August 2015: Newsletter 371

July Day Meeting

We had 16 members gather at Elizabeth’s home, to once again admire her lovely gardens and immaculate orchid houses. As usual we enjoyed our cuppa and talk standing around the back porch surrounded by a lovely range of bromeliads, flowering vireyas, neat bedding plants and tidy gardens.

Naturally we roamed up to the bromeliad and orchid houses, to admire Elizabeth’s tidy array of plants all growing so well. Just a month previous, the storms had given her orchid houses a very hard time, with roofing panels torn off and outside plants tossed about. Now you would never know, and her plants are throwing spikes and beginning to flower. It must be down to loving care and the ‘special’ jungle juice she brews up regularly.

July Evening Meeting

Present: 29 members.

Speaker was David Brown, a commercial vireya rhododendron grower, who has his nursery off Wairoa Rd. He and his wife Pauline brought along a wonderful array of vireyas to show and to sell.

Vireya Rhododendrons, otherwise referred to as Malaysian or Tropical Rhododendrons, are made up from a group of species originating from South East Asia. Although referred to as tropical plants, this is not strictly true when it comes to their cultural requirements. The planting site should be sunny to partial shade, but still have good light with excellent drainage. Where possible the position should be frost-free. In areas prone to light frost, protection can be achieved by planting close to the house or under the shelter of high trees and shrubs. They prefer an acid soil and a cool root run. Extract from Browns Nursery website.

Tips from David on the culture and care of vireyas.

Feeding: As vireyas grow the whole year round, and usually flower about 3 times, the more feeding and growth you can promote, the more flowers you will have. David uses a commercial slow-release but recommends we use any general or slow-release fertiliser. He suggests that organic /sheep pellets may assist plants in-ground, but prefers inorganic for potted plants, to provide more nutrients.

Potted Plant Care: While young, these plants require repotting every couple of years, but older plants should be moved on before they become too root-bound. This should be carried out with the minimum of damage to the roots. David uses a Gammans composted bark and fine pumice mix (80:20) and suggests for best results the new mix should be as close as possible to the original. Prepare the new pot and mix, so the plant spends the absolute minimum amount of time exposed to the sun or air. Do not tease, handle or spread the roots out,  as damaged roots can be infected. Do not compact or force the mix in around the roots. Let your watering  settle everything into place.

Position: Light shade will produce a plant that grows large glossy leaves, and flower colours will be more vibrant, but this softer plant can be damaged more easily by frost. Growing in the sun will produce stronger, darker leaves and more flowers, which tend to fade more quickly. When planted in the ground remember, when selecting their placing, that they are frost sensitive. During frosts cover with several layers of frost cloth and remember to tuck or tie in under the bush to prevent rising ground frosts. Layers of newspaper also form an effective frost barrier.

Pruning: David prefers not to prune, unless the plant has become exceedingly leggy. His aim is to produce a compact plant by pinching out the dominant bud from the new growths in the leaf whorl. But at some stage  you must allow the one dominant growth to have flowers. If you are going to prune, feed your plant and 3  months later when your plant is in growth mode, prune back to an old leaf whorl where there are many suppressed buds that can develop.

Lime: Vireyas prefer a low pH or sour soil. Use gypsum instead of lime or Dolomite.

Dead-heading: To continue stem growth, do not allow seed-heads to form, as these sap energy from the plant and suppress the next growth buds from developing. Carefully break off the dead flower to prevent damage.

Orchid Show Preparation

Only a month until our Show, so begin sorting through your collection for display plants.

Put in some flower stakes to show off your spikes to best advantage, cutting them 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 length is still extending it has the chance to grow without being trapped and distorted. Try to keep your plant “facing the same direction” as this will stop flowers twisting on the stem.

Tear away sheaths from around the spike on cymbidiums. This will release any trapped water and reduce the risk of spike rot and also allow the spike to grow stronger and firmer with even colouring.

Check the plants over for scale and insect problems. A wipe with ‘all seasons oil’ will remove scale and shine up the leaves. I have heard that milk will also add a shine. If your plant has untidy or marked leaves, these could be removed or ‘sharpened’ (trimmed to resemble a leaf point).

Clean up your plant label or better still, write a new one, and give those pots or bags a wash. If the surface bark is old and mossy, try removing a layer and replacing it with new bark. It does wonders for the look of the plant.

Occasionally you will have an orchid in a bag that has slumped sideways. Do not repot it. Simply put it in a larger pot and top up with fresh bark. Does wonders! (Afterwards, remember to repot.)

