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.

Plant Identification

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 RequirementsPhal Orchid

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.

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4 Responses to “A Brief Overview of the Genus Phalaenopsis”

  1. sherri smith says:

    More of a question. My Phalaenopsis have roots all over and the plant itself is about2-4 inches above the medium. when I repot do I bury all the roots to or leave the plant and roots that are above the soil stay out of the medium

    1. Celeste Booth says:

      Hi Sherri, If these are aerial roots, then they can be left above the medium as they were in the smaller pot.

  2. joan johnson 905 596 0041 says:

    My plant kept having babies when I had the stock, one is doing well potted the other didnt make it but in 4 years I had flowers finally last fall but they never opened and lasted like that for months! I finally cut the stem off. When I water, I soak them fo 12 hrs with water covering the bark mix. I do this when they have dried out. I have al
    so done the ice cube thing. No stem or anything yet! Help please?

    1. Corky Smith says:

      Orchids are tropical. So it would be better to stop doing “the ice cube thing”! Also, orchids needs watering when dry, every five to seven days, but the roots need air as well: twelve hours submerged in water is probably too long. They should be well watered, then allowed to dry between waterings. An hour sitting in a dish that retains the water around the base of their pot is enough. Be sure the pot they are planted in has excellent drainage.

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