A Brief Overview of the Genus Phalaenopsis
Author: Celeste Booth4 Comments
Phalaenopsis orchids (pronounced fayl-eh-NOP-sis) are possibly the best beginner’s plant. They are called Phals for short and also referred to as Moth Orchids. Phals are among the easiest orchids to grow at home. They prefer lower light and warm home temperatures where winter nights do not drop below 60ºF. Phalaenopsis send up long arching sprays of flowers up to 6 inches across, in colors from basic white to pink, yellow, peach, red and green. The flowers resemble wide-winged moths in flight.
Naming and Distribution
Phalaino originates from the Greek root of “moth” and opsis meaning “likeness”, so the name Phalaenopsis means moth-like, referring to the shape of the flowers. Phalaenopsis orchids are found growing throughout Asia and Australia.
Phalaenopsis are monopodial orchids, growing upwards from one point. Healthy plants will have many leaves growing from the base and a tall stem from which flowers will bud and bloom in abundance for several weeks. Flowers come in a wide range of colors, the most common being white, pink, and shades of purple, and are roughly 2-4 inches across. Blue and black are not colors naturally found in orchid flowers. When you see bright blue Phals for sale, take note that these plants have been dyed to look this way and will rebloom white.
General Care Requirements
LIGHT: A well-lit area with no direct sun is best. East-facing windows or shaded south or west windows are good options.
TEMPERATURE: During the daytime, Phals like temperatures of 75-85ºF. Nighttime temperatures around or above 60ºF will do nicely.
WATER: Once a week is usually sufficient (do not let potting medium completely dry out between waterings).
POTTING: Repot only when needed. You should repot your orchid in the spring, after flowering.