An Orchid for Life
Who doesn’t leave IKEA without a £5 Phalaenopsis orchid? I used to always buy one thinking it is cheaper than a bunch of flowers, and will last longer – at least as long as the gap between my IKEA visits when I can then just buy another. But this is just another example of the perniciousness of our throw-away society and how it affects everyday thinking and living. So, I’m on my guard against it, and looking after my orchids for a bit longer – apparently they can last twenty odd years!
I’ll post below how I have maintained my orchids, but first some pics – here is a white Phalaenopsis that I successfully cut back and repotted last autumn, and which is just coming back in to bloom again now.
You would not recognise this as the same orchid that I was all ready to throw out after its last flowering – there were roots all over the place (outside of the pot), it had stopped flowering, but there was a baby orchid sprouting half way up a stem – it looked a right mess! Here’s what I did:
I cut off that baby orchid with a sharp knife that I had sterilised (simply by holding it over a naked flame and then rinsing in boiling water) then stuck its roots into a pot of orchid compost. I never thought it would take, but it did, and lo and behold a few months later I’ve got a whole new orchid ready to flower:
These baby orchids attached to their parents are called Keiki, but I get confused and call them Kesia after another little (human) baby that was born around the same time as this one was repotted!
Mummy orchid I repotted into a larger pot, and cut the stems back to just above a node. This, alongside regular maintenance, seems to have done the trick (with this and my other pink one, which has only just received its pruning).
The advice I have followed to keep my orchids in shape are as follows:
- Only water once a week, and do so by taking the pot off its saucer, placing in the sink, and giving it a good dowsing. When all the water has seeped though the pot, place back on its saucer, and that is it for next week (or until the compost is dry again)
- Pot in clear pots – they are not that pretty, but apparently the roots like to get a bit of light. I’m on the look out for some wire baskets to place the clear pots in, so they will still get the light but look a bit more aesthetically pleasing.
- Use special orchid compost when repotting. I bought mine in Lidl’s – cheap as chips!
- Feed using a specialist orchid feed, but only during the growing season (usually spring and summer) and when the orchid is in bloom. I’ve done this every other week. I also use an Orchid Myst Sprayer that keeps the leaves looking lovely and healthy.
- Cut back the flowering stems after the flowers have dropped to above a node, and repot after flowering if the existing pot is too small for all the new roots that have formed.
And that’s it. It’s really not a lot of work – weekly watering and a teeny bit of TLC at the end of the flowering season, and you should have an orchid for life. And the excitement of seeing your flower babies grow and bloom is so much more than the excitement of putting a new £5 one in your trolley! There should be a new mantra: an orchid is for life, not just for IKEA.
I’m joining some other bloggers in thinking about how we might be better at green living in 2016, though the choices we make, including ethical clothing, and sustainable interior design. What can you do to swell the tide of our disposable culture?
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