Alan Titchmarsh shares biggest mistake when tending to moth orchids

Alan Titchmarsh details method for keeping orchids flowering

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Want a low-maintenance plant that will last not weeks but months? Gardening guru Alan Titchmarsh spoke to BBC’s Gardeners World Magazine about how to look after moth orchids.

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Alan stated: “There’s one group of flowering plants that up until recently, terrified the pants off people because they thought they must be difficult to grow – orchids.”

But then, a few years ago, moth orchids – Phalaenopsis – came into popularity.

He explained that breeders got to work on it and with the Phalaenopsis managed to create “a race of plants which were brilliant as house plants”.

One of the main appeals of this plant is that it is perfect for those who “aren’t particularly good at growing things”.

The fact moth orchids are low-cost means that plant lovers need only spend “pocket money” to acquire one.

Indeed, a Botanico Phalaenopsis Tropic Ocelot Orchid Plug Plant costs just £7.99 on Amazon.

The Easy Plants One Elegant Moth Orchid Colourful Flower Plant in 9cm Pot Phalaenopsis Blume for House Indoor Decoration is just £10.99.

Alan continued: “And these plants will last not weeks, but months – the trick is looking after them.”

He explained that orchids should not be over-watered, and should only be done so once a week.

Next, it is key to not let your orchid sit and soak in water for too long, but rather let it drain out.

Moth orchids also like to be exposed to light so a transparent pot will work best for maintaining them.

However, there is one thing you must never do with a moth orchid according to the expert – no matter how tempted you are.

After a while, a moth orchid might become withered as it has been allowed to dry out too much.

The next step might be that the flowers are gone, leaving just the stems, but this is where some plant novices make a big mistake.

Alan continued, referencing the bottom of the stems: “The temptation is to think, ‘the flowers are gone, I’ll just get my secateurs and whip off the stems right the way down here – but don’t you dare.”

He explained that these dwindling orchids can “flower again beautifully” if the stem is cut back just a little.

A bud can grow out and turn into a new flower spike, so it’s important to not waste your moth orchid’s full potential.

The expert concluded: “If you look down the stem, you’ll actually see scales every so often, they’re actually surrounding buds.

“If you cut back to where the stem has died a little, not going any further than that, then other stems can grow.”

Cutting a stem too far and too soon may mean “losing another set of flowers”, he warned.

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