Moth Orchid

I got one of these plants for Valentine's Day. Hubby bought it at Lowe's and the lable also called it "Orquidea De la Polilla" and "Phalaenopsis amabilis." While googling Phalaenopsis, most varieties seemed to be white, and this one has purple flowers.
The tag for its care mentioned bright light and to keep it moist. One site said to keep it on a tray of pebbles (with water) and in an eastern window. Right now the plant is on a table close to a southern window with no pebbles.
This house is dry and not warm in winter. I turn the heat down to 60F every night and up to 65F each day. Yeah, we wear sweaters a lot. Today the humidity outside is 40%, but's it's often drier indoors with the heating, obviously.
I guess I can kill this plant within the year and get a full refund from Lowe's, but I sort of like it and would like to keep it around for longer. I will put it on a tray of pebbles so it gets more humidity. I don't have a mister here as most of my plants are succulents and don't need misting. Should I buy a mister and use it daily? (now that sounds raunchy!)
I can put this in an eastern window but the heat would drop down very low at night, as heavy drapes are closed on the window at night and this poor plant would be caught between the window and the drapes. It gets to 20F some nights here. Or I could keep it on its table by the southern window where it might only get some direct sun for an hour or so at this season and it wouldn't be on a windowsill to catch a chill. Or, I could place it in a southern window made of glass bricks with no curtains. I sort of like the last idea, but it would have to share the niche with a fingers jade (monstrose Crassula) that has no other place to go.
So, can this plant be kept? Any of you have any experience with this type of flora?
TIA
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On Sat, 19 Feb 2005 17:05:15 -0800, Karen wrote:

A humidifier would help.

A south window is fine just keep the direct sun off of it. BRIGHT light.

You'll do fine with it. Keep the potting mix slightly moist, bright light and you'll be just fine.
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I have several "moth" orchids. I let them go dry between waterings. they are also potted in sphagnum moss...not soil. Bark chips are also fine for potting media. There is a newsgroup devoted just to orchids. You may want to ask there.
Bonnie
On Sat, 19 Feb 2005 17:05:15 -0800, Karen wrote:

A humidifier would help.

A south window is fine just keep the direct sun off of it. BRIGHT light.

You'll do fine with it. Keep the potting mix slightly moist, bright light and you'll be just fine.
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I kept a phalaenopsis for many years. I bought it for about $1 at an orchid show when the plant was a small seedling with only two leaves. After it grew up, it flowered many times for several years.
Phalaenopsis actually prefer cool temperatures at night. Your 60F is just right. They do want warmer daytime temperatures, about 70-75. They like strong INDIRECT light. I kept mine in a northern greenhouse window. Since my house is not square on the compass, the plant got some early morning sunshine in the summer, filtered through shade cloth.
I planted it in small bark chips in a clay flower pot. They need constant moisture but cannot take truly wet soil. The bark chips hold moisture but have perfect drainage. With the watering and feeding schedule below, actual soil is not needed. I set the pot in a large saucer on pea gravel. I kept water in the saucer to the top of the gravel to maintain moisture. If the pot is large enough, it's okay if the water in the saucer touches the bottom of the pot.
Water the plant once a week. Hold the pot over a sink. Block the drain hole with your thumb or finger. Pour water into the bark until the water level is at the top of the bark. Then let all the water drain out into the sink.
Every other week, feed when you water. Buy some commercial orchid food. Mix it into the water before watering. If you have mix left over, just pour it through the bark and let it run out into the sink.
Be very careful when you water. DO NOT ALLOW WATER TO GET INTO THE CENTER OF THE PLANT!! The plant will rot and die if even a small drop of water reaches the center. That's how I lost my plant. I was watering, and a drop bounced off a piece of bark and landed on a leaf. Before I could blot it up, the drop ran down the crease in the center of the leaf and into the crown. Within a month, the plant was dead.
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David E. Ross
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I dunno- I have many of these naturalized in tree crotches and I just turn the water hose on the lot of 'em. When I first began collecting orchids I coddled them and had loads of problems. When I started tying them into trees and neglecting them is when I started having lots better results- healthier plants and many more blooms.
So in my experience (in my climate at any rate) the less pampering the better.
Toni Carroll South Florida USA Zone 10
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Thank you all for your advice!
This orchid has 4 leaves . It is sitting next to the jade in the glass brick window for now. It seems to have been potted in spagnum from what I can tell, and is keeping moist after I watered it several days ago. I haven't killed it yet : )
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Toni wrote:

What you describe does indeed work for many orchids. However, I was told that phalaenopsis in particular is sensitive to getting the crown wet.
Otherwise, my plant was quite happy with the same temperature and light as my other house plants. And it was watered at about the same frequency. I held the pot over the kitchen sink and filled the pot with water because that was the only way I could get the bark chips wet without flooding the floor of my breakfast room, where I have my greenhouse window. Note that the window is not a true greenhouse as it is open to the breakfast room.
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David E. Ross
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On Sun, 20 Feb 2005 22:19:56 -0800, David Ross wrote:

They are. However outside they will dry faster therefore stopping crown rot. Plus, they hang more at an angle if I'm not mistaken which tends to drain out the water from the crown....
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That explains it <g> Heaven knows that mine are not mounted level!
Toni Carroll South Florida USA Zone 10
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Phaels do better in a north or east window. direct sun burns the leaves. they are used to a canopy over them with filtered light in high sun areas of tropics. it wont do well in the same window as a jade. Phaels do better on a slant to prevent the collection of water in their crowns. normally it wont hurt BUT if the water washes off a plant with bacterial rot that will cause the crown to rot. spray is better than watering and aim for the pot and roots. however, there are copper type antifungal, and I been told on this group a sprinkling with cinnamon would also prevent fungus. The major problem people have with phaels is over watering. bark is much better, and never ever let them stand in water or they will rot. orchids are great for people who are gone for a month at a time. they do great without watering. something else works really well is having a fan going in the room to circulate the air. Phaels are easy. Ingrid

DO NOT ALLOW WATER TO GET INTO THE

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