Let Orchids Bloom Again After Chinese New Year

Holistic Education

Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG) would like to urge the public to help conserve orchids by protecting the wild orchids, and educate them the ways to take care of the potted Moth Orchid after Chinese New Year.

Orchids are regarded as one of the four gentlemen in ancient Chinese culture, and they have often been used to symbolise humility and grace. However, as time has passed, people’s attitude towards nature has changed from respect to vanity. Due to forest destruction and the commercial value of orchids in the market, wild orchids have been pushed to the brink of extinction.

Dr Stephan Gale, an experienced botanist, has been working on orchid conservation at KFBG for six years. His studies have confirmed that Hong Kong has over 130 different kinds of wild orchids. Dr Gale adds that in the past there was a great abundance of wild orchids found across southern China. However, wild orchids now face two major threats. “The natural environment in this region has changed drastically due to a burgeoning human population and pressures in land use caused by the expansion of agriculture, so unfortunately many orchid species are under threat, and some have already disappeared.” The other main threat is the use of wild orchids for horticulture and in Chinese medicine, demand for which has increased enormously within the last two decades. Many plants are collected from the remaining forest fragments, leading to further reduction in the numbers and abundance of wild orchid species.

The right way to protect orchids is to make sure you don’t buy orchids collected from the wild. Those grown in nurseries are usually potted in uniform batches. They look healthy and are of the same size and standard. In contrast, plants collected from the wild are usually on sale in random mixtures of different species, ages and sizes. Typically they are not potted and their roots are unhealthy. The leaves often show signs of a wild upbringing, such as sunburn, wrinkles and insect bites. If you are unsure, always think twice and ask the vendor.

Another important reminder for orchid lovers is to cultivate a patient heart when growing these plants at home. Many people like to buy orchids during Chinese New Year, but then discard them after they’ve finished flowering. Learn the following steps and let your orchids bloom again year after year! 


Steps for re-potting your orchid:

Step 1: Get your tools ready: scissors, moss and potting mixture (charcoal, bark and stones) from sustainable sources, an organic fertiliser and a clay pot.

Step 2: Cut away rotten roots and remove the withering flowering shoot once it has finished blooming.

Step 3: Place the orchid inside the pot and fill up to the rim with potting mixture and a top layer of moss.

Step 4: Place the fertiliser near the base of the plant.

Step 5: Water the roots (not the leaves) thoroughly until water drains out from the holes.

Orchids enjoy indirect sunlight and an airy environment, so are best placed near a window or on the balcony.

KFBG will set up a display on the theme of orchid ecology and conservation at the “Hong Kong Flower Show 2015”, which runs from 20 to 29 March in Victoria Park in Causeway bay. Come and visit to learn more growing tips and how to protect these fascinating plants!

Watch the tutorial video on YouTube: