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How To Care For Your Beautiful Phalaenopsis Orchid

Beautiful & somewhat exotic Phalaenopsis Orchids make great houseplants & are easy to care for. These photos & the video for these care & growing tips were shot in an orchid grower's greenhouses. A visual treat!

a woman in a coral shirt holds a phalaenopsis orchid with purple/blue flowers

Many of these Phalaenopsis Orchid care tips came straight from the growers themselves.

Holy Orchidaceae batman – how fascinating, gorgeous and intriguing your flowers are.  Each of your blooms is like a work of art!  Also known as the Moth Orchid, this is the one that does the best as a houseplant and can be commonly seen in restaurants, hotels, offices, spas and the like.  Here’s how to care for your Phalaenopsis Orchid to keep it healthy and also how to get it to bloom again.

many phalaenopsis orchids moth orchids in a grower's greenhouse

Caring for these beautiful orchids is not as hard as you may think.  This should help you out:

Light:  Make sure the light for your Phalaenopsis Orchid is as bright as possible without being in the hot, direct sun.  They will burn in no time flat if in a south or west facing window, especially in the summer.  However, in the darker winter months you may have to move if it to get more of that light it needs.  Think of a greenhouse that has lots of nice, natural light but the glass is white washed to diffuse the direct rays of the sun – that’s the exposure they love.

Temperature:   There’s a great concentration of Phalaenopsis Orchid growers here along the central coast of California because our temperatures are relatively even.  And, it cools down in the evening which is something else they love.  Be sure to keep them away from air conditioners and heaters as well as any hot or cold drafts.  Drumroll please: the ideal temperature for Phals is 60 to 75 degrees F.

Be sure to watch the video outlining their care.  Plus, it was shot in the greenhouses at Westerlay Orchids!

Watering:  I did a separate post & video on how I water my Phalaenopsis Orchids last week which has a lot more details in it.  In short, you want to water them thoroughly & let the water completely drain out.  If yours has gone bone dry, then you may want to soak it in a pail or bowl for 10 minutes making sure all water drains out.

Moss vs Bark:   Orchids grown in bark will dry out faster than those in moss which really holds the water in.  If your Phal is growing in bark, then you want to water it every 7-10 days.  If it’s growing in moss, then water it every 14-21 days.  There are variables to these numbers so again, be sure to check the post above.

I prefer to grow my orchids in bark because I have a much easier time getting the watering right. If you need to repot yours, this bark mix is a good growing medium.

close up of beautiful lavender/white phalaenopsis orchid moth orchid flowers

Fertilizing:   If you’ve read any of my other posts or watched my videos, then you know I don’t use a lot of fertilizers.  With orchids however, you really need to feed them because they’re not growing in soil.  Bark or moss doesn’t provide any of the nutrients they need.

The growers that I’ve talked to recommend a water soluble balanced fertilizer like 20-20-20 ( you can also use 20-10-20, 15-15-15 or 12-12-12) for the homeowner because the timing on orchid fertilizers can be very tricky.  Be sure to use it at 1/2 strength & feed your Phals every 30-45 days.  Not to be a broken record, but be sure the fertilizer thoroughly drains out because the build up of salts can cause the roots to burn. This is the the orchid fertilizer I use , which the grower uses also.

close up of large white phalaenopsis orchid moth orchid flowers with deep rose centers

Pruning for Re-Bloom:  Most growers get re-bloom from their Phalaenopsis Orchids in 6-9 months.  Mine usually re-bloom closer to the 9 month mark.  It’s best to watch the video for this, but the higher up you prune, the sooner it will flower again.  I’ll do a separate video on this in the next couple of months because it’s easier to understand by watching.  Some people prune the stem down to 1 node above the foliage which is fine but it takes longer for the stem to re-grow.  I prune just above the node below where the very 1st flower appeared.

By the way, if your Phal doesn’t re-bloom, the most common reason is that it doesn’t have enough light.

Humidity:   Obviously a greenhouse is ideal – no kidding Sherlock!  I live about 8 blocks from the ocean & have my windows open for about 7-8 months out of the year.  That means my Phals get a lot of the humidity they love.   If the air in your home is too dry, then you may have to put your orchid on a tray of pebbles filled with water to up the ante on the humidity.  Make sure the bottom of the pot or any of the thick, fleshy roots don’t sit directly in any water.

magenta mini phalaenopsis orchid moth orchid in a grower's tray

This is a mini Phal.

