Phalaenopsis comprises about 70 species that are mostly epiphytes growing around forest edges, where they are protected from direct sunshine by the foliage of trees. Their distribution stretches from India via the Malayan Peninsula and Indonesia to Northern Australia and the Philippines.
Blooming Time: Spring-Autumn.
Culture: Phalaenopsis species are found in the Asiatic tropics at altitudes of 200-400 m only, and therefore require constant warm conditions and permanently moist air. Sufficient air circulation is also desirable. As their leaves are their sole means of storing nutrients, they must never dry out, although the compost must be sufficiently porous, so as to avoid stagnant conditions. When watering, care should be taken so that no water remains on the apex of the growths, otherwise new growth might rot, resulting in the death of the entire plant. During the summer growth period regular watering is required, with frequent syringing so that humidity is increased. During the rest period in winter watering should be reduced. The plant should be protected from direct sunlight to avoid leaf scorch. Moth orchids can be planted in pots or baskets with good drainage or even cork bark. The most suitable compost is Osmunda or tree-fern fibre that can be enriched sphagnum moss. Most growers of moth orchids prefer to add bark to this compost to increase drainage. Repotting becomes necessary every few years. Care must be taken so that the base of the plant remains exposed so that the leaves do not rot and new root can grow more freely.
Propagation: Phalaenopsis forms young plants on the thickening flower spikes which can be removed and potted.
Phalaenopsis sp. was featured as Plant of the Week January 15-21, 1999.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
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