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My first orchid experience

Amanda Commins

Amanda Commins

December 4, 2013

Last year I happened to come into possession of a number of phalaenopsis or ‘moth’ orchids that had gone past their prime. It was my first orchid experience and I turned to the internet for advice on what to do. Like many internet searches it threw up useful and not so useful information which I muddled through, trying to sort the wheat from the chaff so to speak. There is a local orchid society that I could have turned to but I stubbornly ‘soldiered on’ on my own.

Phalaenopsis orchidI attempted some repotting (with pine bark), experimented with watering methods (including with ice cubes as was suggested to me) and acquired a range of liquid fertilisers specifically for orchids.

Results have been varied. Some of the plants suffered rot and died, but four remain. Three of these are showing vigorous root growth and some leaf growth but nothing in the way of flower spikes yet. Excitingly though the fourth sent up a flower spike which I first noticed in May. Slowly, slowly the flower spike grew and the buds formed – and then it took forever (note the impatience) for the first flower to open. It is now in full flower and looking very spectacular – one spike with 14 flowers / buds.

my first orchid experience

Phalaeopsis orchidAnd yet again I have stumbled across another learning experience. There is I suspect a very good reason that the flower spikes of the orchids you buy at nurseries and florists are staked. I didn’t realise that it was necessary / a good idea to do this when the flower spike is growing.

Phalaenopsis orchid


The result of this is that the weight of the flowers has dragged down the flower spike which now sits horizontally. The orchid still looks beautiful but unless you get down low or find an elevated position for the pot, some of the display is lost.

Now, armed with my new knowledge, all I have to do is work out why the orchid has flowered so beautifully, wait for it to do it again next year, stake the spike (or spikes – yes I am an optimist) and sit back and enjoy the display. Sounds easy doesn’t it….


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Catherine Stewart
10 years ago

Sounds like a good excuse to spend a lot of time lying on the floor

10 years ago

you are lucky to have flowers! i’ve never got any of the orchids i’ve been given in full flower to flower again.

Amanda Commins
Amanda Commins
10 years ago

Hi Kimberley. I agree. I just wish I knew what I did ‘right’ to get this one to flower.

Carla Black
10 years ago

Hi Amanda,

From one experimenter to another: After years of unsuccessfully staking Phalaenopsis, I came across the technique of using a thin bamboo stick and two tiny claw-type hair clips. My previous attempts at guiding were always started too late, so I suggest putting the stick in the pot as soon as the flower stem begins to lengthen, and clip it gently right from the start.

Still, your relaxed moth orchid has a certain natural charm that’s lacking in the flowery soldiers in a row at the florist!

Amanda Commins
Amanda Commins
10 years ago
Reply to  Carla Black

Hi Carla

Many thanks for the tip – I will give it a try next time.