Top tips on orchid care from the experts

ORCHIDS are easy to look after according to award-winning grower Chris Channon.

Chris, a Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) gold medallist, who works with one of the UK’s leading suppliers of plant nutrients, Growth Technology, said: “You just need to follow a few simple rules.

“Don’t over water. More orchids are killed by over watering than anything else, so it’s important that you leave an orchid until the roots and compost are almost dry before re-watering.

“Orchids require a quality, non ureic feed, however it’s important to water between feeds. They don’t like salt buildup in their growing medium so it’s vital to flush the medium with water before feeding again to avoid any build up”.

“In the wild orchids grow under the jungle canopy in partial shade so it’s important to keep them out of direct sunlight.”

Most orchids sold are phalaenopsis and these are the best starter orchids for the home.

Encouraging a phalaenopsis to re-flower is easy when following these guidelines:

1) The flowers eventually die and when two or three remain, cut the flower spike above the top un-flowered stem node. The resulting side stem will flower three months later for several months. This process is repeated at nodes down the stem until a node proves non-viable.

2) When a node is non-viable or the spike dies back, cut the spike off at its base just above the plant. It is particularly important at this time that a bloom feed is used to promote a new flower spike.

Re-potting, or changing the growing medium, is important in maintaining a healthy plant. This is done the spring after purchase, then every second spring. Phalaenopsis remain in the same size pot. Other types may require a larger pot. Use a bark and/or coir-based medium and avoid those containing peat/soil. Use clear orchid pots with plenty of base holes to allow good drainage and air flow through the pot. Clear pots allow sight of the root system and compost, aiding correct watering and also promoting photosynthesis within the roots.

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