June 2015: Newsletter 369

May Day Meeting

On a fine morning on May 6, 24 members met at the home of Doris. It was a great crowd to have together for a day meeting and there was plenty of talk and mingling over our morning teas.

Doris’ home fits fairly tightly on the section and every nook and cranny, garden and fence line was beautifully planted out. Bromeliads were everywhere, their vibrant reds, pinks, bright greens and oranges adding colour and texture. Yes there were orchids there as well, a grow-house packed with plants and a busy vegetable garden.

May Evening Meeting

Present: 30 members & 2 visitors (who both joined up!).

Speaker Erica Cowdell enthused us with her passion for Paphs. She began by explaining how the breeding of present-day paphs has progressed from the original green and brown P. insignes to a full range of colours and sizes. Erica had a wonderful range of her Paphiopedulums to display the changes and colours that have developed.

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Paphiopedilums grown by Erica Cowdell. Photo: Sandra Simpson

She went on to explain her re-potting techniques, showing how she not only breaks the plant up, but how she reduces the amount of root mass by trimming out the old and tired-looking roots. To assist the plant to rejuvenate and produce more leaf fans and root growths, Erica uses a technique where she cuts into the rhizome with a blunt craft knife, about ¼ depth through. All cuts in the roots and the stem are dusted with Flowers of Sulphur to prevent infection. Knives should also be flamed between plants to prevent the transfer of virus. Clean No 3 bark is used for re-potting and ideally the newly re-potted plants will be misted for only a few weeks while cuts and wounds heal. Remember to place the plant about 25mm below the edge of the pot (to assist in watering) and have the base of the fan just covered with bark.

Her plants are fed at quarter strength of the bag fertiliser rates, as the hair-like roots system can be easily burned and she uses Calcium nitrate as a boost from January to March (1tsp/10l). Agrisea Seaweed fertiliser is used from spring to autumn, but not in winter when microbial activity is reduced in the cold temps. She continues to use standard chemical fertilisers at this time.

The watering of Paphs is the most important cultural requirement, but one of the most difficult to master. Ideally the mix should be just moist at all times with sufficient porosity to allow air into it. During the warmer months you can successfully overhead water, but as conditions cool, especially at night, water early in the morning to allow time for the leaves and especially the leaf axis to dry. Rots can easily develop and may kill any developing flower bud or the whole growth.

Erica is very eager for growers to have a go at breeding, and by using large diagrams showed us how to take the pollen cap and attach it to the stigma underneath the column. To assist this process she usually removes the lip and uses a touch of honey to stick the pollen in place. Be warned that ants like honey and you will need to tie some wool around the stem to deter them. It will take several weeks for the seed pod to swell and 9-10 months to ripen. There is no guarantee that seeds will have formed, but if they have…..contact Erica, and find out what to do next. The process of germinating seeds is complicated but not unachievable.

Growing Masdevallias

These interesting plants have striking flowers and are easy to grow. There are hundreds of different species. They are found from sea level in Central and South America to the high alpine meadows at 10,000ft or more in the Colombian and Peruvian Andes. Most locally grown Masdevallias are cool growing and larger and more brightly coloured hybrids are constantly being developed.

Cultural Conditions: The majority of those grown in NZ will take cool temperature. Keep them away from frost on their leaves. Most will take light frosts if protected inside a shade house. They are best grown in plastic containers in sphagnum moss-based potting mixture and should not be allowed to dry out. Their containers can be sat in shallow trays of water to prevent drying out in summer, or should be watered regularly by hand. Remove from trays during winter. Light levels should be about 50% in summer. They can take some morning sun or you can sit their pots under leafy trees to break the light.

Fertilising: Dilute liquid fertiliser, about EC 6-8 should be applied at monthly intervals. Hydroponic mixtures provide a good balanced feed.

Flowering: Is usually during spring and summer, though they will send up flowers at any time. When in flower they can be brought inside, sat in a shallow tray of water, out of the sun, and admired for many weeks. Flowers and plants however do not like a warm, dry atmosphere.

Dividing & Repotting: Repot every 2 years in a fresh shredded sphagnum moss-based mix, once flowering is over. The plants have no tubers or bulbs so division can be done at most times when there are no flowers. Divide to no less than 6 leaves or ramicauls per division.

Summary: Masdevallias do best in a mild, airy situation in 50% shade or more, and should never become bone dry. If this happens, soak the pot in a bucket of water to re-wet the moss. Temperature range should ideally be between 5°C and 28°C. Protect from direct sun or frost on their leaves.

Thanks to Ron Maunder, Paradise Orchids.

Popular Vote April

Conrad Coenen: Zygopetalum (unnamed) 1st.

Elizabeth Bailey: Miltonia May Moir x Goodale Moir 2nd  (= Milt. Moirmoir *).

Diane Hintz: Lc. Red Velvet x Slc. Fire Fantasy 3rd=.
C. Empress Belle x C. intermedia.

Sandra Simpson: Slc. Coastal Gold ‘Geyser Gold’ 3rd= .

Display Plants

(* = note correct &/or new name [ ] = not identified)

Conrad Coenen: C. Cherry Sundae; Miltonia Bluntii; Laelia perrinii; Lc. Mari; C. Mrs Jim Whitely.

Brian & Natalie Simmonds: Sl. Ironclad (Sl. Psyche ‘China’ x S. cernua); Lc. Mona Pink ‘Hiromi’.

Pam & Trevor Signal: (L. longipes x C. harrisoniae) x C. bicolor; L. longipes x C. harrisoniae; C. Mrs. Jim Whitely.

John Edwards: Miltassia Royal Robe ‘Tui’; Den. Monophyllum.

Sandra Simpson: Lc. unnamed; Slc.(now Cattleya) Purple Jewel ‘The Sycamore’.

Diane Hintz: Den. Milo x 2; Den. Hilda Poxon x Sunglow ‘Ira’ (= Den. ‘Graeme Banks’) * Den. Yondi Surprise; Ascda. Sumon Gold x Kultana Gems * ; Sc. Lana Coryell x Soph. coccinea; C. Mini Beau; Sc.Beaufort x S. Arizona (= Sc Jeannie Woolf) * ; Slc. Quantum Leap ‘Volcano’; Den. Highland Rose.