It starts out innocently.
You're at your friend's wedding and you find yourself becoming the unexpected owner of an orphan white orchid from your table setting. You take it under your wing ... although things don't exactly go to plan.
Orchids are stunning, but they can be a little tricky to keep alive.
If you're an orchid beginner, the good news is they can be conducive to home environments -- as long as you know what you're up against.
"Orchids are one of the most diverse plant families, and there are thousands of different species. One set of conditions isn't going to work for all, so it's important to be familiar with the type that you're going to grow," Dr Dale Dixon, curator of the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney told The Huffington Post Australia.
"The most common species to buy are Phalaenopsis orchids (also known as moth orchids) which have large tongue-shaped leaves."
"A moth orchid will usually flower coming into spring, and if looked after, those flowers will last on the plant for about three months."
In a nutshell, orchids require warmth, moisture and a hefty dose of food to keep them chugging and re-flowering. We've nutted this out for you in three snackable chucks to kick you off on your orchid journey.
Orchids do not like the cold. Keep them indoors, particularly during winter.
"I might think about turning the heater on if it gets a bit cool in winter, which then dries the atmosphere out a bit," Dixon said.
When it comes to placement indoors, the general rule is bright yet indirect sunlight. Dixon suggests a window sill, ideally that is southely or easterly facing.
Orchids require moist, well-draining conditions.
"Over-watering is a risk, especially with moth orchids," Dixon said. "Sometimes, they'll be sold to you in containers that have their roots wrapped in sphagnum moss. If you water it upright in that container, it will fill up with water and die. So always check this, and make sure to invertand drain the container."
If you find yourself with an orchid in a sealed container, Dixon suggests re-potting it straight away with an orchid potting mix -- either bark, perlite or moss (or a combination of both).
When it comes to watering, he aims for a fortnightly soaking.
"I usually take mine onto the balcony and give them a good watering every fortnight. With a good orchid mix and some fertiliser, that should get you through."
This is also important when your orchid isn't flowering.
This seems to be the step that everyone misses. Plants need food to keep 'em chugging -- and orchids are no exception.
"They love to be fed. As long as you fertilise them regularly, they'll perform well," Dixon said. "You can even go as far as buying a recommended fertiliser when they're flowering and another one for when they're in vegetative growth.
"If you keep these basic requirements in check, you can keep it alive and have a greater chance of bringing it back into flower again."
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