Perhaps you picked one up at your local grocery store to dress up your kitchen bench or vanity when you last entertained, or maybe a friend brought you a potted orchid as a gift. A little down the track however, things are looking a little grim...
A phalaenopsis orchid is quite easy to look after once you get a few things right. Like a little old lady sitting in the sun on the front patio, once your orchid is in a comfortable spot you can both sit back and enjoy the view.
Here’s what it needs:
1. The right position
The best place to keep an orchid in your house is in a position with bright, filtered natural light. Direct sunlight is too harsh for the delicate blooms and the roots tend to dry out too quickly.
2. The right temperature
Think Goldilocks – “not too hot, not too cold” – the right temperature for an orchid sits at about 23 degrees Celsius to provide a temperate climate for your orchid to thrive and flower.
3. Air flow
Again think of your Granny – nice air flow but not too much of a breeze, certainly no direct heating (particularly dry heat from a heater or airconditioner) but fresh warm air to keep her curls (blooms) intact.
4. Trim spent flowers
Like any flowering plant, an orchid needs to regroup and recharge once it’s produced a flourish of blooms, so any spent flowers should be removed by a snipping the stem just below where the last flower grew from. Take care to keep the little bump below as this ‘node’ will provide new growth.
5. The right amount of water
Straight from the tap, a light water at room temperature once a week is all your orchid needs. Ideally the mossy substance surrounding the orchid roots should not be allowed to dry out completely. Water straight to the roots, avoiding the leaves and ensure good drainage so you don’t let it sit in water in the pot. A gentle poke to the root bed to ensure it remains damp is a good practice as you walk by.
The occasional mist with a water spray is also a nice touch to extend the life of the flowers.
6. Feed and fertilise
All plants need fertiliser to help them grow as they use up all the surrounding nutrients in the soil (in this case, bark and/or moss). Liquid fertiliser to feed your orchid tends to work well with orchids but slow-release is fine too if you have your watering down pat.
7. Repot occasionally
Once a year or 18months, fluff the cushions and give your orchid a little room to move around. Choose a pot that’s a little bigger and a fresh batch of orchid potting mix from your local nursery. Be gentle with the roots as you move the plant across and leave a little room at the top of the pot for watering.
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