How to Grow and Care for Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis Orchid) Indoors

Moth Orchid, Phalaenopsis Orchid

Botanical name: Phalaenopsis spp
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Vandeae
Subtribe: Aeridinae
Common names: Moth Orchid, Phals


Phalaenopsis Orchid commonly called Moth Orchids or Phals are popular orchids which bear flat-faced, fragrant, long-lasting flowers on a stem that branches near the end.

The flower sepals and petals in Phals are all free and widely apart from each other. The petals are are much wider than the sepals.

The lip (lowermost petal) in Moth Orchids is significantly different from the other petals and has three lobes.

Several of these flat-faced flowers blooming along an arching stem look like moths in flight and hence the common name, 'moth orchid'.

Moth Orchids are monopodial; these are plants which grow from a single point, they add leaves to the apex each year and the stem grows longer accordingly.

Phalaenopsis Orchids have long-coarse roots and short, leafy stems hidden by overlapping leaf bases; they do not have pseudobulbs.

The leaves in Moth Orchids are dark-green on top with streaks of red or burgundy on the the undersides. They are usually arranged in two rows, relatively large and leathery, oblong and sometimes succulent.

The genus name, Phalaenopsis is derived from the Greek word phalaina meaning "a kind of moth" in reference to the moth-shaped flowers.

The genus name, Phalaenopsis is abbreviated as "Phal" in horticultural journals.


Many hybrids and cultivars of Phalaenopsis Orchids have been developed. Flowers are available in red, white, pink , yellow and purple and sometimes spotted and often with a contrasting lip and veins.


Phalaenopsis is a genus of orchids occurring in the wild from tropical to subtropical Asia with the majority in Indonesia and Philippines where they grow on trees.

Moth Orchid, Phalaenopsis Orchid

Phalaenopsis Orchid Care Indoors

Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis Orchid) care indoors is easy when provided with the right growing conditions. Moth Orchids thrive in bright, indirect light, warm and humid conditions and loose, rich, well-aerated soil coupled with regular feeding during the growing period.

Phalaenopsis Orchid requires regular pruning to keep them neat as well as encourage flowering. Repotting is needed only when they become pot-bound or the soil becomes completely broken down. Keep on reading for more on these growing conditions.

Light requirements

Moth Orchid grows best in bright, indirect light of about 10 hours per day. Keep it away from direct sunshine to avoid sun scorch on the leaves.

Regularly turn the pot to ensure that the Orchid receives adequate light on all sides for uniform growth.

A Moth Orchid that is receiving the right amount of light has dark-green leaves.

Yellowish leaves means that the Phalaenopsis Orchid is receiving too much light.

Phalaenopsis Orchid will also grow under a grow light where natural light is inadequate.


Water Moth Orchid thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top half of the soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time.

To take the guesswork out of watering a Phalaenopsis Orchid, check the roots. Whitish-green and plump roots indicate that the Orchid is well hydrated. Whitish-silvery, thin roots indicate the Orchid needs to be watered.

Water the Orchid with water that is at room temperature to avoid shocking this tropical plant as it can lead to reduced growth.

Phals are sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals dissolved in water, therefore, water with chlorine-free water only.

Avoid wetting the foliage as it can lead to fungal diseases. Water the orchid from the bottom instead. Should you wet the foliage, dry it by wiping with a dry soft cloth.

Phalaenopsis Orchids are less tolerant of dry soil conditions due to the absence of pseudobulbs, therefore they cannot tolerate long periods of dryness.


The best temperatures for growing Moth Orchid indoors are between 10-290C. The warmer days and cooler night temperatures with a difference of 10-150C are ideal for Phals. The cool nights are essential to trigger flowering.

Ensure there is good air circulation as Phals cannot tolerate hot and stuffy conditions.

Keep the Phalaenopsis Orchid away from draughts to avoid sudden changes in temperature which can negatively affect the growth of the orchid


Moderate humidity is ideal for Moth Orchids. Where the air is too dry, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to raise humidity.

Do not mist Phalaenopsis Orchids as misting encourages to fungal disease infestations. Occasionally clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth.

Fertilizer (Feeding)

Feed Moth Orchid during the growing season with an orchid's fertilizer as per the manufacturer's instructions.

Do not feed Phals during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time. Do not feed an orchid that is in flower as it can shorten the flowering period.

It is better to err on the side of underfeeding than overfeeding a Moth Orchid as overfeeding can result in loss of the roots thus death of the orchid.

