Phalaenopsis White (Orchid)
The Phalaenopsis or 'Moth Orchid' is the most common orchid due to its ease of production and the availability of blooming plants year-round. Phals are easily grown in the home and stay in bloom for a very long time. A mature phal will be in bloom much of the year with graceful inflorescences loaded with good-sized blooms.
Origin: Southeast Asia to the Philippines, New Guinea and northern Australia
Height: 8 to 36 inches tall (depending on species and variety), 12 inches wide
Light: Good light is required for phalaenopsis but they can experience absolutely no direct sunlight, or the leaves will scorch. Rotate the plant from time to time to keep growth equal. Phalaenopsis can tolerate low light and will thrive in an east window, or a shaded southerly or westerly exposure.
Soil: Instead of regular soil, they need potting material that mimics a host tree or comes from a tree, such as ground fir tree bark, redwood bark chips, or Monterey pine bark chips. Most bark potting media will work. Also, make sure there is some perlite, sphagnum moss, charcoal, or coconut husk chips mixed in to help with water retention. You can also buy a commercial potting mix that is made special for orchids. No matter the potting media you use, make sure there is plenty of air circulation for the rooting system.
Water: Phalaenopsis is a monopodial orchid, which means that it grows from a single stem. It does not have the large water-storing pseudobulbs found on sympodial orchids, although its leaves can store some water. Thus, this plant has a lower tolerance for drought.
Temperature and Humidity: Phalaenopsis orchids are considered warm houseplants. During active growth, they like temperatures between about 75 and 85 degrees F., but they can adapt to a normal house temperature of 65 to 70 degrees. The higher the temperature, the greater the plant's need for humidity. As with all orchids, the higher the humidity and temperature, the greater the need for turbulent airflow to prevent rot, fungus, and diseases.
Fertilizer: During the growing season, fertilize with a weak orchid fertilizer weekly ("weakly weekly," as the growers say). Cut fertilizer back to once a month during the winter and flowering season. Some growers like to give the plant a boost of blooming fertilizer in September or October to provoke a flower spike.