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Often sold for just a few dollars at supermarkets, moth orchid combines spectacular long-lasting flowers (which resemble butterflies) with an easy-care regimen. In fact, it’s known as the easiest orchid to grow in the 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 Colors
Moth orchid flowers come in a variety of colors—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
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. (Moth orchid tolerates low light, too, but blooms better when light is brighter.) Too much sunlight can be detrimental, though. Situate an orchid 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, as you'll learn below.) Pot a Phalaenopsis orchid 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—probably 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 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.