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Pay Attention to Lighting when Displaying Phalaenopsis Orchids

November 16, 2010

In the wild, phalaenopsis orchids thrive in a wide variety of environments. Many of the world’s most unusual and beautiful orchids are most at home in the dim, misty environs of tropical rain forests. These orchids root high above the ground in the organic matter that collects in the crooks of the tall trees that screen the harsh sunlight and turn the torrid rains into a steady, gentle drip. But there are orchids that thrive in temperate woodland forests and in the dry air of shady mountain outcrops. No matter where they grow, most orchid plants have similar light requirements and are at their best when shaded from bright sunlight.

Generally, phalaenopsis orchids are too delicate to survive in harsh or hot light. While their fleshy petals, stems and roots are designed to store water, orchids require a steady influx of moisture. Bright sunlight can rob orchids of their water supply too quickly, stressing the orchid and causing it to fail.

Most phalaenopsis orchid plants do best in filtered or low light. This is the reason Just Add Ice Orchids do equally well in home and office settings. The incandescent/CFS lighting typical in homes and the fluorescent lighting used in office buildings replicate the soft, dappled sunlight in which orchids thrive in nature. Phalaenopsis orchids should not be placed where they will cook in direct sunlight for long periods of time. Covering sunny windows with sheer curtains will soften light appropriately.

In choosing a location to display your Phalaenopsis orchid, you can use a simple shadow test to gauge light levels. Place your hand between the orchid and the light source and observe the shadow it casts.

  • A sharp shadow indicates a high light location. You may want to relocate your orchid or modify the area with a screen, curtain or blind to soften the light.
  • A fuzzy, indistinct shadow indicates a low light location, perfect for orchid lighting.