White Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis amabilis)

Common names:
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General Plant Information (Edit)
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Partial or Dappled Shade
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 11 +4.4 °C (40 °F) to +7.2 °C (50 °F)
Leaves: Evergreen
Fruiting Time: Fall
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: White
Flower Time: Late winter or early spring
Late fall or early winter
Awards and Recognitions: Texas Superstar®
Other: Flower of Charm (Puspa Pesona) of Indonesia


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Posted by plantladylin (Florida Zone 9b, 10a) on Sep 29, 2011 1:34 PM

Phalaenopsis or "Moth Orchid" prefers warmth and good humidity, preferably above 50%. An eastern light exposure is preferred. Direct sun will scorch the foliage, so if it is grown on a window sill, a sheer curtain should be used to deflect sunlight. Water well using rainwater, RO (reverse osmosis) water, or purified water and let dry between waterings.

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Posted by Turbosaurus (NYC suburbs - Zone 6b) on Oct 6, 2018 6:39 PM

I live just outside NYC where my Orchids go outside in the summer and come in for the winter-
This is what works in my neck of the woods that is different from AOS guidelines:

Indoors. Lt me first say that there is not a single place indoors in my home that provides enough light to make a phal happy hear round. Direct light in a south facing window is ideal. A north facing window at this latitude will be insufficient 100% of the time. They do not need a curtain to shield them. It is likely that in areas further south that get hotter sun for longer periods it is a good idea to limit the amount of sun. However, I personally guarantee that up against your brightest window from October to May this far north will barely keep your phal alive. I strongly suggest taking advantage of summer sun outdoors.

Temperatures- My phals, when kept indoors NEVER sent up a new spike- not in 6 years. Not one. They might send up a branch spike from a lower node on an existing inflorescence around the same time the blooms dropped, but NEVER sent up a new spike. the minute they stayed outside when night temps got in the 60-50s EVERY SINGLE ONE bloomed every single year. A temperature differential of 10-15 degrees between night and day, and a low in the mid 60-50s has ALWAYS triggered blooming for me. Some of them will start a spike with night temps around 70 if the differential is 15*, but 2 weeks in low 60s ALL of them bloom. Late May through September are ideal times to place your phanenopsis outside. Mine stay outside for the entire season and come in only when we expect the first night to go below 50.

Outside: just like your skin can get sunburned, so will the leaves of your phal. They will be more sensitive/likely to burn in spring- just like your own pasty winter skin, lol. Gradually accustom your plant to brighter and brighter light- a 'base tan' if you will. I have moved them GRADUALLY between mother's day and summer solstice from indoors all winter to full sun all day in a west yard and was rewarded by big fat leaves, 3-4 per year and multiple inflorsescence in the fall. Early morning sun is not as likely to burn as late day sun. Sun from dawn to noon is MUCH less likely to burn than 1pm-6pm. South east exposures are ideal. Be careful- becasue if a leaf gets sunburn, you will have a black brown dead spot that will not ever recover - that damage is permanent and for aesthetics the leaf will eventually have to be removed. I take off damaged leaves only when they come back inside for the winter

Watering- All my phals are in bark, in plastic orchid pots with side splits. From May to October, they get watered with the annuals, sometimes daily, with the hose. When they come inside- it gets more complex becasue the plain plastic pots go inside decorative pots that reduce air flow.
AOS says reduce watering in the winter to once every 2-3 weeks. I have found this is a guaranteed way to induce bloom drop 100% of the time and the pant may not survive the under watering. In the NE, when your heat kicks on, the interior humidity will drop to well under 25%. You must water every 4-5 days, INSURING COMPLETE DRAINAGE in between waterings. That's nearly 4x as often as the AOS recommends. I never water from the top. I use a bucket with 5-6" of water, and drop the orchid pot inside and I let it soak for at least 1 hour, up to 12. grab a couple egg sized rocks to weigh it down becasue bark is wood- so it floats. Water level s/b below the rim of the pot to not make a mess w/floating bark. I just keep the "orchid bucket" in the mudroom. With 10 orchids, I alternate- there's almost always a plant in the water bucket from Columbus day to labor day.

Your mileage may vary, but this is what works for me in southern NY, 3 miles from the Atlantic ocean.

I wanted to share becasue my successful attempts are SO different than some very expert (for good reason) guidelines. I killed a lot of orchids following those guidelines to the letter. You SHOULD start there... but I want to give beginners that are well informed the confidence to believe what their eyes tell them- and if that means your location/conditions/temperature/humidity requires you to deviate- then trust your eyes. THIS IS NOT PERMISSION TO FREE-FOR-ALL your orchid care! but it is advice to get informed then think about how YOUR location or your home varies from some nebulous geographic English speaking average condition guideline- in temperature, daylight hours, humidity, sun strength, day/night differentials, pot characteristics and other variables I may have forgotten.

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