- The phalaenopsis orchid is native to southeast Asia and Australia. The name comes from "phaelana," a category of large moths, because of the plant's rounded petals. The plant is often called the "moth orchid." Some types of orchid are epiphytes, that is, they grow attached to trees but feed independently from the tree on nearby decaying organic matter and rainwater. Other types grow on the ground in soil. Phalaenopsis is an epiphytic variety that is often recommended to beginning orchid growers because of its easy care and hardiness. Flowers of the phalaenopsis can last from 80 to 120 days, depending on conditions.
- Phalaenopsis orchids are planted in a quick-drying medium like tree fern fiber, fir bark, peat moss, perlite or a combination of these. The roots of phalaenopsis will begin to rot if allowed to sit in an old, soggy medium. Re-pot fast-growing young plants every year to maintain good root contact with the medium. Older plants can be planted in coarser medium and changed as needed, according to TexasSuperstar. Position phalaenopsis orchids in a area with bright light but not direct sunlight. In low-light northern areas, place in a southern exposure or under artificial light. Place lights no closer than within 1 foot of the plant and reduce the exposure if leaves feel warm to the touch. Do not allow the medium to dry out completely at any time. Maintain temperatures between 70 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and no lower than 60 degrees at night. Keep humidity at 50 and 80 percent by placing the plant on top of gravel on a tray of water, if necessary. Fertilize with a 20-20-20 fertilizer monthly.
Pests of Phalaenopsis
- The most common pests of phalaenopsis orchids are mealybugs, scale, mites, aphids, slugs and snails. Mealybugs are grayish-yellow, soft-bodied insects with filaments that stick out of the side portions of their bodies that look like many legs. Scale looks like shiny, hard, half-globes attached to stems and undersides of leaves. Mites are tiny, yellowish-green insects that may leave webs on leaves. Aphids are soft-bodies insects that appear greenish-yellow or black, with pear-shaped bodies and long legs. Slugs and snails may leave shiny trails behind, as well as chewed flowers, leaves and plant roots.
Treatments For Pest Problems
- These common pests of orchid plants can be removed by wiping with a soft cloth and soapy water or a cotton ball dipped in isopropyl alcohol, according to EverSpringOrchids specialist Gerry King. Avoid using commercial chemical pesticides, if possible, follow label directions carefully if you must use them to control insects.