Elegant, effortlessly beautiful, long-blooming and deliciously fragrant. Because of these superpowers, you’ll find these exotic beauties catching some indirect sunlight at Jessica Blundell’s home.
For the operations manager at the Flower Factory Kenya, orchids add traces of nature to her living room, kitchen, and bathroom.
“I love them because they add pops of intense colour wherever you place them, be it indoors or outdoors,” she says while at their garden centre located inside Talisman Restaurant on Ngong’ Road. “Characterwise, they’re simple and peaceful.”
Flower Factory Kenya has been selling an assortment of indoor and outdoor plants and herbs since March 2021. Orchids are identified by their characteristic petals that are rich in colour ranging from pure white to pink to yellows and oranges. The four common types are the Cattleya, Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilum, and the Dendrobium.
Ms Blundell shares her tips on growing and caring for orchids in your home garden.
If you buy an orchid from a garden centre, it will most likely be showing off its bloom power. The first step to repotting it is allowing yourself to enjoy the bloom. Most blooms last up to six months depending on the time it was purchased.
Repotting it while in bloom will most likely kill it because of environmental shock. Once the flower dies, cut it off and transfer it to its new abode, supporting it on a bamboo straw until it can anchor itself.
Flower Factory Kenya sells the Phalaenopsis and the Dendrobium orchid species at Sh3,900 per plant and the dyed blue orchids at Sh4,300.
Optimal growing conditions
Orchids are delicate in nature. They are better off potted as one can create an optimum growing environment for them with enough light, water and temperatures. Generally, an orchid is a low-maintenance plant if its foundation is set right.
The fastest way to kill an orchid is by planting it in soil. “We advise our clients to house them in potting mix which is a mixture of peat moss, coco peat and vermiculite as most soils are too heavy and hold too much water,” the operations manager says.
Put this growing medium in a well-draining pot that will allow air circulation needed for the plant to thrive. “Place these rewarding plants under strong, indirect sunlight. Under direct sunlight they’ll burn out and die, instead of living up to their potential,” she says.
As for watering, thoroughly drench them in water usually once a week. Every 5-7 days during warmer weather and 7-10 days when it’s cooler. Do allow them to dry out slightly before watering again.
Orchids are designed to survive thirsty days than flooded ones as they are adept to hoard this precious liquid in their thick leaves, stems and roots. “use orchid fertiliser, feeding it once every other month,” she adds
Pest and diseases
“Potting orchids keep pests and diseases to a minimum. Mealybugs, however, may find their way in. If you do notice these invaders, separate the plant from the others, and wipe it down with a clean, damp cloth,” the flower enthusiast says.
These are tropical, herbaceous plants that grow from a bulb. Coming in a wide range of colours, calla lilies are attention-demanding, graceful, exotic, and fiery. Their bloom power lasts for a day and comes in a wide range of colours – white, yellow, pink, purple, red and reddish-orange.
“I love them because they’re vibrant and have uniformity in leaves and flower shape which make them easy to style,” shares Ms Blundell. “When planted properly, they’re low maintenance plants.” A plant costs Sh1,200.
Repotting Calla lilies
“I recommend repotting lilies in well-drained, loose soil,” the nature lover says. “When repotting, apply a slow release fertiliser at the beginning. We normally use Osmocote Exact, a standard high K fertiliser.” The fertiliser retails at Sh950.
In the terracotta pot, bury the bulbs deep in the soil. One advantage of growing callas is being able to contain them since they can be invasive.
Optimal growing conditions
Calla lilies thrive under partial sun and shade. Getting the balance right is important. Aim for a spot receiving a burst of morning sun followed by a shady afternoon. They especially like the cold weather, which is why they are in high demand during this time of the year.
To Keep Calla lilies pest and disease free don't plant them on the ground; pot them instead. Keep the soil moist to avoid soft rot and other fungal diseases.