Monkeyface orchids are cool little plants that come in a variety of colors. They’re also cold-growing, which means they don’t need an enormous amount of heat to thrive. These factors make them popular houseplants, especially among people who have trouble growing other types of orchids.
They can be pretty easy to care for, provided you meet their minimal needs. Keep reading for the basic information you’ll need to keep your monkey face healthy and happy.
- Scientific names and common names: Mnemophyllum watsonii, monkey face orchid
- Origin: native to South and Central America
- Indoor or Outdoor Plant: Indoor
- Height and Structure: Monkeyface orchids are epiphytes, which means they attach to trees for support. They can reach heights of 2 feet.
- Temperature: Warm to cool, no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit
- Flowers: green, blue, red, yellow
The best time to plant a new monkey face is during spring or autumn when the temperatures are between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want an even easier planting option, you can leave it in its pot and put it back in a warm spot in your home when the weather starts to cool down.
Be sure to take it outside before the first frost, though. It’s not hard to coax it back into bloom, but before the temperature drops below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, you should do so. Ensure you plant your orchid at the same level that it was in its original pot.
Your monkeyflower will be happiest when other plants crowd it because its roots are quite shallow. Keep its companions close or pinch off small sections of your plant to keep them in bounds.
If you plan on moving your monkeyflower outside for the summer, cut back its water and fertilizer until new growth appears in mid-July. Bring it indoors again before frost strikes in the fall.
The soil you use for your monkey face orchid should be made of a mixture of dappled leaves, peat moss or sphagnum, and perlite. Only mix in enough to make the soil slightly more dense than its original state.
Add in some charcoal if you want to ensure that the plant will thrive for years. The soil should dry out between watering, but avoid letting it get bone-dry.
Keep this vine in full sun or partial shade year-round, but it thrives when it’s exposed to 15 hours of sunlight every day. Because it produces flowers only once a year, you can move its container outdoors after blooming has finished and keep it there until September, then bring it back inside for the winter months.
Give your plant as much direct sunlight as possible because dim light weakens its leaves and makes them turn yellow. Place the pot near a southern-facing window during the summer if necessary.
Monkey flowers can live in temperatures as low as 40 degrees and as high as 100 degrees, but 50 to 80 degrees is ideal for growing them well indoors.
If your plant begins to droop or its leaves turn yellow, it’s likely because the temperature in your home has dropped below this safe range. If you don’t have access to a greenhouse where it can flourish year-round, move your orchid into an unheated garage after frost sets in and then bring it back inside around May.
Your monkeyflower needs to grow in a warm place where it gets plenty of indirect sunlight and humidity. It can stand direct sunlight, but you’ll need to mist it with water every morning.
Place your plant near a pebble tray filled with water for extra humidity. Your orchid must be elevated off the ground on a moss pole or hanging from its pseudobulbs because these allow air to circulate its roots.
Your plant requires eight hours of light per day when it grows in the spring, but only six when it’s not actively growing. Keep an eye out for black spots that form on the leaves during winter months because this could signal cold damage. If you see any, move your plant into a spot with less light.
If you notice that your orchid is leaning towards the light, try pushing the base of its pseudobulbs away from it. If this doesn’t help, use a wooden stake to attach it to something sturdy. You can also grow new vines on top of existing ones by removing their leaves and planting them in peat moss. It’s best to let the plant grow naturally without any extra help, though, so don’t go overboard with staking!
Monkeyface orchids require light and regular watering with room temperature water. A humid environment can encourage diseases, so it’s best not to mist them. If you live in an area where the humidity is low, consider running a humidifier near your plants during the winter months when they experience decreased moisture in the air.
Otherwise, keep their soil moist but not soggy. Sprinkle them with water once a week. It’s also best to use filtered water to reduce the possibility of chlorine damage. Remember that they need high humidity but can’t stand excess moisture on their leaves or pseudobulbs.
Monkeyface orchids are heavy feeders, so you’ll want to fertilize them regularly if they’re not in bloom. It’s best to wait until the plant is finished blooming for the year before fertilizing it. When appropriate, mix some slow-release fertilizer into your potting medium according to the instructions on its packaging.
Since monkey orchids grow quickly between blooms, don’t use more than one-third of the recommended dosage of fertilizer at a time. If you have any questions regarding application rates, check with an experienced grower in a local nursery or garden center. You should see new growth within a couple of weeks of fertilizing your plant.
Monkey flowers can survive in a humidity level of 40 to 60 percent, but ideally, you should aim for 50 percent or more. If your home is too dry, place one or two basins of water near the plant so they’ll evaporate and boost the moisture level of the air around it.
Keep an eye on these basins once a week because if their water levels run low, add more to keep them from drying up completely. You can also use humidifiers to raise the humidity level in your home. If you want to repot your monkeyflower into a bark-moss mix, go ahead and do so. It will flourish if kept between 40 and 80 percent humidity indoors.
