Like A Moth To A Flame

 Unlike a lot of gardeners, I cannot get outside in the winter and garden, boo hoo! I am forced to have some house plants if I want to smell earth and get my hands in the soil this time of year.

However, I am not big on house plants, sacrilege I know, especially as I am a floral designer. We sell house plants and I have to be positive about them. I just find that I am too busy in the summer gardening, to take care of them. And driving back and forth between two homes does not help, did I remember to water them before I left for the week? It drives me crazy. So I do not have any, perhaps when I am settled in one house I will get some, but right now, nothing. Except orchids.

I find that orchids are undemanding, at least phalaenopsis,or moth orchid  which is the only variety I have in my home. They can take a lot of neglect,  most of our customers kill them by overwatering them, or letting them stand in water, they hate that. A general guideline is to water once a week in the winter and twice a week in the summer.

They like bright light but no direct sun and average temperatures, if it is comfortable for you, it is perfect for them.

There are so many beautiful colours of phalos besides the classic white.

Here is another. What an amazing colour!


When they are finished flowering do not cut the stem off at the ground. If you do this it takes forever for them to flower again. Orchid growers tell you to cut back the stem, to just above the second node, but I never do that. I find mine send out a side flowering shoot rom the main stem, near the top. Probably the plant would have a neater look if I did cut them back, but I am too lazy to do this, and they still flower for me. A temperature fluctuation of 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit, is the key for them to set a flower spike.  They should be fertilized once per month with an orchid fertilizer. Repotting is around every two years, you’ll know they need done when there is a large number of roots hanging outside the pot.

Phalaenopsis orchids are so inexpensive now, please try one, you will be glad you did.



37 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    fairegarden said,

    Oh, Deborah, those are luscious! I don’t really consider orchids as houseplants for some reason. Your tips are perfect. There are for sale so many places, even the grocery store and not expensive. The Paphs are what call my name, the care is similar but they are harder to find.

    • 2

      Frances, I love Paphs, or Lady Slipper orchids as well. They are much more expensive(here), so I have never tried to grow one. Tissue culture has really brought down the Phalos prices, maybe Paphs are next!

  2. 3

    teza said,

    I saw so many yesterday, but I just haven’t got the desire to kill something so beautiful, and trust me, been there twice with this genus. If it doesn’t grow in the shade, out of doors. hardy to Zone 5….. its toast! Plain and simple! They are stunning though. Window shopping….. yeah I’m the guy who leaves fingerprints on the front window and then tries to write witty anecdotes when they fog over…

  3. 5

    Liisa said,

    What beautiful color! I love the phalaenopsis and paphiopedilum. I recently purchased an oncidium, Tropic Tom ‘Kinky’ which is also lovely. I have found them to be relatively easy-going (in bloom they tolerated a 10 hour plane ride getting bumped around and passed through security) as far as care is concerned. Maybe we can convince Teza to try again.

  4. 7

    Great post Deborah, your orchids are beautiful. Maybe I will try one, they’ve always scared me off. I am also not a big houseplant person, mine suffer from terrible neglect. I did buy a little pot of club moss on the weekend, just so I can sniff it.

  5. 10

    Jean said,

    Deborah, I’ve had houseplants as long as I can remember, but I’ve always been afraid to try orchids, assuming that they needed a hot-house environment and lots of coddling. Over-watering is definitely not an issue for me. Since, like you, I shuttle between two homes, all my plants must be able to survive a certain amount of abuse and neglect. How wonderful to learn that these gorgeous orchids might fit in that category. I’m going to treat myself to one (or two? or three?) Thanks for the helpful tips and encouragement.

    • 11

      Jean, I hope that one day I have the patience for house plants. I used to buy them and then look over in the corner one day and find them in a slovenly heap. I did not realize that you also lived in two homes, probably due to that bad habit I listed on my Honest Scrap post. I hope you have luck with them.

  6. 12

    Wendy said,

    I totally agree with you on the lack of houseplants…except orchids…I can’t keep those either! The ones I’ve had in the past have ended up being 2 leaves growing in a pot. No flowers. ever. Yours are beautiful though! I do love that one with the amazing color.

    • 13

      Wendy, did they have flowers on them when you bought them? If they did what happened to the stem after? I find that mone come back into flower faster it I up the light level a bit, but be careful not to sunburn the leaves.

  7. 14

    Your phalos are beautiful. Congratulations to you for growing these great plants. You have more house plants than I do. You are right, I spend all my energy outside and haven’t the time to take care of indoor plants. I do have a couple of cactus plants which don’t mind if I forget to water them for a month or so, and I keep them inside only because there is no hope to grow them outside in our humid climate.

