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About Phalaenopsis Orchids (Moth Orchids)

Moth Orchids (phalaenopsis hybrids) are highly recommended for the "budding" orchid enthusiast. While their needs are specific, the requirements are relatively easy to meet. Like all orchids, they require bright filtered daylight, but not ever direct sunlight. They do well being placed in a sunny corner with curtains drawn or shaded during the time the sun comes through the window. Otherwise, there's little to no restriction on their exposure to outdoor light.

A consistent minimum temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit is required which makes them very comfortable in most home atmospheres. They also benefit from high humidity which can be achieved with daily light misting of their leaves. Place low ceramic bowls of water in close proximity to the plants to infuse moisture by evaporation into the air around them. (Another trick for humidifying the air is to keep water in smaller decorative ceramic vases. That way, you can do double-duty with the humidifiers by using the containers to root cuttings of other plants that start in water - like philodendroms and jade plants.)

Phalaenopsis are favorites of professional orchids growers as well. This stunning blossom (above right) is a hybrid with 20-25 flowers on a single stem. These are the results of several years of devotion to orchids - definitely more than a passing fancy! This orchid was actually produced from seed which is a very complicated process. Only professional breeders take on this project as the easiest and most common method of propagation is by cuttings.

When Moth Orchids send up their bloom stem, they often stretch out and curl towards the light. This habit puts a strain on the main plant because the bloom stem with the buds and flowers can be quite a weight and unbalance the plant. In home environments, it's difficult to get the stems to grow straight up. I managed to encourage a good share of this stem to go up the stake. But as the buds developed, I risked damaging the new flowers.

The green tape you see here fastening the orchid stem to the support stick is actually a florist's variety of Velcro. You buy it in garden departments or nurseries on a roll. Just measure off enough to comfortably circle the stem and the stick, then snip the tape and carefully wrap it around the stem, gently pulling it towards the stick. Be careful not to break the stem. As the stem continues to grow, slide the Velcro up until the buds grow larger.

Phalaenopsis orchids are from the "Epiphytic" family, which means in their natural environment, they cling to trees, rocks, orchid air rootsbranches, etc., securing themselves with air roots. The orchids have a minor system of smaller roots under the plant that search for nutrients and moisture, and the air roots help with that by absorbing nutrients from the atmosphere. The air roots also help to secure the plant by creeping over and around the terrain and anchoring to bark, rocks or whatever lies ahead.

You can see this plant is growing a healthy set of air roots and, even though they may seem unattractive, they are necessary for the growth and well-being of the plant. You want your orchid to produce as many air roots as possible because it means the plant is happy!