Grow with passion and patience

Catesetum is a species of orchid Kenson has in his nursery.

OFTEN we hear that only those who have green thumbs can sow a seed and see it grow and bloom beautifully.

This, however, is false.

The way your plant grows and blooms does not lie in your fingers, but in your interest.

Green Acre Florist and Orchid Shop owner Kenson Lai, who has years of experience grooming and caring for orchids, confirms this.

“Those who wish to grow orchids must have the passion and most importantly, the patience,” he said.

“Orchids are easy to grow, but it takes time for most to bloom.

Dendrobium orchids are easy to care for and is perfect for first time growers.
Dendrobium orchids are easy to care for and are perfect for first-time growers.

“Bear in mind that orchids don’t bloom very often but when they do, they beautify your garden,” he said.

During a visit to his nursery, Lai introduced four different orchids — Vanda, Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis and Brassia.

Among the four, his favourite is the Vanda.

Vanda orchids come in many colours and are perfect for growing in condominiums or apartments.

A species of vanda hanging in his nursery has made Lai very proud.

“It’s called a Mimipalmah, and it smells like jasmine flowers.”

Kenson recommends using organic fertilizers for orchids.
Lai recommends using organic fertilisers for orchids.

“The orchid earned me a bronze award under the ‘Best Plant with Fragrance’ category during the 2004 World Orchid Conference in Malaysia,” he said.

For those who intend to grow orchids, Lai suggests the Dendrobium.

The Dendrobium is found in most nurseries and is sold between RM12 and RM18.

He describes the orchid as the best for first-timers as it is the most basic orchid and it blooms easily.

“It can produce five to six flowers on one stem,” he said.

Orchids are sometimes chosen as gifts and the one that is often picked is the Phalaenopsis.

Kenson Lai has many different types of orchids in his nursery Green Acre Florist and Orchid Shop in Sungai Buloh.
Among the many different types of orchids Lai has in his nursery, Green Acre Florist and Orchid Shop in Sungai Buloh. — Photos by YAP CHEE HONG

Phalaenopsis is considered the most popular orchid given as gifts in Malaysia.

Unlike other orchids, this species requires great care.

Also called the lasting orchid, its flowers bloom and last up to four months, longer than most orchids.

The Brassia, another beautiful orchid in his nursery, is also called the winter woodland orchid.

Brassia orchids are shaped like spiders and are known to be slow bloomers.

Lai said each bulb of the Brassia can have about two flowers and it takes, at most, five months for another bulb to bloom.

While there are many types of orchids, Lai says they all require the same care.

Just like all plants, orchids require only a few things to survive — water, sunlight, fertiliser and love.

Lai recommends using organic fertilisers and not those that are salt-based as they can damage the orchid and stunt its growth.

“Use organic liquid fertilisers like coat 63 to help orchids grow and coat 67 to help them bloom,” Lai said.

These fertilisers should be used twice a week, three days apart.

As for water, orchids should be watered once a day but the Phalaenopsis requires water only once in three days.

Lai’s tip to know if the plant is dehydrated is to simply check its bulb.

“If there are wrinkle marks on the bulb, your plant lacks water,” he said.

To ensure the plant is hydrated, Lai said to place charcoal or sawdust around the orchid as these items will absorb water and store it for the orchid’s use.

He added that some people tend to use egg shells but this will only damage the orchid as the shells can have bacteria.

Orchids also require sunlight but they should be kept in a shaded area, with at least 50% sunlight.

He also suggested allowing the orchid to grow before dividing them into separate pots to avoid stunting the orchid’s growth.

Pots should be changed at least once a year while charcoal should be changed once white spots form.

Lastly, serenade your plants with sweet words and watch them grow beautifully.

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