FEW plants can match the beauty of the bloom of an orchid.
Despite their exotic origins many species can today be grown in the home without the need for specialist equipment and can, surprisingly, make very easy houseplants.
This week we take a look at some of the most popular orchids and how to keep them feeling at home in ours.
Not only the easiest orchid, the Cymbidium probably rivals the likes of the spider plant for thriving on neglect.
Give the long grassy foliage plenty of room in a cool bright space and you will have a happy cymbidium.
Flower spikes usually develop during the summer months, and a large plant can produce anything up to six, providing a wealth of bloom throughout autumn, winter and spring.
Giving the plants a summer holiday outdoors in the sunshine will help encourage more spikes and, just like us, your plant will appreciate the fresh air.
Never let your plant become waterlogged, although this shouldn't prevent you giving plenty during the summer when it produces much new growth.
Feed should be given sparingly during the winter; otherwise fortnightly feeds during the rest of the year help support all the activity.
Cymbidiums love to be crowded in their pot; resist transferring them into something larger until you can see the pot actually breaking.
When repotting move the entire plant into a slightly larger pot, or divide it into several smaller plants which should have a minimum of a cluster of three bulbs at the base.
Phalaenopsis (Moth Orchid)
The moth orchid is soaring in popularity, which, considering its irresistible blooms and suitability to modern homes, is no surprise.
These compact plants are well suited to the window sill where they will enjoy the plentiful light.
Fortunately Phalaenopsis enjoys the rather warmer temperatures of our homes, although this must be counteracted by providing some additional humidity.
Place the plant on a tray containing gravel and water (although ensure the water level never rises as far as the base of the pot) so that the water evaporates around the plant. Mist spray your plants with water too.
One of the greatest things about Phalaenopsis is the long lasting blooms; it really is possible to have a plant blooming for months on end.
Once the blooms do eventually decide to wither and fall off, cut the stem back to where the final bloom was and, hey presto, you should be presented with another stem of flowers a few weeks later.
An abundance of bloom sees the Dendrobium becoming another favourite.
It's just small enough to grow on a window sill but the tall, showy flower spikes make it a must for the home.
While preferring to be grown the same way as a Phalaenopsis, the Dendrobium is a plant which likes to be left alone.
Satisfy its need for plenty of humidity and an adequate supply of water, feed through the year, and it will remain happy.
Avoid re-potting unless absolutely necessary as they hate being disturbed. A real sleeping beauty.
Paphiopedilum (Lady's Slipper Orchid)
What this plant lacks in quantity it sure makes up for in quality when you look at the detail of these amazing blooms.
The small, compact plants are ideal window sill subjects and enjoy a bit of warmth.
Daily mist spraying is an absolute must, as is regular watering.
As with all orchids, ensure they are grown in a purpose-made orchid compost that is coarse and free-draining.