Everything You Need To Know About Orchids...Choosing Them, Styling Them and Keeping Them Alive
I can’t write this piece without first issuing a full and frank disclosure about my orchid slaying past. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it happened and I’d like to think I’m making amends for my past wrong doings here.
When I was at university, I worked in a jewellery shop in my spare time (Links of London if you’re interested) and we went through a phase of always having orchids on display in the shop. When the displays changed we’d take it in turns to take the orchid home with us. And without fail, mine were dead within days of crossing the threshold. Looking back now, it was most probably because I over or under watered them but it was enough to ensure I have steered clear of orchids ever since.
That is until I was approached by my friend Sarah Akwisombe to get an orchid styling session. Sarah is the National Ambassador for Orchids in the UK and I thought this could be the perfect opportunity to put my orchid slaying past behind me once and for all and become an orchid raising pro. After all, they’re far too pretty not to have a place in my house. Not to mention the fact that orchids are thought to create a positive atmosphere and to make people feel happier. And we can all do with some of that.
With that in mind, I took the Orchitypes online test twice, once with my dining room in mind and the other with my bathroom in mind. I kid you not, there are over 25,000 different types of orchids, and loads that I had never heard of or seen before. These are some of my faves.
For the dining room, the test paired me with the classic, elegant Phalaenopsis. And for the bathroom, the test selected a real showstopper. The hanging Vanda orchids, which are massive show-offs with trailing roots draped over the shower screen. I’ve never seen anything like them before but they are strangely beautiful set against the black walls and marble.
However styling orchids has never been my problem. It was the rest I needed help with. So I invited Sarah over to the Gold is A Neutral house to give me the lowdown on keeping my new orchid babies happy, healthy…and most importantly, alive.
Here’s what you need to know, according to Sarah aka the Orchid Boss
Water it – The How’s, When’s and What’s
If your orchid comes in it’s original plastic pot, simply place the orchid in a bucket, sink or plate with a couple of inches of water in it. Leave it for 5-10 minutes then drain and pop it back in the pot.
It’s important to leave the plastic pot in place to make sure you don’t damage the roots. It’s also important to make sure the plant dries thoroughly after it’s bath because orchids don’t like wet feet.
Alternatively, if your orchid is in a pot without it’s plastic inner pot, give it a shot! No seriously, that’s not me being a terrible orchid mother again. Pour 60ml of water (the equivalent of a shot glass) in at the side of the root ball. Be careful not to pour the water in the centre, as the leaves will rot.
If you have the hanging version like the ones I have in my bathroom simply spritz the roots with water on a weekly basis.
In Summer, the orchid is thirstier so water once a week. In Winter, once every two weeks is enough. But if you like to have the heating on high and blasting out that heat, it’s advisable for you to keep watering once a week during winter too. This doesn’t apply to our house because my husband is like a walking human radiator and can’t cope with the heating on, so I have become very accustomed to layering to stay warm.
Make sure the water is always room temperature.
If you can, collect some rainwater and give your orchid that as a treat. It’s free from lime and minerals so extra good for it.
Use special soil – When you buy an orchid, it will already be in the right type of soil. If you do decide to re-pot it, the type of soil you use is very important. Never use normal potting soil, because it doesn’t have all the nutrition your orchid needs or the right structure for your plant. Go to your local garden centre for special orchid soil.
Give them a little treat - give your orchid special food once a month in the summer and once every two months in the winter to give it a little pick me up.
Orchids like plenty of light but not direct sunlight. So don’t put it on a windowsill that is in full sunlight all day.
Orchids don’t like draughts – a little fresh air every now and then is fine but be wary of placing them near windows and doors that are often open.
Nor do they like being near a heater or radiator. Fussy little things aren’t they? But then I don’t like being to near the radiator, or the door, so I can see where they are coming from.
Their ideal environment is a room temp of at least 15 degrees and a top temp of 25 degrees. You should be ok unless you live in a draughty farmhouse in the Outer Hebrides.
If you decide to place your orchid in the kitchen, do not put them near any fruit and veg. As odd as this sounds, it turns out that contrary to all received wisdom, fruit and vegetables are not good for everyone. They emit ethylene which can cause your orchid to drop all its buds at once. And we don’t want that to happen.
What happens when they die…
Now if you’ve got this far and you’ve managed to keep the orchids alive, then you are doing a great job. But here’s the thing, even despite all your nurture, eventually the flowers will start to die off anyway. But don’t go into mourning just yet, because the good news is orchids can have a second bloom! Now that sounds like a real challenge of your orchid nurturing abilities.
Here’s what to do if you want to give your orchid a second wind…
- When the flowers die they will dry out and eventually fall off. But if this doesn’t happen naturally, you can also cut off the dried flowers carefully yourself. Doing so allows the plant to focus all its energy on its blooming flowers and new buds.
- For most types or orchid you cut off the dead flowers as far back to the base as possible but for the common Phalaeonopsis type it’s better to cut off the flower above the second node. The node is the little bump on the spike.
- Then you temporarily move your orchid to a cooler place and only water it once every fortnight. Eventually, if you’re lucky, new branches will grow and new buds will appear. You can then move it back to your favoured spot and enjoy it all over again.
So there you have it, the definitive guide to keeping your orchid alive. I’ve managed it for almost a month now, which I think means my orchid slaying days are officially over. And Sarah clearly knows her stuff, not that that was ever in any doubt. But can I bring them back to life for a second time??? Only time will tell. I’ll keep you posted. Good luck with yours!
This is a sponsored post in collaboration with the National Flower Council of Holland. Did you know that there are over 25,000 types of orchids? The Flower Council have put together a quiz for you to take to find out which one best suits your personality and interior style. Take the quiz here to find out yours www.orchitypes.eu and find out more at www.orchidsinfo.eu
About the campaign ‘We feel better around orchids’
The ongoing promotion campaign ‘We feel better around orchids’ is an initiative of Flower council of Holland. The goal of the campaign is to inform consumers within the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom and Germany about the versatility of the orchid, to inspire them and to stimulate awareness and sales. For more information please visit the following website and social media channels: