Over the years I’ve accumulated many indoor orchids, all of the phalaenopsis (moth) type. The first couple were bought, several others were gifted and several more were donated from people who didn’t have the time to look after them, or got bored waiting for them to flower again. They’re normally distributed throughout the house on a multitude of window sills and it’s only when they’re all brought together for watering that I appreciate just how many we seem to have ended up with.
Orchids don’t tend to flower all in sync but out of all the orchids we have, only three are not in flower and then that’s only because they’re either recently split from their parent plant or are recovering from previous abuse (we also have some “rescue” orchids). All the other orchids are in full flower. Of course, this does mean that once they have finished there won’t be any flowers on any of the orchids for many months but in the mean time, I’m enjoying the display.
I have a theory as to why the orchids are all at the same flowering stage. I reckon it all stems from way back in February earlier this year, precisely on moving day; the day we left out old house and relocated. All the orchids came with us in the back of the car (they were too delicate to go in the removals van). That day was miserable and wet and the shock of cold winter air that zipped through the orchids in the brief time they left the front door and got into the boot of the car reset and synchronised all their clocks so that later in the year, I would have a stunning display of orchid flowers.
One particularly impressive orchid was actually a gift from my cousin, this is the second time it has flowered and has managed four flower spikes for an impressive spectacle. Watering the orchids can be a bit of a chore with so many to do, but when they produce such a splendid display, I’m reminded of why I bother.
Orchid Pots and Compost
I have most orchids in transparent pots with lots of drainage holes and I put them inside transparent jugs. This lets light through to the fleshy roots and also helps maintain a more humid microclimate around the pot, keeping the roots moist and warm. Shortly after I receive an orchid I tend to re-pot it into a larger pot to give the roots some room or simply to refresh the orchid compost. I use the special orchid compost that is made up principally of bark chips. A good quality compost makes for a healthy growing medium and it shouldn’t be too expensive since it’s not used in bulk.
Orchid Watering and Care
The jugs also make the watering a little easier. I use tepid water as cold water straight from the cold tap will shock the roots. It’s ideal to use filtered rainwater but that’s a step too far for me at the moment. I gather all the orchids together, fill the jugs with tepid water and put a liquid orchid feed in. I feed more often during the summer and cut back in winter. I tend to use half-strength feed since there are so many orchids and it stops salts from quickly building up. The orchids are left soaking for about half an hour, then the water is emptied away and the pot left to drain of excess water. They’re then put back in their jugs and returned to a windowsill.
I water usually once a fortnight in summer and cut back to every three weeks or so in winter. Every few months, I will sluice tepid water through the pot to wash off any build up of salts and just to give the bark and roots a general rinse. If the leaves are looking particularly dusty, then I’ll give them a wash to clean them up. This is particularly important in the duller winter months when light levels are low.
The orchids I have regularly re-flower between leaf growth stages. A particularly happy orchid will grow leaves, roots and flowers all at the same time. I would say that the key to a jolly flowering orchid is to be consistent in watering, keep the leaves clean and ensure suitable placement away from searing sunlight, desiccating radiators and chilling draughts.