Orchid pruning is an often overlooked subject. There are a few occasions when you should prune orchids and your plant will benefit immensely. Most people recoil in horror at the thought of taking a pair of secateurs to their prize orchid. What’s the worst that can happen? Remember it’s only a plant, no one will die and probably not the orchid either. In truth, orchids require very little pruning compared to most other plants. So when and why do I prune orchids?
The Main Reasons for Orchid Pruning:
To remove any dead and possibly diseased material. This can be done at any time of the year but especially in the winter. You should always cut away any dead parts of the plant immediately. Dead tissue can attract pests and diseases onto an otherwise healthy plant. This is true for most plants, it is good practice to keep plants clean and free from debris. When you are repotting orchids it is also good to check the root system carefully. Prune back any dead or dying roots and dispose of them well away from any plants. Remember to practice good hygiene at all times.
To shape your plant and improve vigor. This should be done sparingly, too much pruning can damage or even kill your plant so think before you cut. If your plant is getting into a bad or untidy shape you can trim it back a little to help the general look of the plant. Bear in mind that doing so may reduce the flowers for that season. Pruning back long untidy shoots can also encourage more growth from below and improve the vigor of your orchid. Keep focused on why you grow orchids – is it for the shape of the plant? – or is it for the beautiful flowers? I know why I grow orchids and I will always sacrifice plant shape for wonderful blooms.
To encourage flowering. Most orchid types will benefit from having the old dying flower spikes removed. When the flower spike or stem becomes discolored and shriveled you should prune it back to about an inch from the main stem. This will help to encourage more flowers next season, or even this season depending on the variety. There can be some variations of this technique so check your variety.
When orchid pruning you must always take some care with hygiene. Always use a disinfectant on sharp secateurs and dispose of any plant material you remove. If you are working on several different plants, prune orchids one at a time and disinfect your secateurs between each plant. These guidelines are good for most orchids but you should always check your specific type of orchid and see if it has any special requirements.Check out my article on orchid books to find good reference books to help with identification of your plants and for detailed instructions of pruning the different types of orchid.
So don’t let fear stop you pruning orchids – it’s easy and can greatly improve your plants!
Some tools you will find useful:
The Felco F-2 Classic Manual Hand Pruner has a comfortable, light, sturdy handle made of forged aluminum with a limited lifetime guarantee. The blade is made of high-quality hardened steel, which allows clean, precise cuts…
The Felco Classic Pruner for Smaller Hands has acomfortable, light, sturdy handle made of forged aluminum with a limited lifetime guarantee. The blade is made of high-quality hardened steel, which allows clean, precise cuts.
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