Often sold for just a few dollars at supermarkets, moth orchid combines spectacular, long-lasting flowers (which resemble butterflies or moths) with an easy-care regimen. In fact, it’s one of the easiest orchids to grow in your home. Enjoy this beauty in brightly lit rooms throughout the house; you’ll especially appreciate its long-lasting blossoms during the dreary months of winter. And don’t shy away from giving it as a gift. This orchid is so simple to take care of that even houseplant newbies will succeed.
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Moth orchid flowers come in a variety of colors, including white, purple, pink, salmon, or yellow, and interesting speckled or blotched patterns. You may want to group several potted orchids in the same display or include other tropical houseplants to add intrigue. Here are two good options: Earth star (Cryptanthus spp.), for example, is a type of bromeliad that is prized for its colorful foliage. Or soften the base of an orchid with rosary vine (Ceropegia woodii). Also called string of hearts, rosary vine is a succulent with heart-shape leaves veined in silver.
Moth Orchid Care Must-Knows
Grow moth orchid in a well-lit spot in your home. Medium or bright light from a south- or west-facing window will encourage this tropical beauty to bloom for long periods of time. (This orchid tolerates low light, too, but blooms better when light is brighter.) Too much sunlight can be detrimental, though. Situate your plant so it's protected from direct afternoon sun that can scorch leaves.
Orchids prefer life on the dry side, at least when it comes to their roots. (Humidity is another thing.) Pot a Phalaenopsis in orchid bark or sphagnum moss; if you grow it in potting mix, the roots will likely rot and die. Only water the plant when the bark or moss it is planted in dries out, about every 10 to 14 days. Let water run through the planting medium and out the drainage holes for a couple of minutes each time you tackle this chore. By the way, when the planting medium breaks down and begins to look like soil, it's probably time to repot the plant in a bigger container with fresh bark or moss.
Like many tropical plants, moth orchid thrives in humid environments. Boost the humidity around your orchid by setting it on a tray of pebbles. Partially fill the tray with water, making sure the orchid is sitting well above the water line. The water will evaporate gradually, humidifying the air surrounding the plant. You can also boost humidity by grouping an orchid with other houseplants.
Feed your plant using a fertilizer made especially for orchids a couple of times in spring to encourage bloom (follow the manufacturer's directions). Hold off on the plant food and water less in fall and winter when the plants usually rest. Moth orchids typically bloom once a year in late winter or early spring. After the blossoms fade, cut off the flower spike at the base of the plant and continue to water and care for the orchid as usual. In all likelihood it will bloom again the following year.
More Varieties of Moth Orchid
Golden Peoker Moth Orchid
Phalaenopsis 'Golden Peoker' is a hybrid that features large spots and blotches of dark burgundy red on white petals with yellow highlighting the center. It was the first of a new category of moth orchid known as harlequins.
Jupiter Moth Orchid
This Phalaenopsis variety shows off spikes of white flowers that have a red-pink center.
Dragon's Gold Moth Orchid
This selection of Phalaenopsis bears spikes of yellow-green flowers on a compact plant with dark green foliage.
Phalaenopsis schilleriana offers fragrant pink flowers. It also has bold foliage marbled with silvery streaks.
This type of moth orchid (Phalaenopsis stuartiana) offers white starry flowers with red spots. The dramatic dark green foliage has silvery markings on top and burgundy blotches beneath.
Sedona's Maki Dream Moth Orchid
Phalaenopsis 'Sedona's Maki Dream' bears spikes of many lovely lavender-pink flowers.
Sogo David Moth Orchid
This cultivar of Phalaenopsis offers spikes of yellow flowers with pink speckles that become more dense toward the blooms' center.
Taisuco Moth Orchid
Phalaenopsis 'Taisuco Koohdan' bursts forth with spikes of large pure-white flowers.