How to look after an orchid

Article by Ros Hardy

A year or so ago, I was given an orchid plant. It was a phalaenopsis.  It came, in flower, in a small attractive ceramic pot (no drainage) with moss packed around the root system. Never before had I owned an orchid and I soon discovered that this flower is the sloth of the plant world. Everything happens very, very slowly.  The attractive flowers stay open for weeks making it an ideal gift for anyone – even those lacking in green thumbs when it comes to houseplants. 
The plants are sold with no expectation that they will survive the lengthy flowering period. However, it goes against the grain to have a ‘throw away’ plant and after a little research I discovered that they can be potted into a more suitable medium and then, with care, the lucky recipient can keep them going and see them flower again. 
Special orchid compost, readily available via the internet, reduces the chance of roots rotting from damp impacted moss around them. So when repotting, remove all the original compost, cut away, with a sharp clean knife, any roots which look dead or dying and settle the plant  into the fresh orchid compost leaving any air-roots above the surface. Do not ever water the plant from above and don’t be tempted to spray the leaves. The leaves do not like getting wet. Overwatering will kill your plant. Stand it in a saucer of water once a week for half an hour and then remove any excess. An orchid fertiliser can be added to the water once a month. Be careful to follow instructions as to the amount! Don’t stand it in direct sunlight and keep it at a steady moderate temperature.
So, once repotted, these plants require minimum maintenance and should thrive and flower again like the one below!