One of the year’s most spectacular displays of tropical orchids is now open to the public at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in London.
For the first time, Kew is taking the orchids of Thailand as the inspiration for its annual Orchids Festival this year. Inside the tropical paradise of the Princess of Wales Conservatory, visitors will get a chance to shake off the winter blues and enjoy spectacularly colourful floral displays created with dozens of different varieties of orchid.
A magnificently colourful tunnel of Vanda orchids with three arches delicately covered with hanging blooms leads to handcrafted floating Thai umbrellas and an exquisite orchid palace inspired by the Thai Royal Family’s palace, Bang Pa-In. A traditional Thai market boat and rice paddy complete the scene.
Once you’ve returned full of inspiration pop into the garden centre here in Poynings and create your own slice of the tropics with a selection of the wonderful orchids we can offer for your home. Start with an easy-to-care-for moth (Phalaenopsis) orchid, and once you get the bug, build a collection: others you can try in your home are Cymbidium, Dendrobium and the exquisitely beautiful slipper orchid, Paphiopedilum.
Most orchids are epiphytic, meaning they don’t root into soil but use trees or rocks as a support, feeding from debris accumulated around the roots. This means they need special, very open and free-draining orchid compost and form aerial roots outside the container. These should be left free, without burying them, so they can draw moisture from the air.
Put your orchid in bright light but not direct sunlight, and don’t overwater: once a week is plenty, using tepid rainwater. Keep the roots misted with water, or grow in a high-humidity environment like the bathroom. With care, your orchid should put out those long-lasting, impossibly exotic flower spikes for many years to come.