Gardening: How to keep your orchids blooming through summer
Expert Mark Riley shares five hacks to stop your orchids from overheating, writes Hannah Stephenson
STRUGGLING to stop your orchids from wilting?
Direct sunlight and high temperatures can wreak havoc on our most popular indoor plant, and so a major orchid grower is advising flower fans to make some simple changes to their normal plant-care routine.
Millions of phalaenopsis orchids, commonly known as moth orchids, are sold every year and normally require minimum upkeep, until summer temperatures can result in flopping flowers. But there are easy solutions.
"Growing orchids in the summer heat is really easy as long as you make some simple tweaks," says Mark Riley, an expert from specialist Love Orchids (loveorchids.co.uk).
"Extra water, some plant food and a position away from direct sun is key. Orchids look beautiful, can flower for months and last for years. And there's an orchid for everyone's tastes."
Some hacks can be followed all year round. Don't, for instance, leave your orchid next to your fruit bowl, as they're sensitive to ethylene gas, which can be produced by ripening fruit. If you leave your orchid too close to your fruit, its flowers may drop.
Other methods work well in summer. Riley offers five further hacks to keep plants blooming for weeks in the warmer weather...
1. Water twice a week instead of once: "Orchids normally only need a weekly water, but in high temperatures, this should be increased. Run your orchid under a tap or let it soak in the sink for a few minutes. Well-watered roots have plump green roots. If they look silvery grey or shrivelled, pop the plant under the tap."
2. Use the ice cube trick: "Add a few ice cubes to the surface of the bark instead of watering, avoiding the leaves. They will gradually melt and provide the required hydration. Make sure any surplus water is removed from beneath the orchid within an hour, as orchids don't like sitting in water."
3. Grab some gravel and give misting a miss: "Orchids originate from warm, tropical Asia and prefer humid conditions, rather than dry. Increase humidity for your orchid by placing the pot on a layer of wet gravel, keeping the water level below the top of the stones. "Avoid using a water 'mister' as this can lead to spotting on the flowers and deposits on the leaves, as many water supplies are 'hard', containing limescale."
4. Add feed: "Orchids grow more actively during the summer, so add fertiliser to the water fortnightly. Their nutritional requirements are very minimal so only use orchid-specific 'food' and never exceed the recommended dose. During cooler weather, orchids can happily survive on water without additional feed."
5. Don't let it shine: "Orchids love a bright window, but they're not keen on direct sunlight, particularly in hot, dry weather. They also don't like radiators. East or west-facing windows and bathrooms are best.
"While some houseplants can be placed outside in summer, orchids are best grown inside. If you desperately want to put them outside, avoid bright sunlight and bring them inside if night temperatures are likely to dip to lower than 10C," Riley advises.