Air Roots:   Speaking of roots, your Phalenopsis will probably have some of them growing out of the pot.  It’s not because the orchid is pot bound – those are the air (or aerial) roots reaching for something to grab onto.  They’re epiphytes & in nature, they grow on other plants & those wandering, spider-like roots are what anchor them.

If your orchid has plenty of roots, then you can cut a couple of them off if they’re bothering you.  Do the same with the ones that are dead & dried up.

Colors:   When I worked for a florist in San Francisco so many moons ago, the colors you could find Phalaenopsis Orchids in were white, pale lavender & deep lavender.  My how times have changed!  They’re grown in so many more colors, variegations & color combos now.  As mentioned in the video, Westerlay Orchids has the popular Gemstone Series so you can even pick out your favorite jewel tone color.

many blue phalaenopsis orchids moth orchids in a grower's greenhouse

Here are some of the color-infused Gemstone Collection Phals.

Despite the fact that Phalaenopsis Orchids seem quite exotic to some, they make easy care houseplants.   2 of mine have been in bloom for almost 3 months now making them quite a bargain compared to cut flowers.  The Phalaenopsis has become America’s favorite orchid.  I love the many different types of orchids so it’s a tough choice for me.  I say, the more orchids the better!

Happy gardening,

Nell's signature
beautiful yellow & lavender phalaenopsis orchids moth orchids in a grower's greenhouse

Just for fun – a sea of Westerlay’s beautiful Phalaenopsis Orchids!

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  4. just purchased a darling orchid, when should I repot it and will it get larger than 2 inches?

  5. Hi Mary Lou – Orchids bloom best when tight in their pots so I’d give it at least another year until you repot it. Only go up a couple of inches on the pot size. The Darling Orchids max out at about 12″ tall. Nell

  6. What kind of fertilizer do you use on this

  7. Hi Diane – This is the one I use: I like it because it’s an all purpose food which you can use when your orchids are blooming & when they’re not. The grower told me to use it once a month all year round. Hope that helps, Nell

  8. I have an orchid that I received when my mom passed away in 2015. It is a phalaenopsis orchid. I had never owned an orchid before then, so when it got done blooming, I cut the stem all the way back to the bottom. It has yet to rebloom! I have fertilized, moved to the basement (we live in Kansas) in the winter months for cooler air and still has not rebloomed. It has grown a new leaf and the leaves are green. It’s in a ceramic orchid pot with bark. I did just watch your video on watering and I’m thinking that I may not have been watering it enough (I had been using 3 ice cubes because I was afraid of overwatering). I just pulled it out of the pot, trimmed off some of the dry roots, put it back in the pot and saturated it with water. Hopefully, I see something soon:) I have it in my living room which is bright, but, not in direct sunlight. Any other ideas? Thanks.

  9. Hi Terry – My orchids bloom on their own. I use a year round orchid fertilizer every other month & keep them in bright natural light. They need light to bloom. I water them every 1-2 weeks depending on the temps. Nell

  10. Hello, my orchids are drying out . What immediate action do i take

  11. Hi Anisha I always let my orchids dry out a bit in between waterings. If they’re severely dry, soak them in a bin or the sink filled with a few inches of water for 30 minutes. Nell

  12. Hello my daughter got a Phalaenopsis Orchid for her birthday. It is starting to out grow it’s very small pot. Do I repot it or leave it? Thanks

  13. I received my orchid for mothers day and i have been keeping in watered with three ice cubes and light in the office. But sadly they are starting to droop what do i do to get them back alive again.

  14. Hi Ranae – If only a few roots are growing out, that’s fine. Phals prefer to grow a bit tight in their pots. If more roots are growing out & getting long, then it’s time. Go up 1 pot size & use a mix formulated specifically for this type of orchid. Nell

  15. Hi Kiesha – I don’t water mine with ice cubes. I have them in bright, natural light. I take them to the sink & water them thoroughly as needed, usually every 7-10 days. Nell

  16. I was handed a Phal three hours ago and I have no idea what to do with it. Help!!!

  17. Hi Yvonne – Enjoy it! This post & video will guide you through as well as this: Nell

  18. My orchids are in a ceramic pot with no drainage. Should I put it in a pot with drainage and what type of bark do I need to use?

  19. Hi Lisa – Because orchids are epiphytes, they need to drain well & aerate. I’d put them in a pot with at least 1 drain hole. They do make orchid pots. If you have phals, small to medium orchid bark is best. All are available on amazon. Nell

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