Moth Orchid Guide: How to Care for Your Phalaenopsis Plant - Backyard Boss
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Moth Orchid Guide: How to Care for Your Phalaenopsis Plant

Sometimes, the plants that are the most difficult to care for are the most beautiful. Although the Phalaenopsis orchid isn’t easy to care for, it is one of the easiest orchids to grow. Also known as the moth orchid, it’s also one of the most rewarding plants to grow. Find out everything you need to know about how to grow a Phalaenopsis orchid and you can start growing your own plant. It’s the perfect intro into orchid care.

Moth Orchid Details

Phalaenopsis Blume
Ease of Care: Moderate
Light: Low light
Water: Every other week
Temperature: 75 to 85 degrees during the day, 60 to 65 at night
Height: About one foot tall
Growth Rate: One to three new leaves per year
Pests: Spider mites, scale insects, thrips, and mealybugs
Disease: Spot blotch and brown spot
Toxicity: Safe for humans and animals

Benefits of Phalaenopsis Orchids

If you decide to grow your own moth orchid, your efforts won’t be for nothing. Your plant will do all of the following:

Improve Your Air Quality

Bright pink Phalaenopsis Orchid outdoors

As your orchid collects carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, it releases oxygen. This process is a natural way of improving air quality. Although orchids aren’t as effective as improving air quality as some other indoor plants, they do make a difference. The more orchids in your home, the better your air will be.

Relieve Your Stress

When you have a flowering plant in your home or office, your stress levels drop. The plant makes your space more tranquil, which keeps you calm and relaxed.

According to one study, taking a three minute break at work to water and look at a plant decreased pulse rates and anxiety. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, simply look at your orchid and take a deep breath.

Increase Humidity

If your environment has low humidity, you could experience seasonal allergies. Your sore throat or cough may be helped by higher humidity. Because orchids increase indoor humidity levels, they can improve your seasonal ailments.

Do No Harm

If you have animals in your home, you probably fear for their safety. There are many household plants that could make cats and dogs sick. Fortunately, moth orchids are not poisonous to cats or dogs. They’re also non-toxic to people.

Add Style

You don’t need to remodel your home or buy costly accessories to add style to your home. If you want to make a difference, add a Phalaenopsis orchid to your living room. Even when it’s not in bloom, the plant will be a stylish addition.

Care of the Moth Orchid

Although some people are intimidated by orchid care, you don’t need to have any fear. In fact, moth orchids are easier to care for than other orchids.

When you first get the orchid, you need to pot it and position it. For the best results, use bark or moss from your favorite online retailer or local plant nursery. Some stores sell mixes specifically made for orchids, but they usually contain either bark or moss.

indoor moth orchid phalaenopsis needs light on regular schedules neat windowYou also need to consider the placement of your orchid. One of the most important details regarding how to grow a Phalaenopsis orchid is the sunlight requirement. These orchids are low light orchids, so they do best in east facing windows. If you place them in a window with more sunlight, make sure the window has a sheer curtain.

Too much or too little light will impact your plant’s growth. It might not grow as quickly as it should, or it may not bloom. If your orchid’s leaves aren’t olive green, it’s time to move the plant to an area with more or less sunlight. Keep in mind that it can take some trial and error to find the right spot. Additionally, the lighting is different in the winter.

Watering Your Orchid

The watering needs of your Phalaenopsis depend on the potting medium. If you use bark as a medium, it won’t retain much water. As a result, you need to water it somewhat frequently. Once a week, give it some water.

Moss holds water well, and allows you to wait longer between waterings. Feel the moss and water your plant when the top layer of moss seems dry. Typically, this is once every 10 days.

Depending on the amount of light your plant receives, you may need to adjust your watering schedule. The season could also affect the amount of water your orchid needs. In the summer, you may need to water it more frequently.

phalaenopsis orchid soil repotting removing old medium

Fertilizer and Soil Needs

You can fertilize your orchid once a week. Typically, any well-balanced fertilizer will work. Weaken the fertilizer before you use it, or you should limit your fertilizing to once a month.

When you properly fertilize your orchid, it should have no problem blooming. Just keep in mind that it takes time for the plant to flower.

Orchids perform best in a growth medium developed for their particular needs. Their roots tend to climb and expand rather than crawl downward, so a loose mix with textural variety is key.

    Perfect Plants Orchid Potting Mix

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    Blended with all-natural ingredients that encourage orchid roots to climb and expand. Charcoal, Sponge Rock, Pine Bark, and Coconut Chips provide a well-balanced environment for roots to grow to their full potential while absorbing maximum nutrients. Orchid roots also need access to water for when they go dry. Perfect Plants Orchid Mix is professionally blended to balance overall drainage while still giving roots access to moisture.

