July 2017: Newsletter 392

July Evening Meeting: July 18, 7pm at the Wesley Church Hall, 13th Ave. Our speaker is Garth Boggiss, from Heilala Vanilla, a family business in Te Puna that contract grows plantations of vanilla orchids in Tonga. Heilala products are now used all over the world – not bad for something that started as an aid project.

June Day Meeting

A happy group of 15 members gathered at Doris’ Matua home on a sunny morning and nattered over a cuppa. Her gardens are packed with an amazing array of plants. The colour is wonderful, with the glowing reds of the bromeliads, the soft pinks of the roses, the blushed yellow Vireyas and a carpet of purple cyclamen between the house and driveway.

Doris’ orchids are tucked away in a neat little orchid house with a concrete block, back wall. This obviously captures the heat and her plants are looking great.

We roamed around the property finding little treasures tucked into corners, happy climbers, broad beans, garden ornaments and warm places to sit, on a winter’s day.

June Evening Meeting

Members Present: 32.

Apologies: Jocelyn & Bob Mankelow, Alec & Lynley Roy, Wendy Bryson, Wilma Fitzgibbons, Trevor and Pam Signal, Keith Walls.

Visitor (and now a new member): Dave Lobb.

Orchid Council of NZ Yearbooks have arrived and are being distributed as Subs are paid. They will also be available for collection at the July meeting. Subscriptions due: Single: $25 Couples: $35. Thanks to all who have paid. Paying online is possible, the account number is (ANZ): 01-0422-0039423-00.

OCNZ raffle books have arrived. Please get ready to help out with selling them. Remember that half the funds raised are returned to our club so it’s a good deal.

Our Orchid Show – September 21-24 – is only 2 months away, a bit of a wake-up call. We will have a theme based around Alice in Orchidland, so get thinking about props you can offer. A call for volunteers will be made at the next meeting.

Weekend Workshop: Date to be set shortly, will be held at Conrad’s.

Library: New orchid journals available from the American Orchid Society – April, May and June; and Orchids Australia (June).

Conrad’s General Winter Care Notes: Water: Reduce watering to about once a week, sunny days only – if it’s cold/frosty and grey don’t water. Fertiliser: Orchids don’t need much fertiliser as they’re not growing as fast. Light: Take shading off.

Speaker for the evening was our President, Conrad, who spoke about terrestrial orchids and their repotting.

Terrestrial orchids are those that spend most of their lives with their roots in the soil, Epiphytes grow on other plants and a third group, Lithophytes live on a thin layer of detritus on rocks.

The terrestrial orchids are most commonly found in the temperate regions, with four seasons, and a wide range of temperature, rainfall and weather conditions. They range from the Arctic regions of Canada to the southern regions of South America, Stewart Island, and they thrive in Australia. Most of these orchids form underground storage bulbs which develop into clumps, usually under the shade of other plants, but many Australian terrestrials grow in the open scrublands and thrive after bushfires.

Some of the more usual terrestrial plants we can obtain and grow are:

Calanthe (Arethuseae, Bletilla, Bletia, Companulata): these grow throughout India, Asia, Australia, Fiji and Pacific Islands. Their bulb clumps are easily separated and broken off. Remove dead and rotten roots, cover any damage with sulphur or cinnamon and remove any yellowing leaves, carefully leaving new growths of leaves and developing flower spikes. Plant any clean bulbs with the roots down and the circular rings, on top.

Phaius: Have 43 species that live in more tropical regions of Africa, Asia, Australia, New Guinea and Pacific Islands, growing well in swamps, low-lying areas and drains. Conrad had no success growing his first Phaius in standard orchid bark and only produced strong cane growth and flowers when he changed to the terrestrial mix. While breaking these bulb clumps apart, be very careful not to damage the prominent top shoots which contain your next flower spike.

Stenoglottis (fimbriata, longifolia): From Southern Africa. Water heavily throughout the growing season (can sit in water) but requires a short dry winter for the leave to die off.

Pterostylis (banksii, longifolia, alobula): Found in South Australia, NZ and New Guinea. These make up the largest family of orchids in NZ, with summer and winter-flowering varieties. Many of our NZ orchids have very specific mycorrhizal dependencies.

Pleiones: From the Himalayas, South China and Taiwan. Grow in a shallow dish with terrestrial mix. These orchids have some quite specific wintering, and watering instructions and I suggest you read up on their culture, especially if you have paid $$ for a single bulb. However, I have a very large bucket crammed with bulbs, which sits outside in all weather and flowers prolifically.

