Irresistible flowers

Orchids are exotic plants. Despite their delicate appearance, some species are robust and can survive quite extreme conditions.

I have an ongoing battle with an old friend over native versus exotic plants. A few years ago, I made him buy a heap of cymbidium orchids. On special for $5 each, how could anyone resist? We drove off amid joyous hot pinks, pale pinks, bright yellows, buttery creams, whites and lavenders.

He probably took his home and killed them behind the garage; I’ve never seen them in his beautiful, totally native garden. Meanwhile, I’m keen to grow more. Cymbidium orchids are probably the most popular in New Zealand and widely available. Despite their delicate appearance, they’re robust and can survive quite extreme conditions. In most parts of the country they’ll do well in a courtyard or under a shady tree, possibly needing a bit of protection from rain and cold during winter. Then they can be brought inside, with the flowers enjoyed for weeks or even months.

Phalaenopsis grow outdoors in the far north and inside in the deep south.

Moth orchids.

About three weeks of night-time temperatures at 11-12oC ensure good bud initiation, but when in flower, keep above 16oC (the odd night at 10oC won’t do any harm). Check out the Sarcochilus Bessie “Buttermilk” ( and  for 160 native species.

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