An easy exotic which loves central heating

Moth orchids

Moth orchids

Carnations

BRIAN KIDD: Gardening galore for the long weekend

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It’s been too cold to do much in the garden, but it’s great to have a look around at the garden centres.

We go not intending to buy anything, but there’s always something which catches the eye.

In particular I have been amazed at how many moth orchids have whizzed off the shelves – someone must love someone very much.

Moth orchids have become popular because they are easy to grow in the home.

They must have a temperature of not less that 45F (7C).

They enjoy plenty of light but not in direct sunshine.

They enjoy rain water because they don’t like chalk.

So, here we have an exotic which is easy to grow.

The spikes of flowers will last for several months and all we need to do is remove dead flowers.

The ones at the base of the stem die first but another little one emerges from the top of the spike.

There is an important thing to remember.

Once the blooms have all died make sure you leave the flower stem on the plant because while it is still green another flower stem will emerge from lower down on the stem. This thin stem will gradually thicken and produce another group of flowers.

In addition to this the top of the old flower stem will sometimes produce a tiny set of leaves; this is a baby phalaenopsis (the botanical name of this orchid).

The baby one can be nurtured to produce another plant.

This can be assured if a green split cane is pushed into the compost and at the tip, where the baby one is situated, tie a ball of sphagnum moss onto the tip of the split cane held in place with black button thread. A florist will let you have a little bit of the moss.

Keep the moss moist with rain water and tiny roots will emerge from the baby leaves and once the moss is full of roots, the baby can be cut off and planted in a tiny pot of orchid compost.

Potting compost is not suitable. Moth orchids need food specifically formulated for orchids which is dissolved in rain water. Just follow the directions on the pack.

Part of the overall beauty of moth orchids is the silvery root structure.

The roots look like silver crabs’ legs, but the more you see, the better you are looking after the plant.

Once the pot is crammed with roots, repotting into a larger pot in orchid compost can be done as soon as all the flowers fade, but leave some of the silver roots out of the pot.

You may not like the look of them but they are helping the plant to breathe.

TIP OF THE WEEK

Keep a close eye on those lovely new plants you were given for Christmas. If the room is always warm, the plants will need more water than those in a cold room.

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