    • 15

      Deborah, if I didn’t get these for free at work, I probably wouldn’t have any as well. I just can’t be bothered with them. Luckily I work in a flower shop, that gives me a good fix, during the winter. I read somewhere that florists/greenhouse workers are very contented, due to the higher level of oxygen in the air. All those plants are good for the filtering.

  8. 16

    Edith Hope said,

    Of course, you are so right. If one is to have only one house plant, then there can be no choice but orchids.
    Thank you so much for your detailed comment on my blog. How exciting that you also know of Wild at Heart and that you lived so close when you were in London.
    I am now subscribing to your blog as I am totally fascinated by what you have to say, with your ideas and your wonderful pictures. I, alas, do not have a camera.

    • 17

      Edith, it is a pleasure to see you visiting again. Orchids are so elegant, they suit any home, modern or traditional.
      I enjoyed reading your blog as well. I finally got a digital camera this past May, and have really enjoyed it (not that I am past the automatic “point and shoot”). All my garden pictures look so much nicer on the computer, and my blog is a lovely journal that I will appreciate the rest of my life. Do go out and get a digital camera, they are most enjoyable.

  9. 18

    Joy said,

    Deborah .. my “pick” for your worked ! it might be fixed now ? .. I killed two orchids and I think it was the over watering thing .. I might just try again though since you have explained it so well .. I do love how beautiful they are : )

    • 19

      Joy, underwatering is better than overwatering. We use a lot of decorative containers to hold the plastic growers pot, and a lot of customers just water them in there. Next thing you know, the water level inside is very high and they die.
      Thanks for your help with Blotanical, I really appreciate it.

  10. 20

    You didn’t warn people that phalaenopsis are like potato chips–you can’t possibly have just one. 😉 Yours are phenomenal.

    • 21

      Jodi, aren’t the colours amazing. How can you pick your favourite? When I first started as a floral designer (almost 20 years ago) there was very little colour choice. Now there is too many, (at least for the sake of my wallet, lol.)

  11. 22

    Tatyana said,

    It sounds like a piece of cake, but for me it’s a rocket science. I killed a couple of them several years ago. Should I try again? There is no bright light in my house…

    • 23

      Tatyana, if your room is bright enough to read without turning a light on, it is bright enough for the phalos. At the flower shop, we are on the concourse level, so no natural light at all, but artifical light will keep them flowering, although it is not enough to get them to rebloom. Please give them another try!

  12. 24

    Lovely Phalaenopsis Deborah! I love the ease and forgiveness of these orchids and their blooms are so colorful and cheery! People think raising orchids is difficult but truly, as you say, they are not. 😉 Carol

  13. 26

    mothernaturesgarden said,

    I prefer my plants outside as well. The temp fluctuation was helpful info.

  14. 28

    Deborah, do you mean a slight *chill* (or increase?) of 10-15 degrees? And F or C? Otherwise, all great info on these exotic orchids. I’m very bad with houseplants, with neglect being my biggest sin. No danger of overwatering!

    • 29

      Helen, I am so a product of my generation. After growing up with Fahrenheit, it was certainly a change to go to celsius. Now I seem to think in both, depending on what it is. The temperature variation is in Fahrenfeit. ie: 70 degrees F, during day, dropping to 55 – 60 degrees F, at night. I changed it in the post, thank you for pointing that out.

  15. 30

    Finally – someone has made it sound doable! Thank you, Deborah. I have tried and failed and have had conflicting advice given to me – none of which worked. I think maybe it’s time I tried again. Cheers!

    • 31

      Don’t you find that it is the same way with gardening. Everyone has their own little ways. This advice is from the grower,(except the part where I am to lazy to prune back the stem).

  16. 32

    Edith Hope said,

    Deborah, I do hope you do not mind my having mentioned your name in my blog of today. This is simply to say that the massed stems worked superbly and thank you so much for the idea. I set them on the hall table where they made a TOWERING welcome and were much admired. I expect they will last for weeks.

  17. 34

    leavesnbloom said,

    Hi Deborah

    I love the phalenopsis too and even tho I tend all types of orchids in work I only have the moth one at home. I only ever cut back the stem if it dies back naturally. Mine are nearly all resting just now so I think I need to go and buy another. I have a wild one growing in the garden and I am working with a horticulturalist at work who used to grow slipperorchids in his garden in Denmark so I am trying to find out if I could grow some outdoors here too.

    🙂 Rosie

  18. 36

    catmint said,

    Hi Deborah, I’m with you, I have a few houseplants but my heart isn’t with them like those in the garden. But interestingly I did hear recently about research that shows how useful they are for cleaning the air in our houses. The orchids are so delicate. I have had orchids in a pot in a shady spot outside for at least 10 years. They get neglected and are heathy, but have never flowered. Cheers, catmint

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