Would you believe I have beautiful exotic MOTHS in my greenhouse? They gently "fly" back and forth in the soft current of air. At times, there are over twenty of them huddled together in a row forming a long sweeping arch.
I can hear the whispers already, "The Orchid Lady has gone off the deep end. Allowing moths in the greenhouse? That would lead to unwanted pollination of her blooms!" Before someone starts calling the men in white coats however, let me tell you that these are not the moths you find visiting your flowers in your garden.
My moths don't eat the other plants and they do not pollinate the blooms that are in full splendor just waiting for an insect to visit them. In fact, these moths are not even insects at all!
They are the graceful blooms of the "Moth Orchids," the Phalaenopsis
How did this orchid get a nickname of an insect? The name Phalaenopsis
comes from the Greek word phalaina
, meaning "moth" and opsis
The name refers to the moth-like shape of the blooms. I must admit that my Moth orchids are one of my most favorite flowers that adorn my greenhouse.
The blooms open along a long flower spike that is sometimes two feet in length. The flowers open only a few each day until the flower spike is covered with the moth-shaped flowers.
The most popular colors are the soft whites with yellow or red lips, and the glowing pinks and blushes. With new hybridising, you can now buy moth orchids that will produce blooms which are deep red, vibrant orange, and even spotted and striped!
Alas, these beautiful blooms normally do not have a smell. Although the Phalaenopsis
species and Doritaeniopsis hyrids produced most frequently by crossing Phalaenopsis
species with the terrestrial, floriferous Doritis
species are not noted for their scent, new hybrids are being bred to include a fragrance.
Nowadays these orchids are mass-produced in SE Asia and sold everywhere, even in "convenience" shops at "bargain" prices. It is highly recommenderd to be prepared that all too often thes plants were handled rather carelessly and got damaged in transit or during the time they spend in such shops.
Read my articles titled Bargain orchids? Beware!
about the pitfalls of such bargains and the not infrequently special care such plants requie until they can recover and establish themselves in your home or greenhouse.
Their cultural requirements are quite easy to maintain making these one of the easiest orchids to grow. They like bright filtered light
- hot direct sun can burn their large fleshy leaves in minutes.
The temperatures they like are the mid 80's F during the day and low 60's F at night. Do not let them stay in temperatures below 55 degrees F for any length of time, they start to breakdown very quickly at low temperatures.
In the Autumn, a difference between night and day temperatures needs to be at least 10-15 degrees F for about 14 days to help initiate their flower spike.
Like all orchids they like the humidity in a range of 40 to 70 percent. They like media that retain moisture and are well aerated. Fine to medium orchid potting mix
moss are excellent.
They like to be misted but do not allow water to sit in the crown. The fastest way to kill a Phalaenopsis is crown rot.
When not much else is blooming in my greenhouse, I usually can find the pretty Moth orchids in bloom. They stay in bloom for months at a time with some starting in early spring and others in late fall. Moth orchids are some of the very first orchids I grew in my home. I grew them in the same window as my African violets and they thrived.
They are an easy plant for the beginner to try in their homes or greenhouse and they are very rewarding with their long lasting beautiful blooms. They are a fast maturing orchid, taking only about two to three years from seed to flower spike compared to seven years like other orchids.