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Butterfly orchid care & maintenance

Updated November 21, 2016

Butterfly or Moth orchids come from the Phalaenopsis genus of orchids. Orchids are widely known as difficult and temperamental plants, but this variety is actually quite easy to care for. Named for their resemblance to butterflies or moths, these plants will provide an exotic aesthetic for any gardener looking to add some flair to the garden. Your Butterfly orchid requires some specific care and attention, but growing these plants is certainly achievable for even the novice gardener.

Use the Right Soil

Many (but not all) orchid varieties are native to tropical climates, giving them an exotic reputation. This may intimidate the novice gardener, but recreating a habitat for the Butterfly orchid is easy to achieve. Providing key factors such as warmth, light, and humidity will save you from having to deal with attempting to revive a plant that isn't thriving. There are many types of orchids with different climates and habitats; Make certain that you start with the right soil for the Butterfly orchid, which is an epiphytic plant. Flowershopnetwork.com states that, "In the wild, epiphytic plants (including orchids, bromeliads, anthuriums, and many ferns) live high in the branches of trees where they can benefit from maximum exposure to bright light and fresh air". This is important, because simply planting a Butterfly orchid in regular potting soil will most likely kill it. Instead, they recommend a potting mix of, "bark, crushed charcoal, lava stones, sphagnum moss, or some combination of the above". Novices looking for a more specific blend may refer to Tropical Plants, Flowers, and Decor's suggestion of, "1 part charcoal, 3 parts fibrous peat, 1 part perlite, and 3 parts coarse grit". Any local gardening shop should be able to provide these ingredients.

Provide Constant Humidity

Proper planting material facilitates the second necessity for a healthy orchid: humidity. You'll need to water your orchid thoroughly, and this loose, organic planting medium will allow moisture to drain more efficiently from the root area. Orchids hate wet feet! This will help you to avoid drowning the plant as you provide the humidity it desires. Tropical Plants, Flowers, and Decor suggests that you place your orchid in a pot with a drainage hole in the bottom, and then set this pot over a plate filled with rocks and water poured just to the top of the rock layer. This allows the planting medium to drain while providing a humid base at all times.

Use Fertilizer Consistently

Due to the fibrous nature of orchid planting media, combined with the constant drainage of consistent watering, nutrients will not be readily available without gardener intervention. Flowershopnetwork.com advises that, "orchids should be fed with almost every watering, using a dilute solution of fertiliser, specifically prepared for orchid plants". Your local garden shop will likely have these fertilisers on hand.

Place Butterfly Orchids Near a Window

Though most orchids need lots of bright sunlight to survive, the Butterfly orchid will tolerate partial shade very well, according to Flowershopnetwork.com. Perhaps this is why it is one of the most popular varieties. Placing your orchid indoors near a south facing window, and following the soil and watering guidelines set forth above, should enable you to keep your orchid flowering and thriving for quite a long time.

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