Moth orchid

by Adam Pasco

I'm in love with the moth orchid. Not obsessed, no butterflies in the stomach, you understand. It's just that orchids are... perfect.

Moth orchidI'm in love with the moth orchid. Not obsessed, no butterflies in the stomach, you understand. It's just that orchids are... perfect.

What greater example of natural purity could you ask for? And unlike slipper orchids that lack generosity by only producing a single flower per stem once a year, moth orchids produce several stems, each boasting a dozen or more exotic flowers.

Yes, I know you'll find these phalaenopsis orchids everywhere now, but they offer so much more value than a bunch of cut flowers. For the same price as your vase of red roses that within a week are only fit for the compost heap, you could instead grow orchids on your windowsill, which carry a succession of flowers for three months.

If that wasn't enough, it will even flower again about six months later, and go on doing so for years. My kitchen windowsill now boasts six moth orchids in various colours, so at least two or three of them are always in bloom. The oldest is probably five years old, so must have produced 15 or more flower spikes over the years.

I know we live in a throw-away society, but no-one should discard moth orchids when the final flower fades and falls. Instead, follow the stem back from its tip to just above a little green scale or nodule. Cut just above this and with luck a new flower spike will develop from this point.

My orchids do enjoy their bright north-facing windowsill, and probably like the high humidity in my kitchen, too. But they don't get spoilt. If I remember I'll fill the sink to the brim with tepid water once a week or so, and dunk the whole pot and roots right down for a good soak. They love it, especially when I add the occasional drop of liquid feed.

Supermarkets and garden centres sell such wonderful phalaenopsis, and if you pay a little more they've often got two or three developing flower spikes instead of just one. I can't resist them. Just one problem... I've run out of space to put them!

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Gardeners' World Web User 01/01/2007 at 00:00

Gardeners' World Web User 14/01/2008 at 21:02

I love all your work its amazing. Me and my friends love you so much we made fan club.

Gardeners' World Web User 17/01/2008 at 20:25

I really enjoyed this article. It could have been me who wrote it! I feel entirely the same way. Orchids are beautiful and great value for money.

Gardeners' World Web User 24/01/2008 at 16:13

Over recent years I have collected about 19 Orchids of different types. Some have been bought for me as presents, but mostly I buy them from my local garden centre when they are reduced! They give me much pleasure, but I too am running out of space! I stand mine in an old dish once a fortnight with 2 pints of room temperature rain water for about 1 hour with a little feed added. Liked the article on Orchids in a recent magazine.

Gardeners' World Web User 27/01/2008 at 12:12

I also thoroughly agree with your comments and have had orchids in flower for five months. With so little maintenance required and such vibrant colours, they make an ideal gift for somebody less able to be continually watering etc.

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