What is the best orchard compost?
Orchids have soared in popularity in recent years, especially as beautiful gifts. It used to take seven years to grow an orchid to the point where it blooms. Now it’s just two, making them the perfect plant to pack a colourful punch! Read on for tips and hacks.
Types of natural orchid
There are around 25,000 species of orchids in every colour apart from true black. We may think of them as tropical blooms, but they thrive on every continent apart from Antarctica. In fact, anywhere that isn’t too cold or dry. This includes forests, by the coast and even in British meadows.
• Epiphyte orchids grow on trees – especially those with rough bark that hold moisture – and which get water and nutrients from the air.
• Terrestrial orchids grow in the ground.
• Lithophyte orchids grow in rock crevasses, feeding from organic material which has built up there.
What is orchid compost?
Want larger flowers, and more of them? Using specialist orchid compost will encourage your precious blooms to put on their best show.
Our unique Orchid Compost is a natural mix of evenly chipped coconut shells and coco coir husk chips. These create great texture orchids love. And they come from a more environmentally-friendly source than the bark used in other orchid compost mixes.
Once you add water, the coconut mixture releases small amounts of potassium to boost your orchid plant growth. But it’s light enough to allow excess water to escape so orchid roots don’t rot. For a superb balance of air and moisture, it really has it all.
Roots like sunlight too!
You probably know that leaves make energy through photosynthesis from sunlight. But did you know orchid roots can photosynthesize too? This evolved from their ancestors which took root high up on tree trunks. So don’t pack compost around the roots too tightly.
Can I repot my orchid in normal compost?
Orchids are very particular about what they will root in. If you’ve received one as a gift, do take a look at the pot. Many come in soaked moss, which will eventually suffocate the plant.
You should re-pot these plants immediately. A peat-based compost will be too damp. But some peat-free ‘normal’ blends will be too light. If you decide to mix your own orchid compost, you can use:
• Orchard-grade bark chippings
These will all help with keeping moisture at the right levels. However, if you want the guarantee of compost designed by experts, buying a specialist orchid compost would be a simpler solution.
When should I repot an orchid?
A good time is after your orchid has bloomed. Or if it’s become pot-bound -where the roots have grown too big for a pot. Really roots should have around 3cm around them into which to grow. A good plan would be to repot your orchid every two or three years.
Another sign an orchid needs repotting is when the growing medium or compost has just crumbled away from the roots.
Pro Tip: Check out the Gardeners’ World How to repot orchids guide for excellent step-by-step instructions.
Time to invest in an orchid pot?
Did you know there are special orchid pots? These have wide drainage gaps to allow for air movement. Orchid connoisseurs often prefer terracotta pots for better air and water circulation.
Orchestrating an orchid-friendly environment
Still nervous about caring for these dazzling beauties? Don’t be! Just follow some simple guidelines, and your orchids will reward you.
Home is where the light is
Indoor orchids respond well to brightly lit areas. South or east-facing windows are best, as in the summer west-facing can get too warm. Just make sure the direct sunlight isn’t so strong that it burns the plant.
Giving orchids a weekly feed with specialist plant food helps boost flowering. But hold off when they’re dormant – so between November and spring.
What to do after an orchid has bloomed
Many people dump an orchid once it’s finished flowering, which is a real shame. Encouraging an orchid to re-bloom can be tricky, but it’s worth it. Cut off the flower stem, and re-pot the plant in fresh compost. Then wait. It might take up to a year for the orchid to bloom again, but it’s more sustainable and rewarding than just throwing it out.
Perfect water management for orchids
If you’re growing orchids indoors, you’re in charge of what water they get. Well, you and another natural helper. Mycorrhizae fungi grow inside orchid roots to help them absorb water and minerals. As a thank you, the orchid plant dishes out nutrients derived from natural light. How clever is that?
How often should you water orchids?
Orchids don’t like to be too dry but also hate wet feet. If you have a clear pot, lift out the orchid and look at the roots. Are the roots green? The plant is hydrated. White? You need to give it water.
If you can’t see the roots, do the touch test instead. Poke a pencil point into the growing medium. Does it come out darker? This indicates there’s still moisture around, and you should hold off watering.
Pro Tip: For a gentle way to give your orchids water, add two to three ice cubes on top of the growing medium. Make sure the cubes don’t touch the leaves. As the ice cubes melt, they slowly hydrate the orchid without overwhelming it.
Are the orchids really drinking anything?
When you water orchids, it can seem like the water just gushes straight through the roots. But don’t worry, they are getting a drink! You’re just mirroring a tropical rainstorm with your watering can.
More tips from the ‘Green Gardeners Guild’ online advice library
On the lookout for more tips and hints about gardening? Our blogs are packed with advice:
• Best plants for an apartment balcony
• How to care for houseplants this winter
• Sustainable ways to revamp your hallway
Are you all about orchids? Share your story!
If you’re showing off your blooms online grown in our Orchid compost, make sure to tag @cocoandcoir on Instagram. We’ll credit you for any images we use and you’ll also be in with a chance to win some Coco & Coir goodies.