It's time to stop thinking about the winter chill and start looking forward to spring! We're bringing in a bit of floral cheer today as we head down to the Kew Garden Orchids festival where Elisa Biondi, the co-designer of the festival will be speaking to us about the popularity of orchids and the spectacular rare species they keep at Kew.
With so many of us giving or receiving orchids this Mother's Day, gardening expert Michael Perry joins us in studio to demonstrate how to care for orchids at home and dispel some of those plant-keeping myths. Are banana skins and cinnamon good for orchids? And can they really survive on one ice cube of water a week? Your orchids will no longer be ornamental sticks, they’ll be bloomin' marvellous!
If you want to get even more exotic with your orchid choice you can look further afield and find ink dyed orchids. Michael says, "These orchids have been genetically bred so that they have a dyed look, often featuring bright duo-tone colours which look beautiful."
Where to put them
Michael says "Avoid windowsills in bright light. They work best as a nice feature on a side board or a coffee table. Airflow is also really important to help them flourish, so avoid stuffy rooms!"
"Orchids can live quite a long time and can flower regularly throughout the year. However, lots of people end up killing them accidentally. Most people overwater houseplants rather than underwater them. To be honest, in most cases, over watering is far worse than under watering! For the majority of orchids an ice cube sized amount of water a week is enough for orchids. Orchids also need a rest, and let them! When they stop flowering after 14-16 weeks give them a break by lowering the amount of water you give them. It's also better to use rainwater as this is much more pure."
Like many plants, orchids thrive on fertiliser, but no need to run out and buy some as you can use everyday products around the home. Michael says, "Try crushing up some egg shells and adding them to the soil; this is a great way for your orchids to get extra calcium. Used tea bags, which are high in nitrogen, are especially good for orchids. Tea bags contain organic matter that is non toxic and does not smell bad. To use the tea bag, open it and empty the contents into the orchid pot. Apply once monthly in the spring and summer months. Don't throw your banana skins away, soak them in water to make a puree for your orchid to give it extra vitamins."
When the flowers die on the orchids it's time to trim them off, but Michael says this is where many people go wrong:"Lots of people trim too far down the stem, thus killing off any future flowers before they've had a chance to blossom. This is particularly common amongst moth orchids, which are the most popular type of orchid. The key is to cut them in the right place so you just take off the flower and don't damage the plant."
When it comes to repotting an orchid Michael recommends a specialist orchid compost but says you shouldn't need to repot an orchid during its lifespan, "There is very little need to repot an orchid. People often become concerned when they begin to see roots emerging but this is completely normal - the roots are aerial roots and so want to be exposed. However, if you do want to repot an orchid you just need to be very delicate with the roots. One tip is to apply ground cinnamon to the roots before repotting which works as a great natural anti-bac in helping fight off any disease."
Phalenopsis Orchid in Ceramic
Pink and Blue Duo Tone Orchid
£49.99 + Free Delivery, Interflora
Finest Orchid Planter
Mother's Day Extra Tall Pink Orchid
£60 + Free Delivery, M&S