|Scientific Name : Phalaenopsis amabilis|
|Family : Orchidaceae|
|Colour : white, pink, lavender, yellow|
|Common names : Moth Orchid|
Phalaenopsis or Moth orchid is the most popular orchids which are excellent for beginners. Phalaenopsis orchids are pest free, require little maintenance, and thrive in the low light conditions of the modern home. There are about 50 species in this genera with flowers of various shapes and colors. This warm growing species demand plenty of heat and moisture. Moth orchids like bright but indirect sunlight. The ideal temperature is about 60 degrees at night and between 75 to 80 degrees during the day. They should be watered thoroughly and not watered again until the media is nearly dry. The medium should never be allowed to dry out completely. Never let water touch the flowers or stand in the centerfolds of the leaves as doing so may cause rot.
Phalaenopsis plants are very easy to grow and have beautiful flowers of vivid colours including white, pink, lavender and yellow. The blooms open along a long flower spike that is sometimes two feet in length. They do not have a smell and may produce up to 15 or more flowers per spike. The flowers measure up to four inches, are long lasting with individual blooms, may remain open for six weeks or longer. The long arching sprays of flowers are thought to resemble a flight of pale moths in moonlight earning the plant the common name of Moth Orchid. The most popular colors are the soft whites with yellow or red lips, and the glowing pinks and blushes. The other shades of this orchid are deep red, vibrant orange and spotted and striped.
Potting of Phalaenopsis is done in late spring or early summer after blooming has completed. The plants must be potted in quick draining mixes, such as fir bark, tree fern fiber, chunky sphagnum peat, charcoal, perlite or combinations of these. Root rot will occur if plants are allowed to sit in an old, soggy medium. Young plants should grow fast enough to need repotting yearly and should be potted in a finer grade medium to allow good root contact. Mature plants are potted in a coarser medium may stay in the same pots for years, provided that medium is changed when needed.To repot, remove all old medium from the roots, trim off rotted roots, and spread the remaining roots over a handful of medium in a pot. Fill the rest of the pot with medium, working through the roots, so that the junction of the upper roots and the stem is slightly below the medium. Be careful not to leave large air pockets in pots. Use a stick to push the medium in between the roots. Keep plants in shade and wait for one to three days before watering.
To extend the blooming season, count out 3 nodes (only the fleshy green nodes) from the base of the spike and cut the spike one inch above the third node. If the plant is healthy and it's not too late in the blooming season, this process will wake up one or two of the nodes and it may produce a new spray of fresh blooms. Frequently when a spike is cut, a secondary spike will develop on the old stalk below the original flower head, thus extending the blooming season.
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