If you overfeed the Phalaenopsis Orchid, it can also lead to vegetative growth at the expense of flower production.


Repot Moth Orchid only when growth begins to suffer which is when the lower leaves begin to die as it blooms best when it is pot-bound.

Basically repotting a Moth Orchid every 2 years should be adequate.

Repot it only when new growth begins, shortly after blooming is over. Do not repot an orchid that is in flower as it may shorten the flowering season.

Use a pot with proper drainage holes or slits as the roots of a Moth Orchid need good air circulation.

The pot should be only 1 size larger than the current one. Use a loose, free-draining bark soil to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting.

While repotting, remove all the soil from around the stems and roots.

Remove any dead and dying leaves from the bottom of the Moth Orchid as they are breeding ground for pests and diseases. Remove dead roots to create space for the growth of new roots.

Thereafter, water the orchid thoroughly and ensure that both the soil and the roots absorb all the water they need.


Pruning Moth Orchid is easy. Remove dead and diseased leaves by cutting them at the base with sharp scissors or a knife.

When flowering is over, cut the flower stalk 1 in. above the 3rd node from the bottom.


Phalaenopsis Orchids (Moth Orchids) propagation can be done at the beginning of the growing season from keikis.

The Phalaenopsis Orchids naturally produce "baby" orchids called "keiki" which normally appear on an old or new flower spike or at the base of the orchid.

Keikis are identical copies of the parent plant. Keiki growth can be triggered by prolonged exposure to high temperature during the final phase of spike growth.

How to propagate Moth Orchid from keikis

The keiki can be detached from the mother Moth Orchid when about one year old when it has developed 2-3 leaves and 1-3 in. long roots.

Pot the keiki in fresh potting medium. Direct the roots of the keiki downwards and provide support for the keiki.

Place the set up in a well-lit, warm place and mist the keiki regularly to maintain a humid enviroment.

The Phalaenopsis Orchid keiki may take 6-12 months to bloom.

Moth Orchid, Phalaenopsis Orchid

Phalaenopsis Orchid Problems Indoors

Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis Orchid) problems indoors include black leaf tips, lack of blooms, mold, drooping leaves, leaf spots, discolored leaves, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems and how to fix them.

Mold on the leaves

This is an indication of powdery mildew disease in Moth Orchid.

Misting the Phalaenopsis Orchid may lead to mildew growth if the water does not evaporate quickly. Ensure that there is good air circulation for the Phals and stop misting.

Brown soft spots on the leaves

Brown soft spots on the leaves of a Moth Orchid are an indication of a fungal disease. Remove the affected leaves immediately to prevent further spread.

Brown hard and dry spots on leaves

Exposure of Moth Orchid to direct sunshine will result in scorch marks which are brown hard and dry spots on the leaves.

Move the Phalaenopsis Orchid to a shadier spot or protect it from hot direct sunshine.

Limpy and drooping leaves

Limpy and drooping leaves in Moth Orchid are caused by underwatering. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Water the Phalaenopsis Orchid thoroughly, maintain the soil consistently moist and allow only the top half of the soil to dry out between waterings.

Yellowish leaves

Yellowish leaves in Moth Orchid indicate that the orchid is getting too much light. Move the orchid to a shadier spot. The leaves of a Phalaenopsis Orchid that is receiving bright, indirect light should be dark-green.

Leaf tips turning black and dying

The cause of black leaf tips in Moth Orchid is the presence of chemicals like chlorine and flourides in the water or accumulation of salts in the soil.

Use chlorine-free water only to water the orchid and flush out accumulated salts from the soil by running a stream of water through the soil for about 10 minutes until it comes out through the drainage holes.

Lack of blooms

One possible reason for lack of blooms in Moth Orchid is too little light. Move the orchid to a brighter spot and ensure it is receiving bright, indirect light or instal a grow light where the natural light is not adequate.

The second possible reason for lack of blooms in Phalaenopsis Orchid is overfeeding. Overfeeding can result in vegetative growth at the expense of flowers production.

Feed the Moth Orchid during the growing season with an orchid's fertilizer as per the manufacturer's instructions but do not feed during the cold season.


Moth Orchids pests; Mealy Bugs, Scale Insects, Slugs and Snails. Isolate the affected Orchid to prevent spread to other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the pests.

Is Moth Orchid toxic?

Moth Orchids (Phalaenopsis Orchid) are non-toxic to both humans and pets. They are safe to grow indoors.

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