Alan Titchmarsh: Gardening expert shares how to make orchid plant ‘last months’

Alan Titchmarsh shares advice on looking after orchids

Orchids are beautiful plants which are often found in supermarkets as well as gardening centres. The stunning plants have delicate flowers that can last months if they’re looked after correctly. Gardening expert Alan Titchmarsh often shares tips with fellow gardeners and amateur growers on how to look after certain plants.

The gardening pro often advises Britons on how frequently to water plants, whether to prune them and what type of soil to use.

In a video for BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, Alan shared his top tips for looking after moth orchids.

He said orchids are a group of flowering plants which, until recently, “terrified the pants off people”.

He explained that people thought they were difficult to grow but that this has since changed thanks to the moth orchid.

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The moth orchid is a house plant that is “for people who weren’t particularly good at growing things”.

Alan continued: “These flowers will last not weeks, but months.

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

“That’s because these roots are 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.”

Unlike most plants, orchids are grown in chipped bark because it is an “epiphyte”.

This means that in the wild, where they naturally grow, they will grow in the crook of a tree and absorb moisture but not take nutrition from the tree itself.

Alan explained the main trick with a moth orchid is not over-watering it, but to instead water it once a week at a maximum.

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

When the flowers start to fade, Alan said to leave them.

Alan then revealed what the orchid will look like once the flowers are gone.

There will be leaves at the bottom of it but nothing else on show.

He explained: “The temptation now is to take your secateurs and think ‘the flowers have gone, I’ll whip these stems off, right the way down here’.”

However, Alan warned, “don’t you dare”.

The reason for this is because orchids will flower again, with buds growing out and turning into another new “flower spike”.

Alan added: “If you look down the stem you’ll see scales every so often, and actually surrounding buds.

“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.”

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