Phalaenopsis or moth orchids are some of the most popular orchids around. If you received an orchid gift, chances are you received a Phalaenopsis.
Phalaenopsis orchids are easy to care for. They are also relatively cheap orchids to buy, as they are so easily available even in grocery stores. But many people think it is hard to take care of these plants, when in fact these are some of the easiest orchids to take care of. If anything, you can kill these plants with too much love (i.e., overwatering). It's really easy to take care of a Phalaeopsis orchid, as this article explains.
Keep the orchid indoors during the winter months if you live in a cold climate. General rule of thumb is to keep the plant inside as long as the temperature can dip below about 55F. During the warm weather, you can keep them outside.
Make sure the plant gets plenty of light, but not direct sunlight, except maybe some early morning sunlight when the sun is not yet too strong. This might mean placing them near an east facing window if indoors, or under the shade of a bigger plant or tree outdoors. Phalaenopsis orchids love light (which is essential for them to produce lots of blooms), just not direct sunlight which tends to burn up the leaves. Indoors, you can also supplement natural light with orchid lights, which could be cheap fluorescent full-spectrum lights (Phillips Natural Sunshine bulbs available at Home Depot work well).
Grow the plant in a relatively large pot where there is lots of room for their roots to spread, as they have aerial roots. Use a bark based orchid potting mix, which you can get at any garden store. Pack in the roots loosely, as they don't like to be smothered. Over time, some of the roots will grow outside the pot; that is fine. Repot about every two years, or earlier if the mix appears to be breaking down or rotting, or the plant starts to look sickly.
Water about once a week, or more frequently in a very dry environment. You want to water the plant so as to thoroughly soak the roots and potting mix, but then give them time to dry out. Phalaenopsis orchids don't like to be soaked or humid all the time, which can cause them to rot out. Mix in some orchid fertilizer into the water every couple of weeks or so at the recommended dose. You can use a spray bottle to mist the roots that are not contained in the pot, as well as in between waterings if the plant is in a very dry environment.
Keep the plant in an area with good air circulation. You can suspend the pot from a tree branch outdoors, or keep it on a rack indoors.
If you follow these instructions, your Phalaenopsis orchid will flourish and produce beautiful orchid flowers year after year!