Orchid care: Secret to getting an orchid to flower & ‘flourish’ – use old fish tank water

Orchids: Expert shares tips for looking after plant

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With long, arching stems topped with elegant, exotic blooms, moth orchids are popular and easy-to-grow houseplants. They can flower at any time of year, creating spectacular displays that last for several months. But how can you make your orchid really “flourish”? An expert from RHS revealed the unusual type of water you should be using. 

Express.co.uk spoke exclusive to Russell Watkins, Floral Team Leader at RHS Garden Harlow Carr in Harrogate. 

He shared his best tips for when it comes to looking after an orchid and the unusal type of water the plant loves. 

Russell said: “Most people, unless they are already an orchid enthusiast, probably have a form of Phalaenopsis (moth orchid) and these are super easy. 

“Choose a bright spot out of direct summer sun, and make sure when watering that they don’t sit too long in any excess water as this can rot the roots.”

The RHS explains how moth orchids need consistently warm conditions all year round and bright but not strong light. 

Water and feed regularly during the growing season, but reduce both in winter. 

“If you repot, be sure to use a bark-based orchid compost, as traditional compost will be too dense and rot the roots.” 

As for floweing, Russell said: “They can flower for many months and because of this they are great value for money. 

The RHS explains how moth orchids need consistently warm conditions all year round and bright but not strong light. 

Water and feed regularly during the growing season, but reduce both in winter. 

“If you repot, be sure to use a bark-based orchid compost, as traditional compost will be too dense and rot the roots.” 

As for floweing, Russell said: “They can flower for many months and because of this they are great value for money. 

“However when they stop flowering don’t be tempted to trim back the stem at all. 

“Unless it actually starts to go brown – then you could trim to the next dormant bud/node along the stem.

“If the stem stays green and firm they often start to re flower again from the tip,” he added. 

RHS also revealed: “Moth orchids reproduce by sprouting plantlets (known as keiki) from nodes on their stem. 

“These baby plants can simply be detached once they’ve grown several roots, then potted up in orchid compost, to give you new plants for free.”

For anyone struggling to keep their orchid happy, the expert suggested changing the type of water used to water the plant. 

Russell revealed: “The two main reasons for failing with orchids is too much watering and not enough light. 

“If you have a fish tank/aquarium, the changeover water can be used to make your orchid really flourish.” 

Some of things a moth orchid doesn’t like is temperature fluctuations. 

“These tender tropical orchids can’t stand cold, so keep them above 16°C at all times. 

“Avoid temperature fluctuations and draughts,” the experts said. 

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