Wednesday 5 June 2013


I have a famous plant in my garden. It is a Libertia. This particular specimen was one of those used in a display at the Chelsea Flower Show a few years ago. Jane won it along with two others, in a competition. We gave away two, but the third one lives with us still. If you want to read about the garden in which this plant featured, you can find the details HERE.

The beautiful, three-petalled, bright white flowers of this plant look almost like orchids:

They grow on thin stems about 3 feet tall, which shoot up from the midst of an unruly clump of spiky leaves:

This year the plant has at least 25 flower-stalks.

In the past it has only produced about 5 or 6 each year. I put this improved performance down to the maintenance I did on it last year - I pulled out all the old dead brown leaves. If you tug them sharply they detach right from the base. Previously I had pulled out a few of the leaves (mainly for aesthetic purposes), but this time I was thorough, and it seems to have completely re-invigorated the plant.

Indoors we have a genuine orchid - well, two actually, planted at opposite sides of an oval pot. These were given to Jane last year by our daughter Emma as a Mother's Day present. At that time they were flowering, and they looked lovely. They had white flowers. When the flowers died (and the plants officially became mine as opposed to Jane's!) I cut the stalks down to ground level and put the plants on a windowsill in a spare room. Every so often I watered them and misted the leaves with a fine spray. Now some more flower-stalks are growing, so I have moved the plants into a more prominent position, in our Living Room.

The orchids are the ones with the broad leaves. I'm not sure what the other plants are. They seem to have been intended just to contribute foliage. They certainly didn't have any flowers last year. The orchid flower-stems are growing very rapidly. This is what they look like at present:

Those look to me like flower-buds, so hopefully we will soon have another fine display.


  1. I love orchids, mine grow year after year, but the flowers do not always come back white, like you I treat them mean after flowering.

  2. Libertia has a lovely flower and is an interesting plant. Like you Mark, I found that mine developed ugly brown foliage that had to be pruned away. I lost mine in the winter of 2010, I am not sure I am really bothered.
    I have also tried new libertia varieties with lovely coloured leaves and failed to overwinter them too. Isn't gardening fun!

  3. What pretty flowers on the Libertia. I'm sure your maintenance last year has helped it along. I can never seem to keep orchids alive in the house, and I've tried many times. I don't think they enjoy the room temperature.

  4. I am very honoured to have met this plant !

  5. I haven't had an orchid in a long time. Look forward to seeing yours flower. I believe I have the other flowers hear though in the yard.

  6. I've never seen libertia before, but it looks pretty.
    Orchids like yours (phalaenopsis) are easy to keep, I find. They don't like direct sunlight and prefer high air moisture. I keep mine on a north-facing kitchen window. Cut back stalks only when they are completely dry. They might grow new blossoms from existing stems.
    Spraying/misting them is the right thing to do. I only spray the substratum too. When you pour in water it just runs straight through and collects at the bottom of the pot - but they don't like wet feet. Often the plants come in plastic pots and some sort of cachepot. Then you could submerge the plastic pot in water (preferably rainwater at roomtemperature) for a while and let the substratum and plant suck up the water. Let it drain a while before putting it back in the cachepot.
    I blogged about my phalaenopsis yesterday, so have a look if you like! So far I haven't been too lucky with other types of orchids. My dendrobium is finally growing leaves after over a year of doing nothing.
    I hope you don't mind this long comment ;)
    Greetings from Austria!

  7. You are becoming a flower convert, Mark. One of my orchids is producing a flower stalk but the other resolutely refuses to flower again despite being given exactly the same treatment.

  8. I use the soak the orchid then allow to drain thoroughly method. they bloom annually or so. I second Sue's comment. What's happening? Value in non-edible plants? Shocking!


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