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Moth Orchids: What You Need to Know

Last Updated Mar 7, 2012 · Written by Jaclyn Fitzgerald

c While this is true of some species, it is definitely not the case for the moth orchid.  Moth orchids have the trademark exoticness of all orchids but they can be successfully grown by the average gardener.  Here’s everything you need to know. For more hints and tips about growing this beautiful plant, speak to your local nursery or gardening specialist.

General Information about the Moth Orchid

The moth orchid is also known as the phalaenopsis orchid.  They get their name due to the distinctive shape of the flowers. Moth orchids come in a range of colours including pinks, yellows, lavenders, and whites, and they can be solid in colour or have spot and stripes in the flower itself.  As the orchid becomes more popular, more flower varieties are created.  The moth orchid is popular as the flowers are incredibly long lasting. In fact, one single bloom can last for as long as three months!

Locating a Moth Orchid

Moth orchids do best in an indirect light, that is, in bright light but not direct sunlight as direct sun can actually damage the plant’s leaves.  If you’re keeping your moth orchid inside, it should be kept near a window that gets plenty of light throughout the day.  Outside, you can locate your orchid on a tree or in your garden as long as it doesn’t get hit by direct sun.

Get the Moisture and Temperature Right

If you’re keeping moth orchids, it’s absolutely vital that you maintain the humidity that they need.  You should mist your plant every day or two in the warmer months (taking care not to get any flowers wet). If you have trouble keeping the humidity around your plant constant, try using a special humidity tray.  Moth orchids also do not like being too dry so you should keep a close eye on the potting mix and ensure that it remains damp. Water once a week but never let the soil stay wet though or else the orchid may develop root rot.  Similarly, don’t let water stay in the crown of the plant or it may get crown rot.  Temperature wise, moth orchids are happiest when the temperature is between 13 and 27 degrees Celsius.

Fertilising Moth Orchids

Moth orchids need to be fertilised like any other plant and you should do this once or twice a month with a very weak solution.  You should actually halve or quarter the strength of liquid fertiliser, or halve or quarter the amount of solid fertiliser you use.  Use a balanced fertiliser in most cases, but in the summer months, try a high nitrogen fertiliser.

Repotting Your Moth Orchid

After a while, you’ll actually need to repot your moth orchid as the growing media disintegrates or you need a larger pot.  Gently remove the plant from the pot and shake away any remaining growing media.  Trim any obviously dead roots that you see.  Place the plant into its new pot and fill with a special orchid potting mix.

Pruning Your Moth Orchid

Generally you should not need to prune your moth orchid at all.  In fact, all you should need to do is remove any obviously dead leaves.  However, once the last flower has dropped from the orchid, cut the flower spike halfway down the stem.  Care for it as normal and you may get a second bloom in the year.
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