how to tend to orchids…
Posted in nature, pia's photos July 28th, 2009 by piablog


This has nothing to do with anything I was going to post today, but I felt compelled to share this with you for a couple of reasons:

1. The colour of this orchid goes superbly with my plum and amber colour palette this week, don’t you agree?

2. There may be some of you out there who are as clueless as I am in how to look after orchids.

3. It also just happens to be a great example of how knowledgeable my current (blog)house guest is…


Zoë’s the kind of gal who knows stuff. You know, you mention your concern about something obscure in conversation (like “um, the flowers on my orchid are dropping off”) and she gives you the exact answer to your query – as well as how to fix it – in conversation. We have lots of lovely conversations like this. Although when she asks about something obscure, it’s usually followed by a long pause of silence…


So yes, my orchid flowers were dropping off and I just happened to mention it in an email to her recently. The conversation went something like this:

P: …I’m worried I’m not looking after my orchids properly – the one you gave me is suddenly losing its flowers and I don’t know why! I would hate for them to wither away, they are so beautiful.

Z: Oh don’t worry about it! Once they’re done flowering, it’s quite normal for the flowers to drop all at once. The flowers last for ages, but not forever. Plus, you don’t really know how long it’s been flowering when you buy it – they can force them to flower any time of the year in heated greenhouses, so it could have already been flowering a month prior. When it’s dropped them all, you can cut the flower stem right back to the base and then it will flower again next Spring. You will need to keep watering it the same, and it could probably get some fertiliser if you want it to really flourish (you can buy orchid fertiliser at the supermarket or hardware or flower shop sometimes, just follow the directions). If you can, keep it in the same spot too – if you don’t mind looking at it that is! Then, in winter, it will start to put out a new flower spike, and with a bit of luck, by Spring next year you’ll have a whole new flush of flowers that will last well into Summer next year. I know, it sounds complicated, but it isn’t really. Just 5 minutes of your time once or twice a week, that’s all. Some people throw them out once they’ve finished flowering – they are kinda designed to be long-lived cut flowers really, but it’s so cool if you can get them to flower again!

P: wow!!

Z: Well, I’m no expert. But just think of it as a living thing – it needs warmth and light and food and water – and it will reward you…

P: You rock!

Z: ah, no worries mate!

P: are you enjoying your stay in the (blog)house? Can I get you another champas darling?

Z: make it a mojito.


Ok I just made those last three lines up, but still, isn’t she full of wonderful advice? Thanks Zoë. I shall get you another mojito in uno momento.


PS Her next post is up! And it has nothing to do with orchids. Enjoy…
PPS Dean Martin’s version of Sway is delicious. And it would go perfectly with mojitos.

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  1. milan says

    This is great! I’ve always been embarrassed about my black thumb – these tips are exactly what I need to redeem myself. Thanks Zoe and Pia

    July 28th, 2009 | #

  2. Joanna says

    This is so helpful. I count myself among the many who have thrown their orchids away thinking that they were dead when they just needed a little bit of love! I haven’t been inclined to buy another pot of orchids since, but this post is making me change my mind. Thanks!

    July 28th, 2009 | #

  3. Andi says

    Awesome advice. I have always wondered how to take care of my orchids. Thankfully, I have been doing exactly what she said to do. Love the pics as always!!! Orchids are sooo beautiful. 🙂

    July 28th, 2009 | #

  4. BlondebutBright says

    Actually I’ve heard not to cut the stem right after the flowers fall – sometimes it’s possible that flowers will bloom again from that stem. I’ve seen it happen (I’m on orchid fanatic, currently with seven plants). They’re the most amazing plants – they last for years and it’s such a joy to watch them flower again and again.

    Love your blog – just bought your book for my mom a couple weeks ago.

    July 29th, 2009 | #

  5. Paris Parfait says

    So glad to read this, as I had the exact same question about my orchid. I had it under a glass cloche in one room and it was thriving. But I moved it to another room (no glass cloche) and the flowers started to fall off – only one remaining. I will keep Z’s advice in mind. Thank you!

    July 29th, 2009 | #

  6. pia says

    I’m glad to hear there are a few others out there like me, with question marks hanging over their flower-dropping orchids!

    Now we know what to do. And BlondebutBright – thank you for this extra tip! I’m super happy to hear you like my blog, and i do hope your mom will like the book.


    July 29th, 2009 | #

  7. Zoë says

    I’m definitely no expert, but I’m chuffed if it means your beautiful plants flourish and give you extra joy a second time round! BlondebutBright, you’re quite right: sometimes they will flower again on the same stem. I think I tend to cut them off because they offend my obsessive neat-freak mind 😉 Happy pottering everyone!

    July 31st, 2009 | #

  8. How To Look After Orchids says

    […] how to tend to orchids… | pia jane bijkerk […]

    August 10th, 2009 | #

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