Intro: Phalaenopsis orchids, aka moth orchids, are the most commonly kept orchid flowers in the gardening hobby. There are thousands of orchid hybrids, and many are almost impossible to care for. If you choose a cheap orchid that you find in the grocery store or local garden shop, the odds are that it is an easier variety. These varieties are easy to keep alive, as long as the gardener realizes that orchid care is much different than most container plants that we keep.
Check out this time-lapse video of a Phalaenopsis orchid blooming.
Scientific Name: Phalaenopsis species
Plant Type: Epiphytic flower
Light: Orchid flowers to best in bright indirect light. Place your flower next to a southern-facing window that receives 12 to 14 hours of light a day. If you don’t have enough light, place a light bulb (one made for growing plants) about 8 inches away from the leaves.
Water: One day a week take your orchid flower to the kitchen sink and drench it with water. Let all of the excess water drain out of the bottom of the plant container, and then place the orchid plant back in its spot. Keep your orchid flower on a humidity tray (a tray with rocks and water) and/or spray its leaves (never the flower itself) each morning with water. Distilled water works best, as tap water will leave a white film that will build up on the orchid's leaves. Wipe the leaves once a month to remove dust and any film buildup.
Zone: Phalaenopsis typically won’t survive outside in a balcony garden. Temperatures should be between about 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Orchids are strictly indoor plants, as they are very delicate.
Fertilizer: Use an orchid fertilizer once a month.
Pests and Diseases: Although some garden pests, such as snails, aphids and mealy bugs, can attack orchid plants, it should not be a problem indoors. You should not have any problems with diseases affecting your orchid plant.
Propagation: Orchids can be propagated from seed, but this is incredibly difficult. Instead propagate by division. Divided plants will not bloom for at least a year.
Misc. Info: Orchids are different from many other of the container plants we keep. It is an epiphyte, meaning that it grows on another plant and not in soil. An orchid will not do well in potting soil – instead it should be planted in a peat mixture. Find some "orchid" mix at your local garden center and use that. Your orchid will also need to be potted in a plastic plant container, which will then be placed inside of a decorative container. Orchids are often displayed in baskets, but their inner plastic containers can be placed in any other kind of container.
Orchid flowers grow on spikes. Typically orchid-growers will place bamboo sticks in the orchid’s container and use small inconspicuous clips to clip the flower spikes to the bamboo sticks. This structure supports the flower spikes and displays the flower nicely. After the orchid plant blooms wilt and fall off, cut the flower spikes and let the orchid rest. After flowers die, your orchid may grow another leaf or two until it blooms again.
Make sure that your orchid flower isn’t exposed to any drafts in your indoor garden. Air from a window or a vent can dry it out and kill it. On the other hand, they will do best if kept underneath a fan that provides gentle air movement. You can also purchase a small fan for about $10 from and keep that blowing on the orchid plant at all times. Other indoor plants will benefit from a fan, as well, as stagnant air can lead to plant disease.
Repot your orchid every other year or whenever it becomes too root-bound. Orchids do well with little potting material and little space, so you should not have to repot your orchid until you've kept it in your garden for several years.