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Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Bargain Orchids

Due largely to modern micro-propagation techniques, orchids have become much more widely available and very reasonably priced. The plants are raised in test tubes from tiny fragments of tissues, enabling growers to produce them in their thousands, cutting literally hundreds of years from the traditional production cycle. Cloning may sound a bit Frankenstein but for plants it’s really just a hi-tech way of taking cuttings.

Of all the orchids, cymbidiums are by far the toughest and most widely sold. These are the ones with long strap-shaped leaves and flowers in an amazing range of colours. They are happy in quite cool conditions and do well with minimal watering while in flower.

If want an absolute bargain, watch the shops for orchids that have just finished flowering. Prices are often slashed to giveaway prices. To get them to perform again next year, put them outside somewhere as sunny as possible, keep them watered and give them an occasional liquid feed. The leaves can look quite attractive as a foil to summer flowers in a container collection, so there’s really nothing to lose.

Bring them indoors again until temperatures threaten to go below 5 degrees C and ease off the water for the winter. As long as you had a nice summer, you should be rewarded by ten full weeks of bloom.

Written By Alistair Ayres

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