How to Care for Moth Orchids (Phalaenopsis)

Information about moth orchids and how to care for them.

Related Video: How to re-pot a moth orchid

Related Video: How to water phalaenopsis orchids


One of the most popular and easiest orchids to look after is the Phalaenopsis (pronounced fal-en-OPP-siss) otherwise known as the Moth Orchid (another popular orchid for beginners is the Dendrobium). They get their name from the beautiful blooms they produce that look very much like a moth in flight (as you can see from the picture).

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Phalaenopsis orchids (or 'Phals' as they are known in the trade) originate in South-East Asia and Northern Australia and the genus consists of around 60 species (not including hybrids). Most are epiphytic (they attach themselves to other plants), however a few are lithophytic (they attach themselves to rocks).

The differ from most other orchids because the are monopodial. This means they have a single stem and a single growth of large fleshy blooms.

They are a good choice for amateur orchid growers because they are relatively easy to grow and bloom in a home environment, compared to other orchid genera.

The information below describes how to care for moth orchids and the optimum conditions for the Phalaenopsis to bloom in the home.

Phalaenopsis or Moth Orchid

Low to medium light is adequate for this genus. An east-facing window is ideal, with Western or Southern facing windows okay as long as they are shaded to prevent sunburn. If your moth orchid is getting the correct amount of light, the foliage will be bright green. Deep green leaves indicate that your orchid is not receiving enough light. Yellowish leaves indicate it is absorbing too much.


Phalaenopsis orchids do just fine at normal indoor temperatures in the home. Ideally, you'll be looking at between 70 degrees and 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the day and 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit at night.


Moth Orchids like a lot of moisture in the air around them, so a 50% humidity level is minimum with a higher percentage being preferred. As most homes have a lower humidity, increasing the moisture around your plant is a necessity. This can be done by placing a tray of gravel/small stones and water below your plant. As it evaporates, the air around your orchid will become more humid. Alternatively (or additionally), you can mist your orchid with a spray gun. Ensure there are no droplets left on the leaves or crown by night-time to prevent rot.


Water your phalaenopsis orchid early in the morning, so that the roots have dried by the evening. Your watering schedule will be around once a week, adjusting for the time of year; more during the Summer and less during the Winter. If the potting media is dry or very nearly dry, then that is the time to water. If it is slightly damp, then leave it until tomorrow. The water should, ideally, be tepid rainwater as tapwater is treated with chemicals that may be toxic to your plant.

When to feed moth orchids is a question that asked quite often. You will want to add a weak quarter strength soluble orchid fertilizer to your water four out of every five weeks to ensure that your phalaenopsis is getting all the nutrients it needs to grow and bloom. As an alternative to ready-mixed fertilizer from your local garden store, you can also make your own organic fertilizer.


Now you know the basics of how to look after your moth orchid. Of course, nothing we say here should be a substitute for your own intuition. Every phalaenopsis is different, so if you feel something is not working change it. Part of the enjoyment of growing orchids and any other plants is learning by trial and error. Hopefully, this article will form a solid foundation for your hobby.

Good luck & have fun.