Did you know that Phalaenopsis amabilis is the national flower of Indonesia? It is a medium-sized, epiphytic orchid. In Latin, the word ‘amabilis’ means lovely. It belongs to the Orchidaceae family and the Phalaenopsis genus.
Read our expert care guide to know how to grow and care for the lovely Phalaenopsis.
What Is Phalaenopsis Amabilis?
Phalaenopsis orchids are quite popular among orchid enthusiasts and one such variety is the Phalaenopsis amabilis orchid. It is endemic to the Australian and Indonesian islands where it grows as an epiphyte but sometimes can be found growing as a lithophyte.
As an epiphyte, it grows on the tree barks, and as a lithophyte, it grows in the cracks and crevices of the rocks. This single-stemmed epiphyte grows on high trees in dense forests.
Phalaenopsis amabilis is commonly called The Moth orchid or The Moon orchid, Anggrek Bulan, The Lovely Phalaenopsis, Phalaenopsis gloriosa, and Epidendrum Amabile.
It was first discovered by a Dutch botanist, Dr. C.L. Blume.
Size and Growth
Phalaenopsis amabilis is an easy grower found growing in forests and sometimes near the ocean. It is a monopodial orchid meaning that it has neither pseudobulbs nor rhizomes.
It grows upward from the top of the plant and produces roots and flowers from a single vertical stem. The stem is 4 to 12 inches long and is hidden with leaf bases.
Even though the Moon orchid is native to Indonesia, it can be found in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.
Phalaenopsis amabilis has fleshy, silvery, dark green, egg-shaped leaves that are 6 to 12 inches long and 1.5 to 3 inches wide. The oblong leaves are arranged on two rows along the stem. The leaves are long and floppy.
Phalaenopsis amabilis has long-lasting flowers with up to 10 blooms on one branch. The flowers are arranged on a 12 to 30 inches tall stiff stem. Each branch can bear 2 to 10 blooms at a time. Each flower is 2.4 to 2.8 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide.
Phalaenopsis amabilis is a summer bloomer. The blooms are white and have three-lobed yellow lips.
Phalaenopsis amabilis has a long and thick root system that can grow as long as three and a half feet into the soil. The width varies between 0.12 and 1.16 inches. In some cases, the orchid may have aerial roots that are not placed in the soil mix.
Do not cut these roots and do not place them in the soil mix. Give them a spray from time to time to make sure they do not dehydrate.
The roots may be green or silvery gray, depending on the water available. If the roots are dehydrated, they will be gray, and if they are watered adequately, they will have a glossy green color.
Phalaenopsis Amabilis: Its Growth Requirements
The Moon orchid is not too demanding and will reward you with many blooms if you provide it with the right growing conditions. Read on to find out its appropriate requirements.
Location and Light Requirements
Phalaenopsis amabilis is not too picky when it comes to its light requirements. It prefers intermediate light. Indirect, filtered sunlight works the best, whereas direct sunlight can cause burns.
Keep your orchid in an East facing balcony where it gets direct morning sun and some filtered sunlight throughout the day. You can also grow the Lovely phalaenopsis under artificial light using grow lights if natural sunlight does not reach your home.
Phalaenopsis amabilis needs a slightly damp environment for proper growth, but it needs to dry out just a bit in between the waterings. It is easy to care for this orchid if you follow the correct watering regimen.
Water once a week or so when the top inch of the soil has dried out. Keep the moisture level constant but do not overwater as it leads to root rot. The best time to water is early morning so that the plant gets enough time to absorb the water without getting overwatered and soggy soil conditions.
Phalaenopsis orchids like to be watered thoroughly and like to be soaked well. But be careful about how often you should water. The easiest way to figure out when to water your orchid is by looking at its roots.
If the roots are green, it means that the orchid is hydrated and does not need water. But if the roots appear gray or silver, it means that your orchid needs water.
Always use lukewarm or room temperature water. Do not water with too cold or hot water and ice cubes. Cold or hot water can damage your orchid’s root system.
Use tap water if it is not very hard. Rainwater or distilled water can also be used. To water, use another pot or container without drainage holes and fill it with water. Place the orchid inside the bigger pot and fill the bigger pot with water. Let the orchid sit there for a few minutes until it gets a good soak.
Do not water from above the orchid as it leads to problems like crown rot.
Phalaenopsis amabilis grows as an epiphyte, which means that its aerial roots hang on to the tree trunks and not in the soil.
Epiphytic orchids do not grow in soil like most houseplants. Instead, they grow attached to tree trunks. So they love extra ventilation around the roots. Potting them in the regular garden soil will suffocate the root system and kill the orchid.
You can find a wide variety of ready-to-use potting media for orchids which contains bark chips with some coconut husk or charcoal or some sphagnum moss. To prepare your own soil mix, use bark chips as substrate.
