to weak roots.
Please note that phalaenopsis are epiphytes, which implies that they are air plants and their roots require air to breathe even if the plant is potted in a container. In wild, they prefer to cling to a tree for proper ventilation of air.
If the plant sheds flowers as soon as summer approaches, don’t worry as it is getting prepared for its next flowering season. The flowers may appear again as the winter arrives.