Terrestrial Growing Mix: Through experience, Conrad has developed a mix that contains (roughly, working by feel):

  • 6 parts No 3 bark, (No 4 for larger bulbs)
  • 2 parts peat moss
  • 1 part 3FB (Pleione mix)
  • 2 parts Perlite (could use pumice/coarse sand)
  • 2 parts Duff or Mycorrhizal fungus mix ( use decaying avocado leaves or pine needles, with a ‘fungus smell’). Sometimes old bark will have the white fungus strands through it. This is the MAGIC that enables and promotes the growth of these bulbs.

The ingredients are mixed together well to provide a gritty, free-draining medium. Add more of various components until you think the mix feels correct.

Fertiliser: You can add in blood and bone, seaweed pellets, 9-monthsslow release, or dolomite lime, to the mix and continue to use your standard liquid orchid fertiliser through the growing season.

Position: Terrestrial orchids will grow well in your orchid house and even indoors, but they perform much better outside with 60-70% sun, wind and rain. Protect new growths with slug baits and watch out for emerging flower spikes, so the plants can be taken inside for shelter & display.

Containers: Drainage, drainage. These plants prefer wide, shallow pots or trays with additional crocs, stone, or large pumice at the bottom for extra drainage. Terracotta or clay pots allow the roots to breathe and cool the roots in summer, but you will have to water more often than plastic pots. Do remember that pots raised off the ground, to give the slightest air gap will drain much better than being plonked on the concrete or grass.

Bulb Position: When repotting, place the bulbs about 1cm below the surface of your mix. Check instructions for pleiones.

These were the bones of our evening talk, but you missed a great ‘cooking’ demonstration as Chef Conrad, who explained the ‘menu’, chopped up the ‘veges’, mixed his special ingredients and potted everything together. A masterful demonstration, with knowledge, wit and his secret recipe for successfully growing terrestrial orchids.

Notes on Watering

1. You cannot expect to fix a strict timetable for watering orchids. The frequency is governed by may factors – the type of pot and potting medium used; whether the plant is in active growth; the average temperature and humidity; the amount of light available to the plant: the degree of air movement around the plant.

2. Many orchids are watered for too frequently. It is suggested that most growers could halve their normal watering schedule by substituting a fine mist or spray for about 5 minutes for every second occasion on which they would normally water.

3. When an orchid plant starts to look dry and wrinkled, do not immediately think that it needs water. It can show these symptoms if the roots have rotted and there is no way for the water to get to the plant.

4. Plants use water as a medium to carry dissolved materials from the place where they are available to the place where they are needed. This is a two-way flow, upwards from the roots and downwards from the leaves.

5. Water enters the plant through the roots and excess water can only be disposed of by transpiration and evaporation to the atmosphere. When the air is humid and damp, and there is no air movement, transpiration cannot take place.

6. The process of respiration helps to keep the plant cool and prevent burning of the leaves.

7. The roots of an orchid are made up of a central tube surrounded by a layer of fleshy absorbent material known as velamen which absorbs the water and then filters it through to the central tube.

8. To remain healthy the velamen must be allowed to dry out after it has soaked up sufficient moisture for the needs of the plant. If the velamen remains wet for long periods, it is attacked by moulds and fungi and can be destroyed. Once that happens, that particular root is useless.

– reproduced from an OCSA Bulletin

Popular Vote June 2017

Barbara Nalder: Potinara Hot Topic*, 1st

Elizabeth Bailey: Paph. insigne, 2nd=

Barry Curtis: Maclellanara Pagan Love Song ‘Ruby Charles’, 2nd=

Conrad Coenen: Stenorrhynchos speciosum ‘C H’ x sib., 3rd.

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

Conrad Coenen: Lc. Miss Wonderful x R K Lee’s Ruby; Paphiopedilum, unknown.

Sandra Simpson: Dendrochilum cobbianum; C. labiata.

Barry Curtis: Lc. Cariad’s Mini-Quinee ‘Angel Kiss’ – BH/IOGA HCC/AOS [?]; C. Itsa Blue; Paph. Megantic hybrid; Paph.Silvara ‘Taupiri’; Maxillaria ?; Paph. Thunder Bay ‘Flash’ FCC/AOS x Johnbourn ‘Brandy’ HCC/AOS =; Paph.Gridlock; * Odcdm. Wisnom x Oda. City of Birmingham.

Jan Missen: Cym. tracyanum.

Barbara Nalder: Slc. Fire Magic ‘Solar Flare’; Den. Tarean.

Diane Hintz: Paph. Silvara ‘Tamahere’; Paph. Silvara ‘Tampiri’; Dendrochilum cootesii;  Angraceum. Vigulena ‘Sparkle’; Maxillaria Issaborina [?] x Coronet; Paph. Mem. Anne Booth ‘Kauka’.

Ute Rank: Restrepia striata; Den. Victorian Bride x speciosum; Aliceara Sweetheart Jonel ‘Everglades’.