Get a second flush of flowers from your Phalaenopsis

How to cut your orchid (without killing it!)
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

With its sculptural form, delicate petals and all-round graceful beauty, it’s not hard to see why the orchid makes such a popular plant for the home. The Phalaenopsis or ‘moth orchid’ (the most common houseplant variety) also boasts the ability to grow well in centrally heated rooms – and a simple trick promises to produce long-lasting flowers all year round. 

To bring out that second flush of flowers, simply follow these steps:

1. Get the timing right. Prune your orchid after your flowers have died off (usually after about eight weeks) and as the spike begins to turn yellow.

2. Use the right tool. A sharp, clean knife blade or pair of secateurs will do the trick. Anything too blunt (don’t even think about using your kitchen scissors) will crush the stem and inhibit fresh growth.

2. Hit the right spot. If you look closely at your orchid spike, you’ll see a number of beige rings at roughly five-inch intervals. These are called bracts and are designed to protect an inactive bud beneath. Cut the spike about a quarter of an inch above the bract to remove the inhibitory hormones that are preventing the bud from flowering. In a few weeks the spike will elongate and flower.

My bud has grown roots!

Sometimes the bud will produce a small plantlet (keiki) instead of a flower. In this instance, wait until a few good roots have developed, detach the plantlet and pot it in orchid compost. Water sparingly and mist daily.

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