Growing Orchids

The orchid family is the largest group of flowering plants in the world, with over 25,000 different species and many more manmade hybrids. However, a lot of gardeners will not attempt to grow orchids, believing they are too much work. Angus, looks at the easy to grow types of orchids, which can give you plenty of satisfaction.

Like most plants, orchids will produce magnificent blooms under the right growing conditions. A warm, humid spot, with plenty of filtered light and good air circulation are the basic requirements. Orchid flowers consist of three outer sepals and three inner petals, the lower of which is called the labellum or more commonly the lip.

We visit Bob Murray at Yarrum Orchids to look at his collection of over 6,000 orchids. Of all of the different types of orchids the Cymbidium orchid is the most commonly grown. They are favourites with gardeners for good reason; that given the right conditions they produce blooms unsurpassed in quantity and quality.

If you live in a warm, frost free climate it is quite feasible to grow the more adaptable orchids such as Cymbidiums outdoors. Orchids can be grown in pots but it is preferable to simulate their natural growing conditions in the wild by growing them in an old tree stump or on a rock.

The ideal situation for growing orchids is a shade house with 50% shade. If you grow them outside it is best to grow them under a tree in semi shade - make sure they are not subjected to frost or 40 degree heat, and never put them in the soil, either bury the pot in the ground or dig a hole and fill with bark and then plant the orchid.

How To Propagate An Orchid?

The first step is to remove the orchid from the pot, if the orchid is stuck firmly in the pot, upend the pot and tap the orchid and it should come out much easier. You'll need to look for a natural plane of division. Place your hands on either side of where you are dividing and ease it apart so you don't cause too much damage to the roots. This will give you two sections to re-pot.

It is important when you are dividing orchids not to get too greedy, you need at least 3 bulbs in each pot (actually pseudo bulbs - not true bulbs). You will have the old bulb, which feeds the newer structures; the current bulb which has produced a flower this year and a new bulb which will produce next year's flower.


Cymbidiums are prone to fungus but this can be controlled by commercially available products - check with your local nursery. They are subject to slugs and snails and also to the Dendrobium Beetle, (although he is called the Dendrobium Beetle he will eat almost any kind of orchid). These are difficult to kill as they lay their larvae in the top of the orchid spike and you will find in about a month's time the orchid has just rotted away.

Bob Murray
Yarrum Orchids
Ph: 02 4373 1158

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