December 2015: Newsletter 375

In Vale: June Buckman 1922 – 2015

June passed away on November 14, just 2 months to the day after Sid died. The family had held a small private service for Sid and, with June’s blessing, planned a commemorative service for both of them. No one expected her to live so long and she observed to her son Warwick just recently, that she was messing up the plans. That was June in a nutshell, considerate of everyone but herself.

A large group of members attended the lovely joint service in St John’s Anglican Church in Waihi on November 23 where Warwick expanded on the lives of June and Sid, 93 and 96 years of age. They had both given so much to the community, garden groups and to our own Orchid Society over their very full lives. President Barry Curtis said it was a pleasure to represent our Club and to say a few words in honour of their service and friendship.

November Day Meeting

Rain and visits to Jean’s place often coincide and I hear that it once again threatened to spoil the day, but this year cleared away just as everyone arrived. Many members took the opportunity to smartly get roaming in the garden….just in case…and some didn’t even get back for their morning tea.

There is so much to see, from the beautiful curved stone steps leading down towards the golf course, the bush walk through lovely mature plantings on the eastern slope, the circular bromeliad and palm garden in the driveway, the vege gardens, the fruit orchard and the wonderful enclosed courtyard beside the house. And those are just starters.

November Evening Meeting

Present: 34 members & 5 visitors.

Bill Pepperell spoke on growing Catasetums (abbreviated to Ctsm). If you look at the front cover of your Orchid 2015 yearbook you will see a photo of Bill’s Orchid of the Year – Fredclarkeara After Dark ‘Toulmx’ AM/OCNZ, a black burgundy.

We were treated to a wonderful range of Catasetum photos and a commentary by Bill. We also saw photos of his orchid houses and the range of orchids he enjoys growing.


Catasetum fimbriatum. Photo: Orchi, via Wikipedia

The Catasetums are grown in a small, heated greenhouse that is too bright and hot for most orchids. These plants probably don’t go below 14°C in the winter but regularly reach 40°C in summer! He grows them in sphagnum and very wet for summer, and no water at all once they drop their leaves for winter. They are repotted just before spring into fresh moss and remain dry until the new growth is 75-100mm long. He then soaks them using rain water, with plenty of fertiliser as well.

Bill took us through Fred Clark’s presentation on Growing Catasetums during his talk, but I have made use of the web to gather some culture notes.

Catasetum Culture Notes prepared by Education Committee, American Orchid Society

(Temperatures have been converted; read about three collector’s Ctsm here.)

Light: Should be strong, especially near the end of the growth period. Early in the annual growth cycle, plants will tolerate less light – from 1,500 to 3,000 foot-candles. Plants grow best with light levels of 3,000 to 6,000 foot-candles, or quarter to three-quarters full sun. As pseudobulbs mature, harden them by giving slightly more light.

Temperature: These orchids are native to hot tropical areas and grow during rainy summer months. During this growing period, day temperatures of 27 to 40°C and night temperatures of 15 to 18°C are beneficial. After growths mature, temperatures should be reduced to 12°C at night, with day temperatures of 21 to 30°C.


Catasetum randii. Image: Matilda Smith & John Nugent Fitch, published in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, 1896 (Wikipedia)

Water: Is critical for producing large pseudobulbs and strong flowerings. Since these plants only grow for a short period, a great quantity of water must be stored by the plant. Water heavily as new leaves are forming. After the pseudobulb is mature, gradually reduce watering frequency. The leaves will yellow and start to fall. At this time watering should be stopped completely until new growth begins again. Water during this dormant period only if the plant shrivels severely; overwatering may cause the pseudobulbs to rot and die.

Fertilising: Is very important for producing strong pseudobulbs. Use a high-nitrogen formulation (30-10-10) while plants are in active growth, slowly tapering off as pseudobulbs form. Bloom booster formulation (10-30-20) should be used in the fall except for plants that normally bloom in the spring.

Potting: Is best timed to coincide with the start of new growth(s), usually in the spring. New roots will be produced quickly at that time, and plants will not experience any setback. These plants have vigorous root systems and like to have a rich and moist potting medium during their growing months. Many growers remove the plants from the growing medium during the resting period to ensure dryness during that time. Fine-grade orchid bark is common for smaller pots; medium-grade bark is used only on large plants.


Catasetum pileatum ‘Riopelle’ CCM/AOS. Photo: American Orchid Society

Sphagnum moss is used successfully for plants in many areas, as it provides tremendous water- and fertiliser- holding capacities. Some plants may be grown on slabs of tree fern or other material, which makes it easier to keep them dry during dormancy; however, it is harder to keep them moist while growing. When well grown, these orchids can be divided down to one mature bulb and then bloom on the next mature growth.

Pests: Spider mites are a common pest of these orchids when in leaf; control by keeping humidity high and/or spraying with recommended miticides.

How to be successful in orchid growing

Be selective and grow orchids that you have success with. This keeps your collection smaller and more manageable. If you have difficulty flowering some orchids, move them on.

Have fun and do not turn your hobby into a chore.

Start a learning journey where you expand your knowledge through asking successful growers in your Club, visit other growers, read books by New Zealand authors and use the web.

Popular Vote, November 2015

Elizabeth Bailey: Onc. eurycline 1st

Conrad Coenen: Cym. floribundum v. album 2nd

Helen McDonald: Den. thyrsiflorum 3rd

Brian Simmonds: Den. Pierardii.

Display Plants

(* = Note correct &/or new name. [?] = Not identified)

Barry Curtis: Oda. Petite Lace x Leysa ‘Bestawon’ AM/AOS; Odcdm. Wildcat ‘Yellow’ AM/AOS; Aliceara Sweethart Jonel ‘Everglades AM/AOS; Wilsonara Golden Remembrance; Cochleanthes discolor; Sarco. Star Struck ‘Plush’ x Dove ‘Good’; Sarco. Cherie x Star Struck; Masd. (no name); Onc. Lemon Heart; Milt. Mandoline ‘Peaceful’; Cym. Cricket ‘Libby’.

Brian & Natalie Simmonds: Cattleya (no name).

Conrad Coenen: Lyc. aromatica; Lyc. Koolena; Angcst. Paul Gripp ‘Brenda’; Angcst. (no name); C. intermedia var. suavissima.

Helen McDonald: C. Sweety; Den. Roy Tokonaga; Masd. Karen Eleanor ‘Foxy’ AM/?; Sarco. Dove; Sarco. Heidi (x2); Den. thyrsiflorum; Maxillaria juergensii; Pleurothallis grobyi *; C. Port Light ‘Taikura’; Asco. Cherry Blossom; Cym. Ruby Brook ‘Falling Fire’; Den. Kuniko.

Elizabeth Bailey: Onc. eurycline; Masd. Violetta; Masd. Chubby Cheeks; Masd. uniflora x Coconut Ice; Masd. Peppermint Rock; Masd. Rice Queen; Masd. Grace Arms.

Trevor & Pam Signal: Sarco. Sunvale Peach (= Fizzy Dove x Velvet) (x3); Sarco. Sunvale Sunset (= Fizzy Dove x Snowhart); Sarco. Melody (x2); Sarco 5189; Lc. Amazon Trick; Lc. Mandarin Melody; Zygo. crinitum x Zcx. Kiwi Shadow.

Mary Parkinson: Hsinying Rujo ‘Red Wine’ SM/TOGA x Macabre ‘Magic Wings’SM/TPS; Pleurothallis stenopetala; Sarco. Snow Mist; Sarco. Charm; Sarco. Fizzy Dove; Epidendrum Secret Valley ‘Desert’.