Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Growing Orchids In Sydney

Although spring officially begins on the 1st of September in Australia, it has started ten days earlier in our garden with the bloom of the first flower on a arching spray of unopened buds of our neglected Cymbidium orchid plant. It has rusty brown petals with a wonderfully garish and extravagantly sized purple and white lip.

I began interested in growing orchids out of fascination with the delicate beauty of bloom and their native habitats from where they grow, but I think the stage was set by my experiences when I was working as a young forester in the tropical jungle of Papua New Guinea. But my interest waned when I returned to live in Sydney, as I was frustrated of not knowing how to care for them in a different environment and climate change, never knowing when to water, when to fertilize or to keep them indoor or to prevent the winter frost. Just like the orchid, I am originally from the tropics and have yet to learn how to acclimatise in colder climate :). Through the years, I have diminished the lives of many orchid plants and sent them back to their heavenly tropical paradise home in the sky. I gave up in despair, and sure that I hadn't the knack to raise these beauties until now.


  1. Hi Uncle Philip, like yourself I didn't think I could grow orchids. But I now have a few different varieties in my collection. When in flower they do last for quite awhile. when the flowers are spent, I usually cut it right down to it's base. I'm going off topic now, do you have any pandan plants in your garden. I would love to grow this plant for culinary use. I can buy pandan leaves from china town, but I would prefer to grow my own.

  2. Hi Petal,
    With orchids you must persevere, they do challenge us by seductively withholding flowers during some seasons. Although I could nurture them while in bloom, but it is the non-bloom period that they get neglected. Haha. My pandan didn't do well in the veranda this winter. I hope to beg for a cutting from a friend in Brissy when I next visit.
    Btw, are you in Brissy or Perth? Melbourne will be too cold for pandan unless you grow them in a greenhouse.

  3. Mi no gat orchid plant, tasol Mi save em i bigpela hard wok (difficult) long keep orchid plant.

  4. Hello Uncle Phil,
    any tips to share ? I think I water mine too much.

  5. Hi YK,
    Hem nau, hemi olsem bonsai na hat wok tru long lukautim. Ya. bonsai b'long yu stap yet long garden nogat?

  6. Hi Clare,
    Watering your orchid plants in containers is always a little difficult because the roots are so moisture sensitive and you can water them to death. Never leave your plants soak in a bucket of water like many beginners do. I know it is the water saving habit you have learned as a Singaporean. You will see the velamen start to peel and rot away if you do that. Mushy, rotting roots most probably mean you are overwatering.

  7. Bonsai b'long mi, hem i go pinis long wantok.
    Bikos father b'long mi dai pinis, mi no save lukautim hem.

  8. Hi Yk,
    Hemi orait. Yu no lapun yet oslem mi. Mi statim planim sumpela bonsai pinis. Bai mi postim foto b'long bonsai long dispela blog.

  9. We were given a pot of orchids.. it's been flowerless for over 3 years now. I wonder if it's dead?

  10. Just realised this morning my orchids are flowering again! It's a miracle!

  11. Uncle Phil, I'm not in OZ. I'm in the Uk. In Europe if your orchids don't flower. Place it in the garden in summer till the first frost, then bring it indoors. I guaranteed it will flower in a week or two.

  12. Also may I add Uncle Phil that orchid is one of the most popular choices of houseplant. This is because there are a lot of types of orchids we can choose from, they don't need too much attention aside from the basics, and because even beginner gardeners can try growing orchids because it is so easy. It is a hardy plant that can adapt well in either house or office environments.