Moth orchids for Mother’s day

I love to receive plants as gifts and I like to give them too. My only reservation is that I am aware that when I give someone a plant they then live in dread of my next visit in case I ask how it is! But I never do.

When I give a plant as a gift my responsibility ends there and what the new owner does then is not my concern. Of course, I hope it will do well and give pleasure but some plants are just not meant to last. Pots of primroses, chrysanthemums and bulbs only look good for a few weeks.

That is why I like orchids as gifts, especially moth orchids (phalaenopsis) which are the most common houseplant orchids. If I give one I know that it will look great in two weeks even if it has not even been watered! I am not alone because they are the most popular flowering houseplants and it is easy to see why. The individual flowers last for months and the plants can remain in bloom for six months or more, with minimal care.

They make perfect gifts for Mother’s Day, because they look exotic, very beautiful and they are easy to care for. Basically they need:

Light shade – out of direct sun but not in a room with no windows!
Moderate temperatures – anything between 15-25c is perfect
Moderate watering – NEVER let them sit in water and DO allow them to almost dry out between watering.

Then you can feed once a month, mist with water and wipe the leaves if you really want to look after them. But with minimal care they will remain in bloom and look lovely for at least three months.

When giving an orchid for Mother’s Day always by a pot cover too to complete the gift.

Repotting orchids

If you have had success with your orchids and have old plant that are several years old they will need to be repotted. As they grow, the old leaves die and the plants get top-heavy and floppy in the pot. Most can be repotted in the same size pot but you must use orchid compost which is loose and granular. Standard potting compost will suffocate the roots and kill the plants so only use orchid compost.

Take the plant out of the pot and cut off any of the old roots that are brown. Healthy roots are white or green.

Then cut off any old flower stems and pull away old leaves. NOTE – when the first flowers drop of the flower stem do not cut off the stem because it will often produce more flowers from the ends or from side shoots. But eventually the stem will die and can be cut off. New flower stems should be produced later – if the plants are fed and are growing well.

Replant into the same pot, with fresh compost, slightly deeper, training the roots into the compost. Shake and tap the pot to work the compost around the roots and then give a good water to settle the compost around the roots.

Other ideas

Camellias are also popular gifts for Mother’s Day but remember to buy a pot to plant it in, about 10cm deeper and wider than the present pot and a bag of ericaceous compost to complete the gift.

If mum is a keen gardener then a package of useful sundries is a thoughtful gift. I am not a mum but if someone bought me a collection comprising a trowel, pack of labels, some plant food and some seed trays would make me very happy!

And a bag of compost as well would make me delighted. Bulky items like compost may not be very pretty but if mum has trouble lifting heavy items then having them delivered is a boon. Of course you can always take mum to Nags Hall to choose her own and for a cake and coffee too!