Episode: 10
Title: Orchids
Broadcast: 21st November 2015
Presenter: Chloe Thomson

Orchids make wonderful potted plant gifts - their striking flowers and elegant forms are a real eye catcher. It’s these cymbidium and phalaenopsis orchids that you’re most likely find in your local garden centre. In this story, Chloe gives some tips to help keep your orchids looking good year after year.

  • Cymbidium orchids are one of the most popular orchid choices for the not so tropical, cooler areas of Southern Australia. They are known to be hardy, easy to care for plants with beautiful long lasting flower spikes.
  • Choose a protected spot for your cymbidium away from direct hot afternoon sun, heavy winds and frost. Under a north facing verandah or evergreen tree is ideal.
  • And here’s a tip to check if an area is too shady - wave your hand above the foliage and if you can cast a shadow - then you know it’s perfect. But over autumn and winter you might need to re-access and bring it into an area with brighter light.
  • Cymbids hate wet feet, so bring the pots up off the ground slightly and don’t use saucers, or decorative pots with no holes. When it comes to watering, once or twice a week is ideal. More often in summer and even twice daily if we’re having a heatwave.
  • Lazy gardeners can give these plants a dose of slow release fertiliser in spring but for best results use an organic based liquid plant food that is formulated for orchids or flowering plants - applying it monthly from September to May.
  • Phalaenopsis orchids like these, will love the same liquid fertiliser applied monthly in all seasons except winter. These beautiful orchids prefer to grow in a temperature range of 18-28 degrees. So, unless you have a glasshouse - they are well suited to growing indoors. Choose a spot an east-facing windowsill or a bright corner with indirect light is perfect too.
  • Overwatering and letting orchids sit in a puddle of water at the bottom of a pot will cause the plant to rot and die. Instead, sit the pot on a bed of moist pebbles to maintain humidity around the roots and the plants will love you for it. When you do water, let any excess moisture drain from the bottom of the pot before putting it back into its display pot.
  • Once the flowers fall off, trim the stem back to a healthy node and you may get a second flower spike. But if the stem spike dies back, then trim them off completely.