Orchids: Alan Titchmarsh shares ‘trick’ to looking after phalaenopsis houseplant

Alan Titchmarsh shares tips for looking after moth orchids

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Alan Titchmarsh is known for his shows such as Love Your Garden Sharing and My Secret Garden. Sharing his houseplant advice in a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine YouTube video from 2016, Alan shared his top tips on looking after the common moth orchid, including how to water them and how to prune them. 

He explained: “There’s one group of flowering plants which until recently terrified the pants off people because they thought they must be difficult to grow – the orchids.

“Well, to be honest, it’s been around for a long time.”

The moth orchid, also known as phalaenopsis, are one of the most popular indoor houseplants, with long-lasting flowers.

They are easy to look after and work well in different locations around the home.

Alan recommended the indoor plant for beginners, who aren’t “particularly good” at growing things.

He added: “These flowers will not last weeks, but months.

“The trick to looking after them is mainly not over-watering them because if you look right down the bottom, you’ll see most of them come in a transparent pot.

“That’s because these roots here, well they’re coated in something which is called phellogen.

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“It absorbs atmospheric moisture but it also quite enjoys being exposed to light, so these transparent pots will allow the light to get through.

“By growing them in, not really compost but chipped bark, because this is not a terrestrial orchid, one which grows in the ground, it’s an epiphyte.”

Epiphytes are plants which grow anchored to other plants.

When it comes to watering orchids, once a week should be plenty, according to Alan.

“It absorbs atmospheric moisture but it also quite enjoys being exposed to light, so these transparent pots will allow the light to get through.

“By growing them in, not really compost but chipped bark, because this is not a terrestrial orchid, one which grows in the ground, it’s an epiphyte.”

Epiphytes are plants which grow anchored to other plants.

When it comes to watering orchids, once a week should be plenty, according to Alan.

He continued: “Let it drain through that compost, don’t leave it sitting in water.”

Too much water can stop oxygen from reaching the aerial roots, resulting in root rot.

Signs of root rot include the roots turning brown and becoming extremely soft.

With proper care and maintenance, orchids can re-flower multiple times.

Alan explained: “If you look at this orchid here which is flowering so beautifully, you will see that it isn’t the first time it’s flowered.”

Looking down the stem, the gardening expert explained that the scales every so often are actually surrounding buds.

He added: “If you cut back to where the stem has died a little, not going any further than that, then other stems can grow, just like this one, from these buds.”

However, the gardening expert warned gardeners to be “cautious” when cutting back an orchid.

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