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How to grow orchids


Orchids are now an affordable luxury; their sensational and long-lasting blooms bringing a touch of elegance to any home or greenhouse. With the wide range of young orchid plants now on offer at local garden centres and florists, you can choose exciting varieties to grow on yourself.

How to do it


Stand the young orchid plants in trays in the greenhouse, well out of any direct sunlight. If the compost looks very dry, water the plants thoroughly until water starts to run out of the bottom of the pot.


Plants can be fed with a soluble fertiliser added to the watering can. Orchid fertiliser is available from most garden centres, or use a general-purpose feed at half strength every third watering.


As the orchid grows it will develop a strong, fleshy root system. When the roots fill the original pot the plant should be potted on into a slightly larger one.


Put crocks in the bottom of the pot to improve drainage. Add specialist orchid compost to the pot and put the plant in place, making sure the compost goes right down the sides of the rootball. Don't firm down - leave the compost loose to allow water to run straight through.


When the flowering period is over, the old flowering stem can be tidied up. Don't be in too much of a hurry though as some orchids, such as phalaenopsis, often produce a sideshoot that will bear a second crop of flowers.

Our tip

Terracotta pots are more porous than plastic ones and will allow air to get to the orchid's roots.

Don't let orchid plants get too hot in summer: they will stop growing above 30°C so make sure they receive adequate ventilation.

Discuss this project

Talkback: How to grow orchids
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chrislomax 24/11/2011 at 15:28

I was expecting some advice on how far back to trim the shoots that have finished flowering.

I was also wondering if you might comment on the use of glass or transparent plastic pots - I've read somewhere that light helps root development by promoting the growth of a symbiotic micro-organism. True / not true?

lilwead 24/11/2011 at 15:28

Just want to say that phalaenopsis/moth orchids, need to be in a clear pot, to allow light to get to their roots, as they have a symbiotic fungi on them. Also, when trimming the flowering stems of the moth orchid, trim to just above a node below where the lowest flower was. That's what has worked for me.

OLIVE KNIGHT 30/12/2011 at 15:05

i cut orchid back when finished flowering but have no w had any fresh flowers instead i have had WHAT I THINK ARE SIDE SHOOTS ONE I HAVE PUT IN FRESH POT WHICH APPEARS TO BE GROWING

Emma Crawforth 05/01/2012 at 14:52

Hello Olive,

Phalaenopsis, or moth orchids are epiphytic in the wild. Basically that means that they grow above ground in trees, rather than in soil on the ground. That is why the roots are greenish, and like to be exposed to the light, through a clear plastic, or glass pot. Although I have been told not to cut off the flowering shoots on moth orchids when they finish, some of mine turned brown and died this year, so I had to cut them off. As lilwead says, if you cut the stem just above the node where the last flower was, the stem should remain alive, and hopefully produce new flowers in a few months.

Emma. team

ceris hughes 05/01/2012 at 22:04

I've tried the stem cutting back to a healthy node, kept it in the bathroom under the sky light and recently started to feed it with an orchid feed. I've been waiting for more than 2years for a result!!  However the plant,(& ariel roots) are looking healthy and robust so a bit more patience.....  I was given another phalaenopsis that was looking quite stressed, the leaves drooped after a day and still are 6 months on but it's still in flower to my amazement.  I read that while it is still in flower to nip the ends of each stem so as i thought it wouldnt survive because of the leaves i did this and now have lots of new bud stems forming.  It's vital to do this before the flowers fall, will upload a photo if luck continues

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