Phalaenopsis Orchids | Moth Orchids
You may think you have never heard of phalaenopsis orchids but I can assure you if you have any interest in plants or gardening you will have seen them. Often called Phal orchids or Moth orchids (their petals are said to resemble the wings of a moth) they are probably the most published orchids – Phalaenopsis orchids are everywhere – in fancy restaurants, posh cafes, magazine and book covers, etc. If you have seen a delicate, single-stemmed orchid in a photograph, then you have almost certainly met a phalaenopsis orchid.
For many the Moth Orchid is probably their first attempt at caring for orchids. They are also the most popular orchid to give as a gift for gardeners as they are readily available and relatively easy to care for. They are truly spectacular to look at and few can help but be drawn to them. There are a wide range of different varieties of Phalaenopsis orchids from different regions of the world however their native region is Asia, specifically in the tropical archipelagic islands such as Java, in Indonesia.
Over sixty phalaenopsis orchid species have been identified – and more are being discovered every year. Because of their beauty and the fact that they can be hybridized very easily, expert growers and amateur enthusiasts have created literally thousands of hybrid variants from the original sixty species. They have done this in order to improve the color selection and morphology of the species. For example, professional orchid growers have created hybrids with miniature flowers in a variety of colors – not just one or two colors. This is the power of cross-pollination and careful selection for breeding. Plant breeding in general has become a major business generating huge sums of money. Orchid breeding can also be very lucrative as growers rush to have the latest hybrids.
Growing Phalaenopsis Orchids
Phalaenopsis orchids, unlike the oncidium species don’t like being exposed to direct sunlight. While oncidium orchids tend to thrive and bloom beautifully when in bright sunlight and heat, phalaenopsis species will suffer and possibly die if exposed to a location that has a constant source of direct sunlight with no shade. With this in mind growers generally recommend that phalaenopsis orchids are placed close to east facing windows, or anywhere that the suns rays do not directly reach. If your orchids are in direct sunlight, make sure that you create some shading to prevent the orchids from being scorched.
These orchids are usually suitable for growing under artificial grow lights as they tolerate lower light levels well. This can be useful for some of the more extreme parts of the world who wish to grow orchids at home.
How can you tell if your phalaenopsis orchids are doing well under your care? The tale can be told in the leaves. Strong and healthy phal orchids have really dark green leaves. The underside of the leaves should usually have reddish streaks – but strong dark leaves are a good sign.
There is so much to learn about these fascinating plants – they are true beauties of the plant world. Check out my post covering a good range of orchid books if you are keen to learn a lot more about phalaenopsis orchids.