Question and Answer

From: "r-r" <>
Subject: RE: How to look after my orchid
Date sent: Sun, 13 Jan 2002

Dear Phil

I have been given an orchid for my birthday in November, but haven't got the faintest idea how to look after it. In particular I'm after general knowledge of how to:

* Water (when and how much and how often)
* Feed (when and how much and how often)
* Place them (direct or indirect light)
* Pruning or dead heading.

Would you be able to provide me with some information so I can look after this wonderful plant.

Thank you for your help in advance.


Hi Rene

Before I give cultural advice, does the plant have a label with a name. If > not, does it have long grass like leaves. If it is in flower, have a look > at > my photo gallery page and look at the cymbidium pages and let me know if the flowers look similar.
Once I have identified the plant I can answer your question more completely



Thanks for your e-mail. The name tag says Balky Darwin.Of the 5 bulbs, 3 have good growth and 2 are dormant.

The 1 flower spike is starting to die and the leaves are yellowing. I have it inside with doors and windows usually open.

Regards Rene.
Hi Rene

I had hoped the label would tell me more, but I presume from your description that the plant is a cymbidium, as this is the most commonly cultivated orchid in this country.

To understand the culture of these plants, there is a lot if information on my site

It start I suggest you read the page on seasonal culture at This has the
basic cultural information for the year. Much more detailed information is available on the monthly cultural pages which start at That page also includes links to other pages, such as on repotting, fertilisers labels etc which should also be of assistance.

You may also find it useful to read the pages on growth and development at

To ensure flowering it is important that they receive plenty of air and water at this time of the year; place outside under the outer branches of a tree where they receive bright but dappled midday sun. They need cool conditions at this time of the year for bud initiation, which they cannot receive when kept inside, especially a closed glasshouse or similar.

Watering will need to be twice a week or so; but you must allow the top 20-30 mm of mix at the top of the pot to dry out before watering again. When you water, ensure water runs freely from the drainage holes of the pot. As conditions cool in the a autumn obviously watering frequency will reduce.

Apply fertiliser every watering at his time fo the year, at around 50% of the usual application rate Any general purpose fertliser is suitable.

The use of epsom salts at this time of the year can also encourage flowering. See the cultural notes and fertiliser pages.

Break off the old flower spikes once they are dead. Just remove dead leaves.

I hope this information assists. If you have any further questions etc. please get back to me.

Good luck with your orchid. I am sure it will provide much pleasure

With best wishes


Thank you very much. This information provided will be very benificial to us.




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