How do I hate thee orchids… let me count the ways

Orchid pictureThe annual Orchid Festival at Kew Gardens is coming up over the next few weeks and as a member, I have received a tidal wave of spam about the ghastly things. I thought it was timely therefore to share some of the many reasons that I despise orchids.

To begin with, I hate the look of them. The sombre drooping leaves, the long stem, topped with a flower that looks like the face of an insect under a microscope. It looks like the worst kind of insect, the type that lays its eggs in the brain of a caterpillar.  And that’s when they’re at their best! In a botanical garden as part of a special festival, or in the shop, in the packaging, alongside a dozen identical versions. At their absolute best- they are ugly.

Image thanks to L’eau Bleue

Most of  the time however, they don’t look like this. Most of the time, when they are in the window of a Chinese restaurant or a student flat, or the windowsill of a kitchen next to a packet of batteries, an elastic band and a dusty Tupperware lunchbox, they are starting to droop. The flowers aren’t big, with their horrible little faces beaming with colour. In fact, there is no flower. All that exists is a pot full of dirt, a curly winding root, a dark, dank leaf. The shrivelled gnarled, barren stem pointing towards the sky, empty of life.


It’s also a matter of taste. They are so ubiquitous, but the colours and their appearance mean that they always look out of place. They often pop up next to something that clashes terribly with the deep mauve colour of the flower (which incidentally reminds me of the jarring pink/purple colour in the standard palette on early versions of Microsoft Paint). Yet, they also have the ability to add nothing of any real style or substance to a room when matched perfectly with their surroundings, they are the plant equivalent of a canvas with pebbles on it.

Then for their personality. Their demanding nature, they must have their own compost, a specific type of pot that allows the roots to get light, but they mustn’t be moved from their original pot. Not too much water, not too little. Not too much heat, not too humid but a little, not too close to the window.

They are ugly and delicate, on the brink of death at all times.

I don’t mind hard work when I feel the end product is worth it. But I don’t think they are. They are not worth the time, effort and emotion that’s required to tend to them. That’s irrelevant though – even if they were the easiest plant in the world to tend to, I’m not sure why anyone is buying them. They are hideous.

The internet is clogged with pages and pages of intricate instructions about how to care for the silly little plant. Hundreds of pleading owners, searching for the answers to why their orchid is disappointing them so.

If you type ‘why orchid’ into google, you’re faced with some of their demands:

Why is my orchid’s leaves turning yellow?
Why is my orchids’ leaves falling off?
Why won’t my orchid bloom?
Why are my orchid’s leaves curling?
Why do orchid’s lose their flowers?
Why is my orchid dying?

They are the flower-equivalent of my least favourite type of person. The person that comes to an event, yet says nothing. Asks no questions, answers with yes/no answers. Has allergies and dietary requirements aplenty but when presented with a vegan, gluten free meal that has been specially made, doesn’t even show any gratitude.  They contribute nothing, but demand unlimited energy and attention from the host.

They are the troublesome, ungrateful, sullen teenager, with parents that beg it to go to school, to revise for exams. That has had hours of expensive private tuition that the other children (i.e. other plants – please keep up) would kill for. They demand unlimited attention, but in return provide no joy.



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