Garden advice: how to grow orchids

PUBLISHED: 15:24 28 January 2014 | UPDATED: 15:26 28 January 2014

Learn how to grow beautiful orchids

Learn how to grow beautiful orchids

Archant

Top tips from a Headcorn expert

Orchids stir a passion in many people, but whether you are a real enthusiast 
or would just like to add their exotic beauty inside as a house plant while it’s still wintery outside, there is a dazzling array on offer.

Long associated with love and beauty, they may be the perfect Valentine’s this month or Mothering Sunday gift in March.

Orchids are perennial plants and the family Orchidaceae has around 25,000 species, with around 200 still being discovered every year, making them the most evolved flowering plants in the world.

Many are associated with the exotic tropics, however they grow in a wide 
range of habitats across the world, from 
the sub-Arctic to tropical rainforests of 
the southern hemisphere, even the edge 
of deserts. Most are found in tropical mountain ranges.

In the UK our spring and summer-flowering orchids, of around 50 species, 
are some of our rarest wild flowers as 
their habitat is often under threat.

Some orchids are very tiny, others 
more flamboyant and showy. They all have the same visible form of three sepals and three petals, with a characteristic lip.

February and March are great months 
to see exotic orchids, such as Cymbidiums, Phalaenopsis, Dendrobiums and Onicidium in flower at orchid shows and in garden centres. Some of these indoor beauties are hardy for cooler climates; others need special care and growing conditions.

For Joanne and Daniel Denness, their passion for orchids has led to establishing 
a small specialist nursery in Headcorn, called Alphabet Orchids.

“I’m a veterinary nurse by trade but always had a real interest in plants and after my nan bought me the a Miltoniopsis, my passion for orchids began and I started collecting miniature varieties,” says Daniel

“Joanne and I wanted a hobby we could share, so I joined the local orchid society and Joanne formed the vision behind Alphabet Orchids, where we have mainly hardy and terrestrial varieties for sale, including cymbidiums, slipper orchids 
and native varieties,” he adds.

The couple’s plants are sold online,
by appointment and through occasional open days at the nursery, while Daniel 
also gives talks at local gardening clubs 
and orchid societies. n

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