Moth orchids (phalaenopsis) are one of the most popular houseplants and with plenty of good reasons for it. As you can see from the picture, they have stunning flowers that get their name from the moth-like appearance. Couple that with the fact they are super easy to care for and you’ve got an ideal houseplant.
So, just how long do phalaenopsis orchids live? Due to their popularity and low price, it’s not uncommon for people to throw them out after they have finished their flowering cycle. This is usually 2 to 3 months long. However, there has been reports of some living for over 100 years. So, with the right care and attention, you can expect to keep your orchid for at least a few decades.
As a lot of people throw away their orchid after the initial bloom, they’re usually unaware that the plant is actually entering a resting period ready for the next bloom. This is where it will store up the energy required to make such beautiful flowers. With a phalaenopsis orchid, you can expect it to bloom from once to three times per year. The latter if you’re lucky and are taking exceptional care of it.
Keeping this plant around for a few decades will require an attentive grower. But there are a few simple tips that you can follow to really help extend it’s lifespan.
Placement In Your Home
Choosing the right location in your home can be vital to the health of your orchid. There are a few factors that you need to consider when choosing the ideal location.
Ideally you want to choose somewhere that has a consistent temperature. Any random spikes in temperature can cause the leaves on your orchid to fall off. This is due to the plant going into shock because of the sudden change in environment.
Another thing to bear in mind is the lighting. Orchids absolutely love bright, filtered sunlight. So it’s best if you place it in a north/eastern facing window so it’s not getting direct beams of sunlight. If that’s not an option, then just keep it away from the window, out of direct sunlight. Failing that, you can always place something over the window to help filter out the direct sunlight.
The final thing to consider is humidity. This is a tropical plant so it really enjoys a humid environment. Can you think of anywhere in your home that could provide humidity and light? The bathroom! Orchids tend to do pretty well in bathrooms, so it’s an ideal spot to place one. Otherwise, you can give the kitchen a go or look to increase the humidity surrounding the plant.
Whilst these are an easy plant to care for, they are sensitive when it comes to watering. So getting this part right is key to increasing the lifespan of your phalaenopsis orchid. Plus, getting the watering right can have a huge impact on the length of blooms.
As with all plants, to get the watering right, you first need to get the potting soil right. For this plant, you want a really well draining potting medium. Then, you want to ensure the pot it’s in has plenty of drainage holes. You might even want a saucer too to help capture excess water, but that’s not necessary.
Just remember, if you do use a saucer, to empty the excess water out as soon as you’ve finished watering your Orchid. Otherwise that will defeat the purpose of the well draining medium. If the water doesn’t drain properly, then the roots will be soaked in water. This is detrimental to most plants health. It will cause root rot to set in which can easily mark the end of your plants lifespan.
But anyway, the watering itself. To get this right you need to be monitoring your orchids soil at various frequencies, depending on the weather. As soon as you see the soil has nearly dried out completely is the time you need to water your plant.
This will ensure the plant gets the water it needs. However, you need to ensure that you don’t water directly onto the flowers or leaves. Again, this has a chance of causing rot/mould to form on your plant. People often make this mistake thinking this is a good way to increase the humidity, it’s not.
Here are a few common mistakes that novice orchid growers make. They’re super easy to overlook, so don’t feel ashamed if you’re making any. It’s all part of the learning process, trust me!
Misting During Blooms
This is a mistake I was very much prone to, but I quickly learned my lesson. As these are tropical plants that thrive in humidity, misting is a common way to increase the humidity. Well, that’s fine most of the time. But during the bloom phase, it can have a detrimental affect on your moth orchids health.
It can cause a fungus to start growing on the plant. Which can easily spread to other plants in the home if you don’t take action fast. But as it’s a tropical plant, you might be wondering why it’s not naturally resistant to this. Well, the main reason for this is the lack of airflow in the home. In it’s natural environment there would be a breeze blowing throughout the day, which helps the water evaporate away. So unless, you’ve got your orchid near a consistent airflow then it’s not worth the risk. I’d recommend that you avoid misting it during its flowering phase.
Nearby Ripening Fruits
As this plant is quite common in the kitchen, and tends to grow well in there. It’s super easy to overlook the fact that there are fruits nearby, ripening. As fruits ripe, they give off a gas called ethylene. This is a natural part of a plants life cycle and is actually a major hormone that affects the whole life cycle of a plant. So, keeping your orchid near fruit can cause it to accelerate through its life cycle, wilting much earlier than you’d want it to.