Look after your orchids this winter and they’ll reward you by bouncing back with fresh flower spikes and another long season of beautiful tropical flowers.
Orchids make wonderful Christmas presents, especially varieties like Phalaenopsis or moth orchids which are more easy-going and reliable. In the wild, orchids live in forests in south-east Asia where they live up in trees drawing moisture from the air, giving you lots of clues about the conditions they need.
High humidity (damp air) is really important to orchids, so they need regular misting. Temperatures should ideally be a balmy 15-24°C; and orchids prefer part shade, like their natural woodland habitat, so they suffer on bright sunny windowsills.
If you’re lucky enough to receive a moth orchid for Christmas, it’ll likely be in flower already as these lovely plants flower generously throughout winter. Once the flower spike has finished, cut it back just above a healthy join to encourage more blooms. If your orchid is slow to flower again, try reducing the temperature by 5°C for a few weeks.
Every few years, repot your orchid into a clear container: orchids can use their roots a little like leaves to take in energy from the sun so it’s important not to cover them up. Leave aerial roots emerging above the compost unburied too. When repotting, use a specialist orchid compost (available here at the garden centre in Swarkestone) which mimics the open, low-nutrient growing conditions the plant likes in the wild, rooted into the bark of trees.
Water your plant a little less in winter than in summer, using tepid water from a boiled kettle and watering from below – stand the pot in water for about 20 minutes, then remove and leave to drain. Feed occasionally with specialist orchid feed, and your plant will burst in to breathtakingly exotic flower again for years to come.