Orchids: Expert unveils common reason for orchid dying – ‘beware!’

Moth orchids: Expert explains the meaning behind name

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Orchids are a popular houseplant and moth orchids, Latin name Phalaenopsis, are the most common type of orchid grown in the UK. Love Orchids is a British Family Grower of orchids and Express.co.uk spoke exclusively to Malcolm, the Head Grower about why orchids do best in clear pots and how to repot them when the time comes. 

When you buy an orchid, they usually come in a clear plastic pot. 

Most will then put the plant into a decorative plant pot and most often than not, the orchid shows signs of suffering.

Malcolm explained why clear pots and bark is the best environment for the house plant. 

“Phalaenopsis orchids are epiphytes, in the wild they live attached to trees and not in the ground,” he explained. “The roots need light and air around them to grow. 

“Hence we use clear pots to let the light in and bark which doesn’t hold water, drying fast and allowing air round the roots. 

“If we plant in an opaque pot the roots inside die and new neck roots produced from the crown of the plant do not grow down but out and up losing all plant stability. 

“These air roots will cling to anything they touch, so beware if the roots are against wallpaper,” the expert continued. 

“We [Love Orchids] do all the hard work of growing and flowering the orchid for you. 

“Whilst flowering the plant is in a ‘Tick-over’ mode, not really growing and is happy to be in a decorative pot with no light to the potted roots. 

“And remember not to let the plant sit in water.” 

How to repot an orchid

“Orchids rarely need repotting, maybe every two to four years,” Malcolm said. “But occasionally it is beneficial to repot.” 

– When the bark in the pot is decomposing with no aeration to the roots.

– When there are no roots in the pots as they have rotted off.

– When there are too many roots in the pot and the plant is being pushed out.

– When there are too many aerial roots out of the pot and the plant is getting unstable.

You will need: 

– Orchid potting bark or coco fibre/bark mix. Do not use ordinary potting compost.

– A clear, new pot one size larger than the original. 6cm—9cm—12cm—15cm.

How to repot: 

Knock the plant out of the pot and carefully remove the old bark. Leave any bark pieces attached to the roots.

– Trim off any dead or dying roots.

– Take the new pot and carefully place all the roots inside, the base of the crown should be level with the top of the pot.

– Carefully feed the bark into the pot around the roots whilst holding the plant in position.

– Fill to the top of the pot, gently tapping the pot helps settle bark around the roots. 

– Take care not the bury the plant. Don’t worry if there are some large air gaps in the bark as the roots will soon fill this.

– Thoroughly wet the bark then water as normal when required.

Malcolm’s fascinating Phalaenopsis facts

Phalaenopsis young plants are produced by micropropagation, they are ‘Test Tube Babies’. The young plants are clones of the mother plant and should be all identical, something that the supermarkets demand.

From laboratory flask to young plant ready for potting takes one and a half years.

From potting to selling takes one year, at selling the plants can be two and a half years old.

The roots do not have root hairs and only take up water from the coloured root tip.

Phalaenopsis roots photosynthesise.

Phalaenopsis means” Moth Like”, the flower looks like a moth.

The plants can be long lived, some known to be over 100 years old.

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