There is a wide variety of these plants, but Phalaenopsis are one of the most popular and widespread orchids in gardening and decoration. These beautiful flowers, which are named for their resemblance to butterfly wings, originate mainly in Australia and the Philippines, as well as in some other areas of Asia and Africa.
In this article, we are going to see what are the main characteristics and care of the Phalaenopsis orchid or butterfly orchid, so if you want to have one in your home, keep reading these lines.
Phalaenopsis orchid characteristics
The butterfly orchid is also called alevilla orchid and mouth orchid . Like other orchids, they are epiphytic plants , which means that instead of anchoring themselves to the ground with their roots, they use other trees or plants as hosts to cling to.
Another peculiarity of these plants is that they are capable of photosynthesis also with their roots, which are strong and green in color, usually aerial. Its leaves are large and grow very close to the roots. In them the central nerve can be distinguished very clearly, and they are of a very vivid green color.
Its flowers come out of a kind of long rods that the plant produces and that it is usually necessary to train so that they do not fall. They have petals of very different colors, and even with speckled patterns, very striking and beautiful.
Phalaenopsis orchid: basic care
In this practical guide you will see what the basic care of the Phalaenopsis orchid is , from its watering, substrate and fertilizer to its location, necessary light and adequate temperature:
How to water the Phalaenopsis orchid
Like all orchids, this plant does not tolerate excess humidity or puddles, both on the leaves and on the roots. Therefore, they should always be watered in the morning and, if possible, by immersion . That is, submerging the pot in water for a few minutes and allowing the plant to absorb the necessary water and then extract it and allow the drainage holes to eliminate the excess water.
However, it is important not to water Phalaenopsis with tap water. These waters are usually very hard and have too high a mineral content, so it is necessary to use light mineral water or treat the water to demineralize it.
In addition, it is highly recommended to spray some water several times a day around the leaves and aerial roots. This tropical plant needs quite high humidity levels, so its natural conditions can be better emulated.
Light and location of the butterfly orchid
Phalaenopsis does not tolerate direct sun exposure well, but it will not grow properly in shady environments either. Find a very bright room, but in which the sun’s rays do not hit your plant directly. Using a curtain that lets in some natural light can also be a very good option.
Ideal temperature for Phalaenopsis
As a tropical plant, it does not tolerate intense cold or very high temperatures with dryness. The ideal temperature range for the butterfly orchid is between 23ºC and 24ºC, but with sufficient ambient humidity it can withstand temperatures of up to 30ºC. As far as cold is concerned, do not under any circumstances let the temperature drop below 13 ºC.
Substrate and compost
Orchids need very light special substrates that provide good drainage, otherwise watering can puddle the soil too much and end up damaging the plants with its excess moisture. In addition, these plants may have times when they also need specific fertilizers, which are applied more regularly before the flowering of the plant begins and which are usually used vaporized or sprayed on the substrate.
When and how to transplant a Phalaenopsis orchid
It is quite common for this plant to be kept in transparent containers or pots , so that its thick green roots can also carry out photosynthesis and thus help flowering. This also helps us to know the state of health of the plant and to appreciate if it needs water or not, because when they turn whitish they are drying out and need watering until they are green again.
Taking this into account, the butterfly orchid only needs to be transplanted when it has grown too large for its container, or when it has suffered the attack of some fungus or bacteria that has to be eradicated from the substrate.
When transplanting a Phalaenopsis orchid, it must be taken into account that it should always be done during the period of vegetative rest, in cold months, and it is necessary to use a specific substrate for orchids . In addition, in the weeks immediately after the transplant, it is advisable to avoid fertilizing and to measure the risks very well to avoid excesses, as well as to keep it protected from very intense lights.