Pink and lemon phalaenopsis blooms

How to grow moth orchids (phalenopsis)

All you need to know about growing beautiful moth orchids, in our detailed Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Plant
Plant

Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do Plant in April

Do Plant in May

Do Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do not Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Flowers
Flowers

Plant does flower in January

Plant does flower in February

Plant does flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does not flower in May

Plant does flower in June

Plant does not flower in July

Plant does not flower in August

Plant does flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does flower in December

Moth orchid, Phalaenopsis, is one of the most widely available species of orchids. They make excellent house plants with long-lasting, arching flower spikes. Moth orchids can flower up to three times a year in the right conditions. There are many different types of moth orchid, growing to different sizes with flower colours ranging from white through to pink with striped, spotted, and mottled patterning.

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How to grow moth orchids

Grow moth orchids in orchid compost in a clear plastic pot. Keep them at a minimum temperature of 15ºC. Water once a week with rainwater.

More on growing orchids:


Where to plant moth orchids

Bright-pink flowers of a moth orchid growing in a bathroom
Bright-pink flowers of a moth orchid growing in a bathroom

Moth orchids do best with a minimum temperature of 15-20°C. Orchids generally don’t like direct sunlight, so choose a good spot near an east or north-facing window, in the more humid atmosphere of a kitchen or bathroom. Avoid dry, warm places such as on top of a radiator where they’ll dry out.


How to plant moth orchids

Moth orchid grown in a clear plastic pot
Moth orchid grown in a clear plastic pot

Use small containers, so the plants remain quite tight – clear plastic pots work well and allow the green roots to photosynthesise. Use a light, free-draining, open compost containing pumice or charcoal (specialist orchid composts are available). It’s quite natural for the roots to come out of their pot, but be careful not to snap them off when repotting.


How to care for moth orchids

Repotting a moth orchid
Repotting a moth orchid

Moth orchids are epiphytic plants meaning that in the wild they grow on the surface of other plants, rather than in the soil. So while they need humidity, they don’t do well when overwatered.

Water once every week or two, with rainwater if possible, or boiled and cooled tap water. Use either specialist orchid fertiliser or a dilution of other house plant food every couple of weeks.

After flowering, cut back the flower spike to just above the first node. Your moth orchid should produce a new flower spike from this point.

You can repot your moth orchid after flowering, but this isn’t essential. However, always wait until flowering has finished, as disturbing the roots will cause the plants to drop flowers.

Watch Alan’s tips on how to care for moth orchids:


How to propagate moth orchids

Occasionally plants may produce plantlets called keikis. Look out for flower buds that start to develop roots – they can be cut off the mother plant and potted up. It may take a few years for the new plant to flower.


Growing moth orchids: problem solving

Mealy bugs on a houseplant leaf
Mealy bugs on a house plant leaf

Orchids will generally remain pest-free when grown as house plants, though they can be attacked by mealybugs. Moth orchids are shade-loving plants and will suffer in direct sunlight, which will cause leaves to turn yellowish.


Moth orchid varieties to grow

White and golden moth orchid flowers
White and golden moth orchid flowers
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  • Phalaenopsis ‘White Wild Orchid’ – produces a profusion of white flowers over a long period of time
  • Phalaenopsis grandiflorum ‘Ravello’ – sends up two stems of palest pink flowers with strong carmine veining
  • Phalaenopsis ‘Rio Grande’ – produces delicate arching stems with beautiful purple pink flowers
  • Phalaenopsis grandiflorum  ‘Alassio’ – the flowers are a delicate lime-white shade, tinged with pale green
  • Phalaenopsis ‘Little Star Wild’ – small flowers in palest pink, produced prolifically over a long period of time