If you don’t have a green thumb, simple mulching can help you keep your orchid alive. Just buy some loose bark chips from your local garden center and spread them around the base of your plant, so they cover its roots.
This will help keep it moist during dry seasons while preventing weeds from sprouting in its pot. If the weather turns cold, remove the mulch, so it doesn’t attract rodents to your plant. It would be best if you also cleaned out dead leaves that fall into its pot to allow airflow between the bark chips when spring comes again.
It’s only necessary to cut away dead vines from your plant to keep it looking tidy, but you should always prune your orchid before it flowers. You can pinch off the end of any vine that is growing out of place with your fingers but use sharp pruning shears for more severe trimming.
Cut back damaged stems on older plants every year, making sure not to leave behind any live tissue when you’re snipping them. This will allow new growth to emerge. It would help if you also cut off any new sprouts around the base of your plant as soon as they appear because it will crowd out its healthy vines.
Your monkeyflower will need repotting when its roots have filled its pot and begun growing out of the drainage holes at the bottom. Lift it out carefully, then remove any dead vines along their root systems using pruning shears. If you see fine, white roots bulging out of the hole at the bottom of the pot, your plant is ready for a larger home.
You can wash off any outer dust or dirt on its roots with water from a garden hose. Spread a layer of moist sphagnum moss around the root ball and put it back into its old container. Don’t divide your plant until it’s finished growing for that year because repotting will stop any new growth dead in its tracks.
You can propagate your monkeyflower with stem cuttings during the spring. Please choose one of the new pseudobulbs lying close to the main plant and use sharp scissors to remove it above a node. Put this cutting into sphagnum moss, then put it in an area that gets four hours of indirect sunlight per day. Water it with distilled water until its roots form, then give it some time to grow before transplanting it into the new soil.
You’ll need another orchid for this process because most monkeyflowers don’t develop enough growth hormones in their leaves to make them root outside their original pot. If you want to use your plant as a source of growth hormones, wait until it finishes flowering and uses scissors to cut away a small part of your root ball.
Place this in sphagnum moss and store it in an area with indirect sunlight. Water the moss regularly so it doesn’t dry out. As soon as you see new growth on your cutting, separate it from its parent plant and grow it like normal.
Most orchids only produce new growth once a year, and this usually happens in the spring. If your plant is putting out new vines but hasn’t finished growing yet, it’s probably too early to divide it. Please wait until you see buds forming on their old pseudobulbs before you start separating your plant into pieces.
You can separate a new orchid from an older one at any time of the year if the roots are healthy and full of life. Just be sure to handle them with wet gloves so they don’t dry out. Put a few inches of moist sphagnum moss around each section before planting it back into its original pot. Water or misteach piece thoroughly right after transplanting.
Your monkeyflower is susceptible to fungal diseases if its leaves begin to turn yellow, brown, or black. If this happens, trim off these dead vines and spray your plant with a fungicide. You can also pick off any berries that form before they ripen because birds spread fungus when they sit on them.
Treating bacterial leaf spots requires a different approach, but you can prevent them by using filtered water on your plants. Leaf-spotting fungi often enter through cracks in the pseudobulbs, so roughen them up with sandpaper or a nail file before applying fungicide. Insects that feed on orchid leaves include mealybugs, scale, and mites. Rinse them off with water or spray your plant with insecticidal soap.
There are more than 25,000 species of orchids in the world. They’re found everywhere except Antarctica and range from having one leaf to 30 leaves.
Monkey flowers are small, epiphytic orchids that grow in tropical rainforests and coastal scrub regions near the ocean. They’re native to Madagascar and other warm areas of Africa, Asia, and Australia. Their unique flower shapes help them collect water from humid air–a feature you can see when their stalks bend toward open windows on rainy days, after a hot shower or bath.
Another species of monkeyflower, called Phalaenopsis, is one of the most popular orchids in the world. It has long stems and flowers that come in just about every color except blue. You can learn more about this species by visiting our article on how to care for phalaenopsis orchids.
The third member of this family, Dendrobium, is the most common type of “bulb” orchid globally. It’s also a popular gift plant because it comes in different flower colors and forms. It can be grown in a container or mounted on a piece of bark.
Monkey flowers can be companion plants for your other orchids and tropical plants like Brazilian gingers and bananas. They’re also compatible with tropical vines like “heart leaf philodendron,” which you can find at local garden centers. Growing these together will help your monkeyflower thrive and bloom more often.
Monkey flowers rarely cause allergic reactions in humans and pets. If you’re still concerned about having them around, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after you touch one of their leaves. This is also a good idea if you’ve come into direct contact with any other type of orchid.
They may look beautiful, but some types of orchids store poisonous toxins in their leaves that can irritate your skin if you handle them.