Top tips for growing a moth orchid

The Phalaenopsis orchid in the home.
The Phalaenopsis orchid in the home.

INDOOR plants are all the rage right now and nothing adds colour or beauty to your bathroom, bedroom or office quite like an orchid.

Whether receiving one as a present – or giving one to yourself – you’ll want to keep these beauties happy and healthy for as long as possible.

We spoke to The Orchid Society Of WA about caring for the phalaenopsis or moth orchid, the most common of the species.

Growing orchids indoors

Choose a well ventilated spot away from heaters and not directly on windowsills, where the sun can cause sunburn in summer and the glass will conduct cold in winter.

Add water when the pot feels a little lighter – about every day in summer and once a week in winter. This is just a guide; if you feel inside your pot it should be moist, not wet. Always water in the morning so the plant has time to dry off during the day. If the plant is still wet in the crown (centre) after a couple of hours, dry it out carefully with a tissue or cotton buds as it could develop crown rot.

On hot days, mist the leaves with water several times day.

Fertilise every week with a balanced product. A good idea is to use a soluble fertiliser and water it in.

Your phalaenopsis will look great in a decorative outer pot, but make sure that there are drain holes in it and lift your plant pot off the floor of the decorative pot just a little.

Making your pebble dish more interesting with small ferns and other low-light complementary plants will assist all of them to grow happily in a friendly eco environment.

Growing orchids outdoors

It is possible to grow it outdoors for several months of the year during summer, when the flower spike has been removed, and up to May when the next season’s spike should be forming. It should then be grown indoors to protect it from the cold weather, unless you have an outside hothouse, with an absolute minimum temperature of 15C.

In summer, it is important to provide shade and a cool atmosphere for the plant, so put it in your fern house if you have one, or with your other orchids, down low in the shade house (not on the ground) for maximum shade and cooling. These plants grow in the understorey of the tropical rainforest where it is cool and shady.

In summer you will need to water it often, early in the day, making sure that the crown has dried, and misting frequently is beneficial just as if you were growing it inside your house.

Most importantly, you must keep your plant out of direct sunlight.