Phalaenopsis cultivars


Moth Orchid

Closely related to Vanda, there are approximately 55 species plus thousands of named hybrids of Phalaenopsis.

The group includes both epiphytes or lithophytes. Stems are short and they do NOT have pseudobulbs. Leaves are fleshy and 2-ranked. They rarely have petioles, and can sometimes be bract like and deciduous. Colour and size of flower can be variable according to variety. The lip is 3-lobed, and usually smaller and more brightly coloured than other parts of the flower.


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In winter, only water plants in early in the morning (maybe every 3-5 days), don't allow the crown of the plant to be moist overnight - this can encourage rot. Never water plants on cold or overcast days in winter.

These orchids require a relatively constant environment all year round, with temperatures never below 18 and rarely above 30oC. They require up to 90% shade over summer in warmer parts of Australia if temperatures ever go above 30oC. In winter reduce the sun protection to 70% shade. Young tender leaves in particular need shading. In mild or cool climates, greenhouse grown Phalaenopsis need 70 80% shade in sunny weather (ie, they need twice the shade of Cattleyas!)

 The plants are commonly grown on weathered pieces of wood, cork or fern slabs, in hanging baskets or in shallow pots filled with a very open chunky mix of bark and charcoal. Potting up or mounting  the plants should always be finished before summer. Avoid pots that are too large as this can deter good root growth.

Decaying vegetation (e.g. small amounts of leaf mould) are the best thing to feed Phalaenopsis with. Weak solutions of fish emulsion or seaweed fertilizer are also useful. Never apply fertilizer to dry plants; always water them thoroughly, then apply fertilizer. Over autumn use a low nitrogen, high potash fertilizers. Water quality significantly affects the plant performance. Alkaline or saline water will slow  down the growth. Pure clean rainwater is best if you care to collect it.


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Both hybrids and species are grown widely. There are more than 40,000 named hybrid Phalaenopsis, often grouped according to colour:
i.e. White hybrids, Pinks, Candy stripes, Yellows, Semi-albas, Sandy pinks or Novelties.

Plant Health

Aphis, mealy bug, scale, mites and fungal diseases are the most likely problems. Routine sprays of fungicide are often necessary for preventing fungal spread, particularly if growing plants outside in the tropics.

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