Brian Kidd finds an exotic gem to brighten the winter gloom

It's been too cold to do much in the garden, but the weather gave us the opportunity to look around the garden centres.

Saturday, 23rd January 2016, 6:15 am
Moth orchids are easy to grow

We didn’t intend 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!

Thanks to Moira, Christine and David who all had moth orchids for Christmas and would like to know how to look after these exotic gems.

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

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

They enjoy plenty of light, but not direct sunshine. They love rain water because they don’t like chalk.

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

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

The ones at the base of the flower stem die first but another little one will emerge from the top of the spike. The buds look like tiny white balloons.

There is an important thing to remember.

Once the blooms have died off, the flower stem is left 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 for this orchid).

The baby can be nurtured to produce another plant.

This can be assured if a green split cane is pushed into the compost .

At the tip, where you’ll find the baby, tie a ball of sphagnum moss on to the tip of the split cane held in place with black button thread.

A florist will let you have a little piece of the moss.

Keep the moss moist with rain water and tiny roots will eventually emerge from the baby leaves.

Once the moss is full of roots, the baby can be cut off and planted in a tiny pot of orchid compost. Ordinary 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 which looks like silver crab’s legs. The more you see, the better you are looking after the plant.

Once the pot is crammed with roots you can re-pot into a larger pot in orchid compost 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 help the plant to breathe.


Don’t let the rest of the world make you feel fed up with the weather – look forward all the time.

Snowdrop flowers are bursting and next Saturday it will still be light at 5pm.

Keep faith in yourself, everything will be OK, just hang on. Spring is on the way.