So many of us have thrown away orchids when they've stopped flowering, but I'm here to ask you to never do that again! There a few easy tricks to get them to flower again that anyone can do, and that have a very high success rate.
Increasingly, houseplants are viewed as short-lived disposable items, much like a wilted bunch of flowers, and one of the regular victims of our throwaway culture is the orchid. As with every other plant, the joy of an orchid for me is watching it grow. Seeing a flower spike emerge, then buds appearing, which burst open into a cascade of impossibly beautiful flowers, is awe-inspiring. Just imagining this happening blows my mind, but seeing it before my eyes is incredible! Sadly, millions of plants worldwide are thrown away after they stop flowering, but if you know how to care for an orchid they will bloom year after year.
Next time you're out shopping and see an orchid that's finished flowering, buy it before it ends up in the trash.
With over 250,000 followers on instagram, Sarah has become a sought-after expert when it comes to bringing plants back to life. Her account, The Plant Rescuer, offers incredible advice for doing just that. Her first book, also called The Plant Rescuer, was published in 2022.
When do orchids flower?
Phalaenopsis orchids can flower for three months, sometimes longer, and at almost any time of the year. After flowering they require a period of rest before blooming again. Epiphytic orchids have air roots that absorb moisture and nutrients from the air and the bark of trees.
They should only be grown in an orchid potting mix like this from Amazon, which usually consists of bark and helps recreate how it absorbs moisture in its native habitat.
What to do with orchids once the flowers have withered
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Providing the stem is still green, cut beneath the lowest flower and above a node (a bump on the stem). The plant might produce another flush of flowers from the same stem; if it's brown, cut it down to just above the base.
How to encourage the orchid to bloom again
The key to healthy plants and encouraging them to flower is light. Place the orchid on a windowsill where it receives a few hours of early morning or late afternoon direct sun; east or west-facing is preferable. The light from a south-facing window in Summer can be too intense. If you notice white scorch marks on the leaves, move it back slightly.
How and when to water orchids
A good indication of when to water an orchid can be found by observing the colour of the roots; plump and green means the plant is hydrated, and silvery-coloured roots indicate the plant is dry. Fill the pot to the top with water and leave it to soak for 15-30 mins before draining.
Add plant feed to the water once a month. Take care to avoid getting water droplets in the crown of the orchid; if left, it can cause the plant to rot.
The tagline of this book says it all - and is totally true! Sarah has a knack and understanding for brining plants back to life that can't be beaten, and it's all distilled as easy-to-follow advice in the beautiful coffee table book.
The orchid grower's essential survival kit
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Sarah Gerrard-Jones, author of The Plant Rescuer – The book your houseplants want you to read, and winner of RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal, is a self-taught plant obsessive with a passion for rescuing ailing houseplants. As @theplantrescuer on Instagram, Sarah has helped thousands of people understand how to make their plants happy and what to do if something goes wrong.
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