Connecticut Garden Journal: Moth Orchids

Jan 16, 2018

This time of year we're all starved for color indoors. But there's one houseplant that can brighten up your day and is found in grocery stores to home centers.

Moth orchids are probably the most common and easiest orchid to grow indoors. It can withstand the low light and humidity levels of winter. The flower stalks stay open for months with little extra care. So, instead of buying some cut flowers for a room, buy a few moth orchids.

Moth orchids get their name from the shape of the flowers. They come in a mind dizzying array of colors.

Once you get your orchid home, place the pot in an indirectly lit, bright, warm area, such as an east-facing window. The potting medium for moth orchids is a mix of bark and sphagnum moss. Keep the medium evenly moist, but not wet. Let it dry out a little between waterings. If the flowers start closing and dropping, you're probably overwatering.

Fertilize your moth orchid every other week when they're actively growing. Once the flowers fade naturally, cut the flower spike off at the base.

Although the flowers can last for months, eventually they will stop blooming. Now what? Moth orchid flower spikes form from fall through winter.

To initiate flower spike formation, the orchid needs about a 15-degree temperature differential from day to night. That's why many moth orchids don't bloom again indoors because our indoor temperatures stay steady in fall and winter. Try moving the orchid into a cooler room for a week or so. Once the flower stalk forms, move it back into a bright, warm room.

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about English Cottage Gardens. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.