Orchids: How to water houseplant ‘correctly’ in winter – ‘look at its roots’

Alan Titchmarsh shares tips for looking after moth orchids

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Moth orchids, also known as Phalaenopsis, is the most common variety of orchid, commonly sold in garden centres and supermarkets. Available in different sizes and colours, they tend to be low maintenance, although require a little extra care in the winter months.

Gardeners’ World have shared top tips for looking after orchids.

They said: “Most orchids require bright light but indirect sunlight. However some orchids, such as Panda orchids, require full sun – always check the label before buying orchids.

“For moth orchids and others that need bright but indirect light, an east or west-facing windowsill is perfect.

“Too much light can scorch the leaves. If your orchid gets scorched, don’t detach the damaged leaves unless the plant has several additional healthy leaves.”

Most orchid varieties come from humid, tropical regions and it is important to mimic this atmosphere.

In winter, when the heating is likely to be on, the air is dry, which can cause the houseplants to dry out fast.

Gardeners’ World said: “Mist the foliage every two to three days using tepid water, but avoid spraying the flowers, as the petals can be marked by water.”

Using warm water allows the plants to benefit from the humidity.

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Misting them regularly also helps to avoid overwatering, one of the most common ways to kill orchids.

According to Gardeners’ World, owners should avoid giving the plant too much water, always lifting the pot first to check if it feels heavy.

You should only water the plant if it feels light.

The experts said: “To water moth orchids correctly, look at its roots. Don’t water if these are green but wait until they look silvery, instead.

“Feed with orchid fertiliser from spring until autumn.”

When all the flowers have fallen off, many think they cannot rebloom.

While it is tricky to get orchids to flower again, it isn’t impossible.

Gardeners’ World explained: “With moth orchids, once all the flowers have fallen, cut off the stem just above a visible joint.

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“This may stimulate the production of another flower stem, which you should clip to a support.

“If no shoot appears and original stem turns straw-coloured, then remove it at the base. Most other orchids won’t flower twice on the same stem, so cut off spent stems immediately.”

When it comes to caring for orchids during the winter months, owners should be aware of pests.

Due to the change in environment and increase in indoor temperature, orchids can be more susceptible to pests such as scale insects and mealybugs.

Gardeners’ World said: “Signs of infestation include stickiness on the leaves or nearby surfaces, or black sooty mould.

“Scale insects can be found on the leaf surfaces and flower stalks, while mealybugs prefer new leaves.

“It’s easy to remove pests by hand, using a soapy sponge to clean the leaves. Alternatively, spray with an insecticide.”

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