11 Feb 2011

Orchid Maintenance

Buying your first orchid is often accompanied by fear and a sense of dread as, like many beautiful things, they are notoriously high maintenance.

The problem, of course, is that they are tropical plants and their natural habitat is difficult to reproduce at home, however, if you follow this advice your chances should improve.

Light; they love it, they need it, but only north-facing and they abhor drafts; conservatories are ideal but windowsills suffice as long as they’re fairly modern. Importantly, you should never remove it from the pot it was rooted in.

More tricky is their need for only soft water, although, if you live in a hard water area, cooled boiling water can be used as a substitute – it is best to either water with an eggcup of water a week or, to replicate a tropical rainstorm, drench with soft water letting it soak for a minute, dabbing away any water sitting in the area where the leaves cross.

Never cut away the grey, curling aerial roots but once the last of the flowers has fallen off, cut the stem diagonally just above the lowest of the triangular nodes. Once cut, keep it in a north-facing light place, and continue to water weekly, and in time you should see a new stem coming through.

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