As the 2018 Tauranga Orchid Show draws nearer, newer members may be wondering how to prepare their plants for the show. Here is some sterling advice gleaned from experience:
- If you haven’t already put in flower stakes to show off your spikes to best advantage, do it now, carefully. Once in, cut the stakes off level with the flowers. Use a small, neat tie to secure the spike to the stake, preferably in green or a neutral colour. Keep the top tie loose so that if the spike is still growing it has the chance to do so without being trapped and distorted. Try to keep your plant facing the same direction as this will stop flowers twisting on the stem. If individual flowers on a stem are facing the wrong way, gradually turn and tie, to lock them correctly before they naturally ‘set’ in position.
- Gently tear away sheaths from around the spike on cymbidiums. This will release any trapped water and reduce the risk of spike rot. It also allow the spike to grow stronger and firmer with even colouring.
- Check your pots for ‘passengers’ – snails/slugs, ants, etc. Sprinkle slug bait on top of the bark; and/or sprinkle ant sand on top (it works quickly). Sprinkle slug bait on the floor of your shadehouse to capture any lurking there.
- Ants are a sign there are pests on the plant – they ‘farm’ scale and aphids for the honeydew they produce. Scale comes in many shapes, sizes, colours and forms. Some are like grease spots on leaves, others have a round armoured shell. There are several approaches to removing scale and aphids:
- With your fingers, or for the grooves in hard-cane Dendrobiums gently scrape with a satay stick or similar
- Wipe leaves, pseudobulbs and canes with diluted ‘all seasons oil’ (Conqueror oil, Neem oil), which will also shine the leaves. Oil works by smothering scale so make sure all problem areas are treated (ie, look under the leaves). Do not do this on plants in bright sunlight. To read more about pests and how to control them, refer to this newsletter.
- If all you’re after is a leaf shine, use a soft cloth dipped in milk (you may need to do it more than once for best results).
- Remove untidy or marked leaves, or ‘sharpen’ them using sterilized scissors (cut the leaf into a point, resembling the end of a natural leaf). Use pliers to remove any old husks and flower stalks from larger plants like Cymbidiums. Twist and pull, or cut out (with sterile tools) any shrivelled, leafless canes from hard-cane Dendrobiums (do not remove leafless canes from soft-cane Dendrobiums as these will reflower).
- If the surface bark on a pot is looking old, remove a layer and replace it with new bark. This will do wonders for the look of the plant.
- You may have an orchid in a bag that has slumped sideways. No need to repot it – simply put it in a larger pot and top up with fresh bark. (Afterwards though, do repot it.)
- Clean up your plant’s label or better still, write a new one, and wash pots or bags. Place the label facing forward at the front of the pot.
- Write your name on a sticky label (piece of duct tape) and put at the back of the pot or underneath it. A great help when dismantling the show. Unfortunately, we sometimes end up with uncollected plants as the show is packed up and having your name on your plant will help us return it.
Please deliver plants to the Racecourse hall from 2pm on Thursday, September 27. We’re so looking forward to seeing your wonderful plants at the show!