Phalaenopsis hieroglyphica

Phalaenopsis hieroglyphica

Phalaenopsis aphrodite

Phalaenopsis aphrodite

Pronunciation: fail-eh-NOP-sis

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Orchidaceae
  • Subfamily: Epidendroideae
  • Tribe: Vandeae
  • Subtribe: Aeridinae
  • Alliance: Phalaenopsis Blume
  • Genus: Phalaenopsis, Blume 1825

General Characteristics

  • epiphytic
  • monopodial
  • thick and fleshy, elliptical leaves
  • no pseudobulbs

The species can be classified into two groups:

  • A group with a long, branched inflorescence, up to 1 m long, and large, almost round flowers with rose or white tints.
  • A group with short stems, and less rounded, waxy flowers with more pronounced colors.

Phalaenopsis is a genus of approximately 60 species of orchids. The abbreviation in the horticultural trade is Phal. Through the development of many artificial hybrids, Phalaenopsis has become one of the most popular orchids in the trade.

The generic name means “Phalaena-like” and is probably a reference to the genus Phalaena, the name given by Linnaeus to a group of large moths. The flowers of some species supposedly resemble moths in flight, and for this reason, the species are sometimes called Moth orchids.

They are native throughout southeast Asia from the Himalayan mountains to the islands of Polillo and Palawan of the Philippines and northern Australia.

Most are epiphytic shade plants; a few are lithophytes. In the wild they are typically found below the canopies of moist and humid lowland forests, protected against direct sunlight, but equally in seasonally dry or cool environments. The species have adapted individually to these three habitats.

Phalaenopsis shows a monopodial growth habit. An erect growing rhizome produces from the top one or two alternate, thick and fleshy, elliptical leaves each year. The older, basal leaves drop off at the same rate. The plant retains in this way four to five leaves. If very healthy, they can have up to ten or more leaves. They have no pseudobulbs. The raceme appears from the stem between the leaves. They bloom in their full glory for several weeks. If kept in the home, they usually last two to three months.


  • Temperature: Warm conditions. 65˚F at night, 85-90˚F during the day. For subgenus Aphyllae and Parishianae, species do best under cool to intermediate conditions of 55˚F at night , 75˚F during the day.
  • Light: Bright, but no direct sunlight. (between 1,000 to 1,200 footcandles)
  • Water & Humidity: Water when almost dry. Ideal humidity is in the 50% range. For increased humidity maintain good air movement.
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize every time they are watered with a balanced fertilizer at half the recommended strength. Flush with pure water every fourth time.
  • Potting: Pot every year in late Spring or early Summer after they finish blooming. Use Sphagnum Moss in warm and humid areas and bark-type mixes in cooler and dryer environments. Use a tight-fitted pot or container as Phalaenopsis do not like to be over potted.


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