In the last week, decide which is the front of your plant and place the plant label there for others to read. Put a sticky label on the back with your name. A great help when dismantling the show.

Culture Notes for August

There is plenty of Spring development as flower spikes lengthen, buds swell and new growths start to form. Look over your plants that need repotting and if they show no sign of flowering move them into a larger pot or divide. The warmer days and fresh bark will have those new roots on the move. Be aware that several warmer afternoons can quickly dry out your bark, so take note of Lee and Roy Neale’s watering rules and water early in the morning, so there is no water trapped in leaf nodes or flowering shoots to chill off at night.

This is a prime time for pests to multiply while we have a winter relax in front of the television and the fire. My perfectly clean group of Phallies is once again infested with woolly aphids. Where they came from I have no idea. Move a few leaves as you tie up a flower stalk and hidden away is a colony of scale. So stay active with your spray programme and clean up your plants before the show.

It is definitely time for me to do another Neem oil spray with an insecticide included. This programme has kept my infestations to a minimum and keeps the ant population down as well.

Popular Vote June 2015

Barry Curtis: 1st  Paph. Thunder Bay ‘Flash’ FCC/AOS x John Bourne ‘Brandy’ ACC/AOS.

Conrad Coenen: 2nd. Miltassia Dennis Kleinbach ‘Crowhurst’.

Ute Rank: 3rd= Masdevallia un-named.

Mary Parkinson: 3rd= Phalaenopsis un-named.

Display Plants June 2015

John Edwards: Miltassia Dennis Kleinbach ‘Crowhurst’ AM/AOS; Paph Pembridge Firebrand John Harris (John Noble No 17)??; Paph Silvara ‘Taupiri’ (John Noble No 21)??

Mary Parkinson: Isochilus aurantiacus; Helcis sanguinolenta: Phalaenopsis un-named.

Elizabeth Bailey: Masdevallia Gremlin; Masdevallia Firebrand; Dendrobium Mayumi.

Ute Rank: Cattleya intermedia var amethystina rosea x Laelia macrobulbosa; Masdevallia un-named (John Noble).

Brian & Natalie Simmonds: Paph. Insigne.

Conrad Coenen: Onc. Sweet Sugar; Coelogyne tomentosa; Vanda coerulea x levoix??;  Angraecum germinyanum.

Wilma Fitzgibbons: Lepanthse telipoganiflora; Lepanthse tentaculata; Tubecentron Hsinying Girl (Orange); Cattleya (Sophronitis) cernua; Stelis macrophylla; Encyclia calamaria ‘Margot’s Mini’.

Diane Hintz: Dendrochilum cootesi; Maxillaria issabarina?? x Coronet; Cattleya Koa x Medley JJ AM/NZOS; SLC California Apricot x C. Highlight x SLC. Bright Angel; Dendrobium Madam Doubtfire; SC. Lana Coryel x Soph coccinia.

Barry Curtis: Laelia anceps; Zygopetelum un-named; Paph insigne.

Popular Vote July 2015

Barry Curtis: 1st Oncidiun ornithorhynchum.

Stewart McInally: 2nd. Slc. Fire Magic.

Barry Curtis: 3rd MacLellanara Pagan Love Song ‘Ruby Charles.’

Display Plants July 2015

John Edwards: Laelia anceps; Calanthe vestita; Dockrillia teretifolia (‘BP’ x ‘FG’) x Green Gem.

Sandra Simpson: Laelia anceps; Oncidium Twinkle ‘Fragrant Fantasy’; Oncidium Tsiku Margueite; Pleurothallis truncata.

Audrey Hewson: Paph insigne.

Mary Parkinson: Coelia triptera.

Brian & Natalie Simmonds: Cycnoches warscewiczii x Mormodes Jumbo Poseidon.

Jack Targett: Paph. Dreadnought.

Ute Rank: LC Ernest Renan ‘Olga’.

Barry Curtis: Paph. Thunder Bay ‘Flash’ FCC/AOS x John Bourne ‘Brandy’ ACC/AOS; Paph Golbourne Chrystal Bar x Lambert Day Best; Paph curtisii sanderae; Odont Anna Claire; MacLellanara Pagan Love Song ‘Ruby Charles’; Onc. Twinkle ‘Fragrant Fantasy’; Onc. Gold Dust Onc. anthrocoles?? Everglades; Onc. Gold Dust; Neolehmannia porpax.