For drainage and ventilation, we recommend adding perlite or charcoal to the bark chips. The bark media is not too water-retentive and is great for ventilation. The Lovely phalaenopsis also grows well in wooden baskets in sphagnum moss. Avoid using peat moss as it can suffocate the root system.
Phalaenopsis amabilis grows well in moderate temperatures. The ideal temperature for its growth is between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It can also adapt well to temperatures lying in the range of 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the temperature falls below 65 degrees Fahrenheit for a longer time period, some hybrid varieties may lose buds. If the temperature is too high, the leaves become limp, and the orchid gets dehydrated.
The lovely phalaenopsis is a warm to hot growing, thermophilic orchid. In summer, it needs an average daytime temperature of 80 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit and a night-time temperature of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
In winter, it needs an average daytime temperature of 80 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit but a lower night-time temperature of 65 to 69 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower night-time temperatures are required during fall and winter to stimulate flowering.
The night-time temperature drop helps the orchid in producing flower spikes.When the temperature is too low, shift your orchid to a warmer spot inside the home in a covered spot away from frost.
The Moon orchid does not enjoy a lot of dry air. The ideal humidity level is 70 to 80 percent. To maintain the humidity levels around 50 to 70 percent, mist the orchid and keep a humidifier around the plant. Use the pebble tray method to maintain humidity if a humidifier is not available.
Phalaenopsis amabilis is a heavy fertilizer feeder. Apply one-fourth to one-half of the recommended fertilizer once every one to two weeks. Do not overfertilize more than what is specified on the label.
Fertilizing during the active growth period of spring and summer helps in the stimulation of new growth. Boost the fertilization when new flower spikes start to appear. Avoid fertilizing during winter as the orchid goes into a rest period.
Never use multi-purpose fertilizers on orchids.
Always use specialized fertilizers meant for orchids. Use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer during the spring and summer months of active growth. In the autumn and winter months, use a bloom-boosting fertilizer that is rich in phosphorus. Reduce or completely stop fertilizing during winter.
Type of Pot
Use clear or transparent pots to see how the roots are developing. If there is a problem with the root system, then you can detect it in time and also figure out when to water the orchid.
Some people also use ceramic pots, but the problem with them is that a lot of roots get clung to the pot, and at the time of repotting, you will have to break many roots. Another advantage of clear, plastic pots is that the roots can photosynthesize.
Choose the pot size according to the orchid. It needs to contain the orchid’s root system, but at the same time, the roots must stay snug. Avoid planting a smaller orchid in a very big pot, as the plant will focus more on producing roots than producing flowering.
In addition to the existing drainage holes, provide extra aeration to your orchid by making extra holes on the sides of the pot.
Repotting the Lovely Phalaenopsis
Phalaenopsis amabilis needs repotting every two years or so. This is because, over a period of two years, the soil mix accumulates too much salt from the fertilizer.
The soil mix also starts to break down and become toxic. To repot, use a pot one size bigger than the previous one. Fresh, new soil mix is required every two years as soggy and fine soil mix spoils the plant roots.
To repot, gently remove the plant from the old container. Cut off all the dead roots and place the plant in the bigger pot. After repotting, keep the plant in a shaded spot for two to three days before it recovers from the shock.
The ideal time to repot is just after the flowering during spring.
One common problem that many novice gardeners face with Phalaenopsis amabilis is Crown rot. Crown rot happens because of watering from the top and leaving the water standing in the crown of the orchid.
To avoid such issues, ensure that you do not leave any standing water between the leaves or in the center of the plant.
Phalaenopsis amabilis is a great orchid if your home receives an adequate amount of bright, indirect light. It needs minimal care and effort if you are able to meet all or most of its requirements.
Let us summarize everything we have learned about this pretty orchid so far.
- Phalaenopsis amabilis is an epiphytic, monopodial orchid found in Indonesia, Australia, and surrounding islands
- It grows well in moderate temperatures
- It has long-lasting, showy, white flowers that bloom throughout the summer and spring
- It prefers bright, indirect light to grow well; morning sun works well for blooms
- Give the orchid a good soak once a week or so when the soil mix considerably dries out
- It manages to grow well in moderate temperatures; temperature drop is required to stimulate flowering
- It prefers a humidity level of 70 to 80 percent; maintain humidity by spritzing regularly
- Fertilize every week using orchid fertilizer during the active growth period and reduce during winter
- Repot every two years when the soil mix disintegrates, and the plant is root-bound
- It occasionally faces problems like crown rot which you can avoid by not watering the orchid from above; instead, use another pot to water from below.
We hope that our expert tips have helped you with all the information you needed about this orchid, and you are going to add this lovely orchid to your garden and give aesthetic vibes to your home!