The genus Phalaenopsis boasts plants almost as beautiful as their flowers; they have smooth, shiny, large leaves, emanating from the central crown, and they lack pseudobulbs.
Called by the florists 'butterfly orchids,' in their home they are more nearly correctly known as 'moth orchids,' gleaming white and moth-like in the dark of night.
In recent years they have often replaced lilies of the valley for bridal bouquets because of the purity of their white spray-like flowers.
Heavy strap-like roots go forth searching for moisture and, owing to their habit of roving and clinging to foreign objects, constitute a considerable problem in repotting. Erect woody stems bear flowers prolifically until the weight causes them to curve gracefully.
The structure of the moth orchid is exquisite, the dorsal sepal rounded, shaping to a point at the top; the side petals broad and sweeping; the two lower sepals, narrower and sometimes overlapping, forming a background for the remarkable lip, crested with yellow.
Red lines in the throat seem to signal the way to the hybridizing insects, and the fore lobes of the lip are frequently elongated into curling tendrils. An intermediate house will serve though the moth orchid prefers warmer conditions.
Moth orchid care is delicate. When it comes to moth orchid care, they can be grown in pots or baskets. Oncidiums and Wanda coerulea thrive on rafts of bark or blocks of wood. Potting material may be tied firmly around the base of the plant and container with wire, allowing the air-loving roots to wander at will.
The moth orchid, while differing from Vanda in that it is stemless, is also of monopodial growth and not divisible. It will occasionally throw adventitious plants from the nodes of the flower stem.
Experiments have shown that it is possible, by wrapping the flower node in damp Osmunda and keeping it warm and damp, to force the growth of a new plant.
The moth orchid is also pseudobulb-less, and, if properly nourished, will bloom constantly and never rest. When the potting material is Osmunda, this tendency to excessive activity must be curbed or the plant will bloom itself to death.
Buds can be pinched off unless at least one pair of the firm, leathery leaves have been formed since the last flowering.
Old flower stems may break into bloom anew, which weakens the plant and should be discouraged by cutting stems close to the plant. The plant should be kept well watered, but the roots should not be allowed to become soggy from lack of air.
The moth orchid, although monopodial, is stemless, but yearly grows a pair of leaves from the characteristic crown. The leaves of monopodial orchids are heavy, leathery, fleshy, and capable of storing some quantity of moisture, but the plants must never be allowed to dry out completely.
When it comes to moth orchid care, the temperature should be kept at 68? making it suitable for the moth orchid.
Moth orchid care can give trouble to some growers. When potting, the plants should be well centered in the pot or basket. Medium should be well packed but not so firmly as for Cattleyas.
Compost should come well up around the base of the plant, since Phalaenopsis has a tendency to force the constantly forming crowns up from the medium. There should be very good drainage.
The moth orchids are heavy feeders and will usually exhaust the medium in two years, after which they should be repotted. This orchid has strap-like roots that wander out of the container and become fastened to it, the bench, or adjacent pots.
These roots must be severed in repotting, and the plant is inevitably set back. The intense interest in gravel culture, which is spectacularly successful with the moth orchid, is partly a result of this difficulty in repotting.
A few moth orchid care tips to help you.