Gardeners’ World: ‘Biggest mistake’ gardeners make caring for orchids – ‘the roots rot’

Gardeners' World: Orchid expert talks caring for Phalaenopsis

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This week’s episode of Gardeners’ World was a houseplant special which saw the team explore various indoor varieties and the must-have plants of the moment. On the latest episode, Frances Tophill and Nick Bailey shared their tips with viewers on how to care for houseplants. Gardening expert Rachel de Thame also visited Sara Ritterhausen at Burnham Nurseries in South Devon where she received a “masterclass” in orchid care.

The family business has been growing orchids for more than 70 years.

One of the most common orchids found in UK homes is the phalaenopsis orchid, also known as the moth orchid.

Rachel said these are “fairly simple to grow”.

Sara said these orchids suit a modern home because, like us, they like “warm and cosy” conditions.

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However, she warned that the “biggest mistake” orchid owners make with this variety is watering them “too often” which can lead to “root rot”.

She explained: “So just pop them in a warm spot out of the bright summer sun and not to overwater them.

“That’s the biggest mistake that people make is they water them too often.

“And then the roots stay too wet and then the roots rot.”

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In the wild, the phalaenopsis orchid would grow on a tree.

These plants are what is known as an epiphyte.

When growing them in a pot, they will create aerial roots escaping out over the side of the pot.

Another popular feature of moth orchids is the fact they flower for a long time.

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Some people think that once they flower, the plant won’t flower again, but this is not the case.

Moth orchids can actually re-flower off the same stem.

Sara shared her tips to encourage them to re-flower.

She said: “They flower for long periods of time, months at a time and more than most other orchids.

“The other thing that the phalaenopsis do is they have this ability to re-flower off the same flower stem but if they’re being stubborn, you can try a few tricks.

“You can move them, give them a change – slight drop in temperature – bit of orchid feed, all those sorts of things help boost the flowers to come again.”

Sara said there are around 30,000 species of orchid all around the world.

Gardeners’ World is available to stream on BBC iPlayer

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