THE plant most feared by the average gardener, but one of the most breathtaking flowering specimens devised by Mother Nature is the Cymbidium orchid.
The fear is largely unfounded, for in fact orchids flourish with the same amount of attention that any plant requires.
Cymbidium orchids bloom during winter, which unfortunately means there won't be too many more available in flower until next May.
They are quite affordable, providing great colour inside during winter.
After flowering has finished the orchid will need a spell outdoors to produce blooms for next season.
Being native to the Himalayas, cymbidiums require less fuss than other species - they are even happy outside in pots or in the garden where they receive a little morning sun.
Re-potting seems to be the subject that concerns new orchid growers, though it isn't a major problem as plants can multiply for at least three years in an average sized pot.
The indication for potting up is when the bulbs become overcrowded or when the potting medium decomposes.
Simply buy a reputable orchid potting mix and wait until flowering has finished before re-potting.
The ideal time is September or early October - from mid October onwards the plants are growing and any interference during the warm weather can cause the bulbs to shrink.
This rule isn't hard and fast as orchids are great survivors. So, if it is necessary to increase the pot size at other times, make sure the roots aren't disturbed.
Division of orchids is a totally different ball game than re-potting. Care is definitely needed, as well as a little knowledge, because division of the bulbs will often delay flowering for a couple of seasons.
Soluble fertiliser can be applied on a regular basis or you can simply use small amounts of blood and bone.
Don't be worried about investing in an orchid - just remember these simple cultural hints.
Morning sun is fine, don't over water, use a good orchid mix, re-pot when bulbs are overcrowded, apply correct fertiliser.
Then, sit back and enjoy.