Phalaenopsis schilleriana Orchid Care & Culture

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Species Name: Phalaenopsis schilleriana

Care Group: See Phalaenopsis Orchid Caresheet

Habitat of schilleriana & Inferred Cultural Tips

Elevation: 450m
Distribution: Philippines
Other Phalaenopsis species from this area: amabilis, philippinensis, sanderiana, stuartiana, micholitzii, hieroglyphica, pallens, fasciata, mariae, reichenbachiana, pulchra, bastianii, equestris
Temperature: Warm to Hot (Days: 27–35C, Nights: 18–24C)
Seasonal Variation: Yes – Dry, Cool, & Bright Winters

Flowering Habit of Phal schilleriana

Spike Initiation: Cool Spiker – Temps (15–17C Nights)
Bloom Time: Late January
Fragrant: Sometimes. It seems many varieties are not fragrant, but mine is—smells like powdery roses

Phal schilleriana Overview

Phalaenopsis schilleriana is a captivating orchid species that has captured the hearts of orchid enthusiasts worldwide. While the Phalaenopsis genus is often referred to as the “moth orchid,” this species in particular has flowers that exhibit an alluring, delicate appearance that perfectly embodies that name. These sometimes fragrant flowers, paired with the plant’s vigorous growth, make it a popular choice among orchid collections.

But it’s not just the flowers that make Phalaenopsis schilleriana so desirable. The leaves are a sight to behold. Featuring unique mottled-leaf banding and intricate patterns, the leaves of this orchid stand out even when the plant is not in bloom. The striking foliage adds an extra layer of appeal, setting it apart from other orchids in any collection.

The more common banded-leaf varieties of P. schillerinana are found in Luzon and across the smaller islands surrounding the Philippine Archipelago. However, the variety I have is often referred to as the ‘Silver-Leaf’ schilleriana. This variant, is believed to be native to the Sabah region of Malaysia, and the leaves have nearly no banding and instead are fully mottled and silver.

Whether you’re a seasoned orchid collector or new to the world of these exotic plants, the Phalaenopsis schilleriana is sure to become a cherished favorite in your indoor garden.


Phalaenopsis schilleriana Care

Potting mix – Phal schilleriana grows as an epiphyte attached to trees and what is unique about this species is that it’s from the Philippines which experience a seasonal cool and dry period. That means P. schilleriana is uniquely adapted to somewhat drier conditions and the roots require ample airflow without prolonged wetness. An open and airy potting media works best and you’ll specifically want to achieve sharp wet/dry cycles where the roots aren’t moist for more than 48-36h at a time. Some sphagnum can be used to help retain moisture in dry climates, but do so at a lower ratio (<20%). If using pure sphagnum moss, beware of it’s limitations and always repot on time as the degradation and acidification can result in fungal issues and leaf spot on this species. It is likely not a good candidate for water culture or semihydro.

This is one of the few phals I own that grows very long roots in my dry climate. Most other species tend to seek the moist media in an effort to stay hydrated but will abort if they don’t get to the moist potting mix. Phal schilleriana on the other hand seems well adapted to dry conditions and the roots (which are well over a foot long) will continue growing year after year. This leads me to believe they are specifically adapted to dryness and likely are not well adapted to excessively-moist conditions.

When I have tried to keep them consistently moist or when the media became acidic, I experienced root die-back.

Light – This species seems to appreciate more light compared to most orchids. I grow my phal schilleriana in the brightest area of bedroom where it gets up to about 25–35% filtered direct sun (or about 2,500 footcandles). That’s quite bright compared to what is typically recommended for phalaenopsis, but their mottled leaves are an adaptation to withstand more intense light and under lower light, you may find the mottling fades to a near solid green. The plant sits on the left side of my East-facing window and it gets full sun until nearly noon. Please understand: my windows are made for Canadian winters and therefore reduce a substantial amount of “direct sun” intensity. While my plant grows in bright light it is not equivalent to “full sun.” Be mindful of these concepts and considerations when evaluating conditions for your own plants.

In the winter, the light we get is shorter and less intense, so even though this plant grows at an east-facing window, it also gets artificial LED growlight in the afternoon, after the sun passes over the building and the plants are in the shade. The grow lights are on from 12-5pm.

Watering – Phal schilleriana responds well to distinct wet/dry cycles. You ideally want the roots in the pot to be fully dry within 3-5 days allowing them to have a couple days of being bone dry before watering again. When you water, irrigate the roots abundantly and drench all roots taking time to spray down the dry and exposed roots as well as the ones in the pot.

You might find it’s helpful to soak the pot and roots for up to 20 minutes; however, just make sure that after you are done watering/soaking, that the pot is not left to sit in any residual water that drains. Roots which stay too wet for prolonged periods of time may rot easily.

Longer leaves & pH – Back when I first started experimenting with pH and adjusting my tap water from 7.9 down to 5.8, the phal schilleriana responded the most profoundly compared to any other plant I experimented with. In a single season the next set of leaves doubled their length from the ones grown before I started pH-adjusting. When the media got too acidic though, the root died back, so I’m not suggesting that you’ll need to adjust pH. Just beware that pH can affect plant growth and too much acidity can be detrimental.

Flowering – Phal schilleriana is a winter spiking phalaenopsis and will require cool temps for spike initiation. They are so seasonally specific and my schilleriana has flowered in February for over 5 years. They respond well to prolonged cooling down to about 16c (nights) during spike and bud development; but do not confuse this—the plants are still tropical plants, they do not want COLD temps. A slight cooling in the winter simply triggers flower development and indicates a change in season is coming.

Spike development is slow and takes between 3.5-4.5 months from first spike to open flowers. Keeping your temperatures on the cooler end (16-18c) will mean more flowers, but slower spike growth. Flowers last about 4-8 weeks.

Flower Count: over 5 years my plant produced more flowers each year, up to 57 in 2022. However, in 2023 my culture/care was less optimal (skipped waterings, messing around too much with pH, etc) and the flower (and leaf) count dropped by about half. These are the increases I saw over the years: (2018) 14 flowers on one spike ; (2019) 27 flowers on 2 spikes; (2020) 35 flowers on two spikes; (2021) 41 flowers on 2 spikes; (2022) 57 flowers on 2 spikes; (2023) I would guess about 40 flowers on 3 spikes (but I didn’t count). The plant has the potential to have hundreds of blooms and specimen-sized plants can make an impressive display.


Phalaenopsis schilleriana Photos

I didn’t count the number of flowers this year…oops, April 2023


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A new record with 57 flowers, Feb 2022


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A new record with 41 flowers, Feb 2021


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A new record with 35 flowers, Feb 2020

Phal schilleriana Winter 2019


Phal schilleriana Summer 2018
(when I started pH adjusting – you can see the change in leaf length)
Phal schilleriana 2018
Phal schilleriana Spring 2017
(This was the year I got the plant)

Newly purchased Phal schilleriana – Apr 7, 2017

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