Monopodial vs. Sympodial orchids

With a shiny new Glossary page, it’s time to start tackling some of the terms listed on it. The first of which will be ‘Monopodial’ and ‘Sympodial’. These two terms refer to an orchids growth pattern, and there are distinct differences between them.

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New Orchid Glossary Page!

You know when you start learning about a new hobby or interest, there are more experienced people that use specific terms or phrases that you have no idea about? Well, that has happened several times to me with this orchid hobby, and the only way I can get my head around all these new words is to write them down. To that end, I have created a new page on this blog – a Glossary page!

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Orchid SOS: Miltoniopsis ‘World Cup’

A few weeks ago I posted about a Cattleya orchid that I purchased at an orchid show in November 2016. It was not the only one – I also purchased a Miltoniopsis ‘World Cup’.


It is obviously a healthy green colour and had been doing well. I didn’t repot it when I brought it home because it is a young orchid and disturbing it might be detrimental to its growth.

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Magnesium Deficiency in Orchids

As the winter draws on, we are all wrapping up warm and looking after ourselves to prevent coughs and colds getting the better of us. I’ve been looking at my orchids lately, two in particular, and thinking “why don’t you look 100%?”

Google is quickly becoming my best friend.

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Happy New Year!


With 2016 drawing to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on the successes and things we could improve on in the New Year. Most of us will have New Year’s resolutions – maybe you want to lose some weight or gain fitness, or maybe it will be to finally get around to finishing that job you have been putting off for the last few years.

I have my own New Year’s resolutions, but mine is more about making small changes to my lifestyle that will hopefully benefit myself and my family, as well as this beautiful planet we live on. I do also have some orchid resolutions too (what a surprise, I hear you cry!).

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Christmas arrived early!

A very good friend of mine gave me a Phalaenopsis orchid as a gift when my partner and I moved in together 18 months ago. It stopped blooming shortly afterwards and hasn’t bloomed for me since…until now!

In desperation (frustration really), I ranted at this orchid a few days ago – “Please grow a flower spike for me, I haven’t seen you bloom for absolutely ages and I have almost forgotten what you look like!”. After accidently knocking a piece of bark media away from the stem of this orchid, I looked closer at the base of the stem and realised she was doing just that. The spike is tiny at the moment, but it has a distinctive ‘claw’ shape rather than the rounded root tip shape.


Excitement does quite cover it. Elation perhaps? This orchid has refused to bloom for what feels like an eternity, and now finally she has changed her mind. Christmas has arrived early for me!

Another Phal moved into my care just a couple of months ago. It was dehydrated, all its blooms had blasted (died before they opened) and I think it also had a few pest problems. After a lot of T.L.C. it has put down new roots. The orchid had to be tethered to a stake with parcel ribbon (the stuff you need scissors to curl) because it was unstable in its pot. The other day a little voice in my head said ‘look underneath the ribbon’. This is what I saw…


Yup, another flower spike! Now, the first Phal hasn’t bloomed in 18 months so that’s kind of a big deal to me, but this new Phal is also a pleasant surprise. It shows just how fast an orchid can recover from improper care. The plant world is just amazing to me and how it can adapt to new surroundings.

When you spend a lot of time caring and nurturing your orchids, it’s just fantastic when it rewards you with a flower spike. You know you have done something right in order for the orchid to think it’s ok to bloom. Absolutely, one of the best gifts to receive!

I’ll post some updates when these two have bloomed, so you can see what they look like.

Merry Christmas!


Humidity: When it gets too low

With the onset of winter, most of us will be putting on our central heating to keep warm. For most orchids growers, this can present a challenge – keeping humidity up. Humidity doesn’t have an adverse affect on Phals (at least in my experience) however, it can affect Oncidium type orchids.

The grow space for my orchids is ideal – good ventilation, light, heat and of course, humidity. My collection sit within a deep bay window in our living room, and it seems to suit them very well. However, it does have single glazed windows and the night temperatures in winter drop to lower than I am happy to allow my orchids to be in given that they like intermediate temperatures (18c-25c). Even purchasing a tube heater hasn’t made a big enough impact on the night temperatures, so they have all been moved!

Now these orchids are in the house properly, I face a problem. Low humidity. In the bay window, the orchids had between 45% – 75% humidity which was perfect for them all. In their new space, the hygrometer has yet to show a reading above 38% and the effects of this drop in humidity are already appearing on my orchids (I only moved them a few nights ago). This is predominantly caused by the central heating being switched on. The heat from the radiators makes the area inside the room drier than in the bay window space.

As I said, my Phals don’t really seem to show any signs of low humidity being a problem for them. I am referring to my Oncidium type orchids.

The worst affected so far is my Oncidium Twinkle. She is a compact grower with very small pink flowers that fill the room with fragrance when she is in bloom. When she is not receiving enough moisture around the roots, leaves and flowers, she is very quick to let me know she is not happy about it!


You can see from the photograph that her leaves are beginning to crinkle. This started to happen not long after I moved her more indoors. You can see how tight the crinkles are. If the whole plant does this, I could have problems. The wrinkling leaves will never un-wrinkle and can cause problems when other leaves or flower spikes start to grow. The crinkling can cause the new leaves to crinkle and the flower spikes to buckle or bend in strange directions if left to their own devices.


What to do about it then? I already mist my orchids once every day, and this worked very well when they were still resident within the bay window. Now they have moved, I need to look at increasing the humidity somehow. The most obvious option would be to increase the number of times I mist them everyday, which I am already doing. However, this is only a short term fix – the humidity around my orchids only lasts for a short time. Another option then would be to add humidity trays to increase the moisture around my orchids. There are also humidifiers on the market at relatively low prices that could be purchased – but I’d prefer to use what’s available to me first before I start spending money. If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to post a comment!

I’ll keep you updated on this topic. Hopefully I will find a suitable solution soon.

Happy growing!