The moth orchid (Phalaenopsis) is one of the most common orchids. Its popularity can be traced to the plant's elegant long-lasting flowers and ease of maintenance. The almost 60 species are responsible for the thousands of hybrids available today. In Latin, the word phalaen refers to a moth, opsis to an appearance. It has been said that a cluster of these flowers at dusk resembles a group of fluttering moths. The plant's large rounded petals lie flat, allowing the intricate lip -- with two wispy tails -- to gain attention. Moth orchids have been bred in a multitude of colors and combinations, including lavender, peach, pink, white and yellow as well as with stripes and spots. The plant grows as an epiphyte in the lower canopy, protected from direct sunlight. In the home, the ideal location is a window with eastern or southern exposure and protection from direct sun. Watering intervals depend on the plant's growing medium. The mix should be allowed to dry slightly before the next watering. After the last flower fades, the stem should be cut just above the first node, under where the first flower opened. Often, a second spike will form from this node and develop into a second flush of flowers. Moth orchids "flutter" throughout the Orchid Forest at the Franklin Park Conservatory.
-- Dave Brigner Franklin Park Conservatory