Humidity Requirements

In addition to watering your orchid, you also need to keep it humid. To ensure that your plant has the proper humidity level, mist it occasionally. Taking a spray bottle filled with tap water, generously spray your plant.

If you don’t want to mist your orchid, use a shallow tray and fill it with water and pebbles. Keep your orchid near the tray. Doing this increases the humidity of your room and keeps your plant happy.

Propagation and Growth Rate

If you want to make new orchids from your existing collection, you can do so easily. Your plant will produce babies, known as keikis. The keikis appear on the nodes along your plan’s stems. When a keiki had roots that are about three inches long and two leaves, it’s ready for you. Take a knife and cut the tissue between the stem and the keiki.

Then, spread out the roots of the keiki and place them in a pot with soil. Using a mister bottle, mist your plant. Repeat the process every day and maintain a comfortable temperature in your home.

Varieties of Phalaenopsis Orchids

There are about 75 species of orchids in the Phalaenopsis genus, 12 of which are common in households. Some are much harder to find than others, than others, but all are beautiful specimens.

When choosing a variety, consider the appearance, care, and availability of the plant. They come in a variety of colors, from white orchids to multicolored through truly bold primary and soft pastel hues.

Petite Moth Orchids

Smaller cultivars are quite common in garden and plant shops. The small size lends itself to more flexible locations, as orchids can grow quite tall despite their narrow foliage and lean lines. These smaller varieties come in many colors, as do all cultivars, but we love these custom potted petite white orchids.

    Petite White Orchid in Custom Planter

Buy at
    Often called the beginner orchid or ‘moth orchid’, the popular Phalaenopsis orchid is one of the easiest varieties of orchids to grow as a houseplant. Total height including planter measures around 14 tall.

Phalaenopsis appendiculata

This variety is relatively new to cultivation. As a dwarf species, it’s small in size. It has flowers with a unique splotchy pattern.

Phalaenopsis appendiculata dwarf moth orchid variety

Phalaenopsis equestris

If you want a bright orchid, you should consider the Phalaenopsis equestris. It has a bold purple color that attracts the eye.

    Purple Orchid in Custom Planter

Buy at
    Thrives in bright indirect light, but can tolerate medium indirect light. Avoid direct sun. Pet-friendly and easy-care. Total height including planter measures around 18 tall.

Phalaenopsis pulcherrima

This variety is also purple, but has a much different appearance than the equestris.

phalaenopsis orchid varieties

Phalaenopsis bellina

This variety is known for its unique pleasant fragrance. Native to Malaysia and Borneo, this plant has an exotic look.


As you care for your orchid, you’re likely to encounter some challenges. Learning how to grow a Phalaenopsis orchid means also knowing how to overcome those challenges.

paradise moth orchid yellow and magenta

How Much Should I Water My Phalaenopsis?

You should water your orchid enough to keep the soil moist, but not too wet. The frequency of watering depends on the amount of sunlight it receives, the temperature of your home, and the type of medium in the pot.

At first, it might take some time to come up with a watering schedule. However, you will soon be able to know when your plant needs water. Typically, you can tell if a plant needs water by its weight. You’ll learn how heavy it feels when it has enough water.

What Type of Water Should I Use?

Although some plants require distilled water, phalaenopsis does not. You should only use tepid tap water to water it. If you see minerals start to build up on your orchid, you may want to rinse them off with water.

Why Are My Orchid’s Leaves Dark?

Typically, a moth orchid should have olive green leaves. If the leaves are get dark, the plant may not be receiving enough light. Try moving your plant to a window that receives more direct light.

Why Are the Leaves Reddish?

When leaves develop a reddish tinge, they have too much exposure to light. Move it to an area that has less light. In a short time, you should notice a change in the color of the leaves.

What Should I Do After My Phalaenopsis Blooms?

white moth orchids growing near window indoors

Your orchid’s flower won’t last forever. After the plant blooms, you can do one of three things. You can leave the stem, cut the stem back to a more, or remove the stem.

After your plant blooms, think about repotting it. Over time, potting mix breaks down. You should report your plant if you notice dead roots or if you think the plant is too big for the container.

If you want your moth orchid to bloom again, you just need to care for it. Give it fertilizer, light, and water. Over time, it should rebloom from the same spike.

Where to Buy a Healthy Plant

As one of the most popular orchids, the moth orchid is widely available. You can find it online or at your local plant nursery. However, some of the less common varieties of Phalaenopsis may be harder to find.


Orchids can seem daunting, and some are! But not the Phalaenopsis or moth orchids, These beauties can bring time-tested elegance and a pop of color to your home, and for little more upkeep than a standard spider plant or pothos. We hope this guide has helped you understand how to care for your future moth orchid garden!

If you would like us to write a guide for another plant, product or tutorial, let us know in the comments. Happy indoor gardening!