With flowers that look like butterflies and last for months at a time, Phalaelnopsis, or moth orchids, are gorgeous indoor plants. Keep them happy and you'll have blooms year after year.
Orchids have quite the reputation for being difficult to maintain houseplants - and while they do require special potting mix and specific watering techniques to thrive, some species of orchids are incredibly hardy and easy to grow indoors. In exchange for your efforts and care you will be rewarded with exotic flowers that can rebloom for years to come. To help you in your efforts to become a great orchid grower, we have curated extensive care tips across our blog, but if you don't have time to read through all those right now - here are the essential tips
How Best To Water
Overwatering is the most common cause of death among orchids and the majority of houseplants. If you want to keep an orchid alive, don't just water it on a schedule (e.g. every other day or once a week) instead, pay attention to its needs to find out how much water the plant requires. This will vary depending on the type of potting mix, the humidity, the light, and the air flow.
The simplest answer to when to water your orchid is just before they go completely dry. Depending on a multitude of variants(species, the temperature or humidity) this could be every couple of days or even every few weeks. Your potting mix will also play a big part in water retention, bark tends to go dry a lot quicker than a moss alternative.
You can test the dryness of the potting medium just by putting you finger in an inch or so deep to see how damp it is internally. After a few months you'll develop a sense just by looking or seeing how heavy the pot is as to whether or not your plant needs a little extra water.
The easiest way to water your orchid is to simply take the grow pot out of the ceramic or planter you have it in and run it under the tap letting any excess water drain out the bottom. If your grow pot doesn't have drainage holes you can either look to drill one yourself or use the ice cube method!
For more in-depth tips on watering your orchids click here!
What Potting Mix is Best?
The potting mix you chose for your orchid will play a big role in how often you will need to water and repot your orchid. As previously mentioned moss will tend to soak up water and hold onto it far longer than bark will, however this does make moss a little more unforgiving if you end up overwatering. Bark chips will dry out much quicker and although this may mean watering your orchid more often, it does also mean there is less risk of root rot caused by overwatering. Because of this, bark tends to be the go-to potting medium for Phalaenopsis orchid growers.
Eventually your potting mix will start to breakdown and decompose, this tends to happen a lot quicker with bark. You'll be able to tell when this has started to happen as the water won't drain nearly as fast and there can be a rather unpleasant smell. This is a sure sign that your orchid needs repotting to keep it happy and alive. This only happens every year or two and is a very simple task to complete. We have a whole guide on when and how to repot your orchid right here!
How Much Light Do They Need?
As far as a plant's needs go, houses usually have dim lighting, which means you'll probably be able to grow orchids better if they're tolerant of low lighting conditions. Species such as Phalenopsis orchids are perfect for this as they are very happy with lower light levels. East-facing window sills are perfect for growing orchid plants. A south-facing window might be a tad too bright and hot, but add a sheer curtain and this may be just the right amount of filtering. You can also place the orchid a few feet away from the window so not to have it in constant strong, direct sunlight.
West-faced windows are usually too warm for orchid plants, but with some filtering, you can sometimes make them grow. North-faced windows aren't recommended because they're often too dark for orchids to grow well.
Your orchid definitely doesn't need to be stuck in one spot though! If you want to use your beautiful plant as a centerpiece for your dining table or display it on the mantel for a couple days, there should be no harm in moving it around every now and again. Just be sure to move it back to its optimal spot as soon as you're done displaying it.
Do They Need a Humid Environment?
Humidity is the percentage of water vapour in the air and humidity is often far higher in tropical environments. With orchids being tropical plants it would make sense that they would thrive far better in humid areas - it's all about breathing.
All plants have stomata (pores) on their leaf surfaces through which they absorb carbon dioxide and expel oxygen. When orchids open their stomata to breathe they lose water. High humidity helps plants compensate for the water they lose by opening their stomata (pores). Most orchids prefer humid conditions ranging between 40% and 70% however this isn't often viable in a British home so we recommend a small misting daily or making a "humidity tray"
How To Fertilise
It is recommended to fertilise with a quarter-strength, water-soluble fertiliser every time you water your orchid. It means using just 1/4 of the recommended dose, and mixing it with water. It's far better to under-fertilise than to over do it so you can always skip the occasional fertilisation. We also advise ensuring the potting mix is slightly moist before adding fertiliser to avoid burning the orchids sensitive roots.
Lastly and most importantly - Be Patient! - Your orchid will require more care than the average house plant but the blooms you can see repeatedly for years to come will always be worth the effort.