White moth orchids (Phaleanopsis spp) are an absolute favourite indoor plant for me. I love their clean simple elegance and long flowering time and, if you find the right spot for them, they will continue to reward you with flowers for years to come. I always wanted to have masses of them but they are so expensive to buy and there didn’t seem to be any way to propagate them.
I read that you could take leaf cuttings if you exposed the cut edge to steam to induce growth. Someone might have got that to work but I certainly couldn’t!
Well I can now report that I have successfully managed to divide a moth orchid and have 2 healthy plants.
You do have to be a bit patient to start with as you will need an older plant that has grown upwards producing lots of leaves, creating a ‘trunk’. It will work best if it has also produced aerial roots from further up the ‘trunk’. Using a sharp knife, cut the ‘trunk’ in half horizontally making sure that the top half has some aerial roots. Plant this top half into some dampened orchid potting mix – if it doesn’t have good roots you may want to put it into damp sphagnum moss first. My ‘top half’ looked really happy right from the start and very quickly started producing new leaves.
The bottom half should continue to grow. I was a bit concerned about this as I hadn’t made a particularly clean cut and I couldn’t figure out how or where it would grow. But it had good roots so I just left it with the other orchids hoping that eventually something would happen – and was delighted to see a little plantlet appearing off the side of the two big leaves that had been left. This now has 2 little leaves and once it gets a bit bigger I can probably cut off the older (very tatty) leaves so that the ‘new plant’ can grow up.