Keeping your orchid alive (all you need to know)
The most gorgeous indoor plant you can bring home is actually low maintenance, but has acute likes and dislikes
Colourful, fragrant and an exotic cluster of joy, orchid plants make for great gifts that last long after the occasion and become keepsakes. Taking care of them is easy, if only one knew the basics of the epiphytes (air plants) that grow on trees and cling on feed with their exposed roots. Savitri Wadhwani, who runs Savi Orchids, a delightful little nursery at Peddar Road, shares a rulebook.
Water it right: The easiest way to kill an orchid is to overwater it. Drench and drain works best, says Wadhwani. “Soak or wet only the coconut chips/ medium/pot with room temperature water and drain the excess water. Allow to almost dry out between watering (usually three to five days days). The best time to water is in the morning or daytime; never at night,” she adds.
Give it indirect light: “When flowering, the plant should be placed in an area with medium, indirect light. Whereas when the flowers have dropped, place them in bright lighted area. This is the time when the plants need more energy to create new spikes and buds,” says Wadhwani.
Keep it warm: Most orchids are warm temperature-loving plants. "A good range is between 24°C to 28°C daytime temperature and cooler at night. Avoid the plant from air condition draft."
Provide moisture: Most orchids like humidity. “Lightly mist the plant with a spray bottle; the aerial roots growing out of the pot will love the moisture. Or place a tray with water with gavel or pebbles underneath the pot to provide some extra humidity for the plant,” adds Wadhwani.
Trim, trim, trim: Trim old flowers and stems that have turned brown. "If it’s still green, it may re-bloom, either from the tip or by branching further back on the stem. Sterilize your cutting tools over a flame or in boiling water to prevent spreading infections between plants."
Repot: Every couple of years, the mix/ medium (usually coconut chips) that the plants are potted in starts to break down. “Most orchids are air plants, so if the potting mix is starting to decompose, compress, and become denser, orchids get unhappy because their roots need constant access to air,” explains Wadhwani.
Where to place it
One of the best places to keep your orchid is near a north- or east-facing window where the sunlight doesn’t tend to be direct. The window should be insulated against drafts and sharp breeze. If your bathroom is spacious and has a window, keep it there. Orchids love moisture.
Where to buy
This high-end store sells more than just orchids so while you are here to look at them in striking colours, do pick a planter—in ceramic, glass, wood or beaten metal—to go with your blooms.
At: 1-B, 14th Road, Khar West, Mumbai
One of the oldest nurseries in town, this is your go-to place to bring home a colourful variety of cattleya, dendrobiums and phalaenopsis. These beautiful perennials will ensure to keep your home and garden colourful.
At: Saraswati Road, GOI Staff Colony, Santacruz West
This Bangalore-based website is your one-stop-shop for all things orchid. From plants in bloom to potting media to orchids in all varieties, they have it all covered. There’s a beginners corner as well.
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