Hennie Steyn of Inhle Orchids chatted to House and Leisure about the care that orchids require to encourage them to bloom once again. ‘They are not as dainty as people might think, in fact they are actually really hardy plants,’ says Hennie. Based on the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, Inhle Orchids is a family run nursery that boasts over 6 000 orchids in two green tunnels.
The most important question is – do you know what kind of orchid you have? This is very important as some orchids will flower from the same spike for a long time while others do better if the stem is cut off. When buying a plant ask your orchid supplier whether the plant is a sequential flowerer, in which case you don’t cut the stem off unless it is completely dead. These plants can give you months of pleasure!
Generally speaking one would assume that you have either a Phalaenopsis, Vanda, Cattleya, Cymbidium or an Oncidium. These are the general ones which are mostly sold commercially. With these you should rather cut the flowering stems as close to the main stem as possible once they have finished flowering. Some – like Phalaenopsis – will flower from making side spikes from the old stem but the flowers are never as good as those from new growths.
You must remember that flowering takes an enormous amount of energy from the plant and therefore, once finished, you must make sure to feed your plant well so that it can grow back to its former glory and produce even better flowers next flowering season.