Orchids

Orchids are very popular as indoor flowering plants. Some, such as moth orchids, can spend their days indoors while others such as dendrobiums, can be brought inside to a brightly lit position while they flower but need to spend most of their time outside in a sheltered spot. Orchids also do well in conservatories and glasshouses. Miniature orchids may be grown in terrariums.

They come in all shapes, sizes and colours and are grown for their bold and usually long-lasting flowers. Check out local orchid shows for advice on choosing and growing orchids or visit your local hardware or garden centre. Use these plants to brighten indoor and outdoor spaces and add an exotic touch. Orchids also appeal to plant collectors and make excellent gift plants.

Most orchids are grown in containers with drainage holes in the base. Orchids can also be grown in hanging baskets. Upside down orchids (Stanhopea spp.) are grown in a hanging basket that allows the flowers to grow from the base of the plant. Some can also be grown mounted on boards or trunks.
Popular orchids include moth orchids (Phalaenopsis), cattleya orchids (Cattleya), cymbidium orchids (Cymbidium), rock lilies (Dendrobium speciosum) and other dendrobiums (Dendrobium spp.) and dancing lady orchids (Oncidium).

Growing conditions

Aspect Most orchids that are grown or displayed indoors need a bright location out of direct sunlight. Orchids that grow in positions that are too poorly lit (for example away from windows) will fail to thrive or flower. Provide a spot thatโ€™s warm in winter, sheltered from drafts and brightly lit all year such as a room with large north-facing windows, glasshouse, conservatory or fernery.

Soil Orchids grow in specially formulated bark mixes that provide excellent drainage. Use specialist mixes to grow orchids.

Climate There are orchids for all climates but the best choice indoors is the moth orchid. Most other orchids should be treated as temporary indoor plants.

General care

Watering Water regularly but allow water to drain from the containers. Also regularly clean leaves to keep them dust free.

Feeding and mulching Most orchids respond to feeding during growth and bud development. Use a controlled release fertiliser such as PowerFeed Controlled Release for Flowers, Fruit & Citrus and supplement with a liquid food every month with PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Roses & Flowers or PowerFeed All Purpose including Natives.

Pruning and on-going care Orchids need to be groomed to remove dead or diseased leaves removing them cleanly from the base of the plant. They are also deadheaded to remove spent flowers and flower stems. For moth orchids cut the flowered stem above a growth point to encourage new growth. For cymbidium, dendrobium and other clumping orchids remove the flower stem cutting it off at its base.

Repot when the plant outgrows its space (usually only every two to three years). This is also a good time to propagate orchids by division of an existing clump.

Watch out Orchids usually grow without too much trouble but can be attacked by caterpillars (foliage), aphids (check new growth and the backs of flowers), snails and slugs (outdoor pots brought indoors โ€“ check carefully before bringing plants indoors) and other pests of indoor plants such as mealy bug (check around the base of plants), scale (check backs of leaves) and fungal gnats (treat potting mix). Treat pests with EarthCare Natural Pyrethrum insect spray. Remember to spray both sides of the foliage. Repeat applications may be necessary in 14 day.

One specialist orchid pest is the orchid beetle, an orange and black beetle, which can leave chewed and ragged leaves. Check through the plant and remove any beetles by hand). Where possible squash pests or use an organic treatment following the instructions on the container.

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