June 2017: Newsletter 391

Please note: Evening meetings from now to September begin at 7pm. Subscriptions are now due; Single $25 & Family $35 (it is possible to pay online).

In Vale Natalie Simmonds

It was with much sadness that we learned Natalie had passed away on Tuesday, May 30 at 9am at Waipuna Hospice. We knew that Natalie was not well and was in a great deal of discomfort, but she slipped away very quickly over her last 2 days.

Our thoughts are with Brian and the families as they face the loss of Natalie, but they are also relieved that she faces no more pain and sadness. She will be terribly missed.

Natalie has played such a huge part in the life and development of the Tauranga Orchid Society, being secretary for the past 25 years and holding such a cornerstone position that she is known throughout orchid societies and clubs of New Zealand for her knowledge and understanding of the regulations and systems that govern our orchid world. We in Tauranga will miss her cheerful personality and her encyclopaedic knowledge of our own club and all its activities.

Rest in peace Natalie, we thank you for your wonderful service and friendship.

May Day Meeting

A small group gathered at Kevin’s property in Papamoa, for our May meeting. For those who had not been there before it was a real eye-opener to see his amazing collection of bromeliads, epiphytic bromeliads, tillandsias, and pitcher plants. Every possible portion of the suburban property was used to house his vast collection of plants, all so carefully arrayed or beautifully mounted and hung on steel mesh panels. I have never seen tillandsias so carefully mounted on pieces of cork, glued to white plastic name plaques.

Off-setting the careful regimentation of the tillandsias was the beautiful collection of pitcher plants, cascading from hanging baskets. These were tucked under the overhanging porch roof, providing the extra warmth and shelter from sun and rain. And everywhere else Kevin’s vast array of bromeliads covered the ground, tucked along the boundary fences, displayed beneath shade cloth covering the ground in a carpet of colour.

May Evening Meeting

Members present: 31, including new members Carolina Pagnanelli and Diana Durrant.

Apologies: Lynley Roy, Alec Roy, Natalie Simmonds, Elizabeth Bailey, Diane Hintz, Jocelyn Mankelow, Keith Walls.

Visitor: Kylie Giblin from Awakeri who has bought a property with a commercial cymbidium set-up.

Conrad opened the meeting by warning about the incursion of myrtle rust into New Zealand, found at two adjoining properties in Kerikeri this month [and now several properties in Taranaki, and one in Te Puke]. The wind-borne disease threatens many of our favourite native plants – pohutukawa, rata, manuka, kanuka, as well as feijoa, guava, eucalyptus, etc. It has wreaked havoc in Hawaii and along the east coast of Australia and there is no reason why it won’t do the same here. MPI has a hotline 0800 80 99 66 for sightings. They urge you not to try and collect samples as it is very easy to spread. Visit the MPI myrtle rust webpage.

At the same time several sprays are being withdrawn from NZ after the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) issued a Red Alert notice to raise awareness of the dangers of chlorothalonil, a broad-spectrum pesticide and a suspected carcinogen which is very toxic if inhaled. The products banned from sale in New Zealand from November 11 include but are not limited to:

Yates Bravo, Yates Greenguard, Yates Guardall, Tui Disease Eliminator, McGregor’s Black Spot and Fungus Spray, Watkins Fungus and Mildew Spray, Taratek 5F.

Domestic users looking to dispose of small quantities of these substances should ask their local authority for advice on hazardous waste disposal.

Conrad suggested we start winter evening meetings (May to September, inclusive) at 7pm to allow for an earlier finish. A show of hands carried the idea which will be put into practice from the June meeting.

Sandra has asked members to check their contact details. If you weren’t at this meeting and possibly won’t be at the next, please contact her if any of your details have changed.

Our speaker for the evening was Jim Gilchrist who returned to continue educating us in methods of growing our orchids ‘out of pots’ by mounting them on ponga trunks or on slabs. He had brought along the ponga we planted up last year and we could see the amazing amount of growth the seedlings had made. He then proceeded to wind stretchy ‘plant tie’ material, bought from Bunnings, around another ponga so club members could practice. He much prefers to use only one variety of orchid to present a more stunning effect in flowering.

After that we were able to experiment with tying plantlets of Coelogyne cristata var lemoniana on to slabs of feijoa wood to take home for our own collections.

One of Jim’s key convictions is that NO sphagnum moss should be used in the slabbing, as he has found the roots grow into the sphagnum but rely on that for moisture, instead of attaching and spreading over the surface of the slab. He grows no orchids in sphagnum because of difficulties with ‘drying out’ and the moss being extremely difficult to rehydrate, and he wonders if somewhere in the past a confusion between sphagnum and Spanish moss has been perpetuated by orchid writers.

Growing Paphs & Phallies in Fernwood Fibre

During our evening meeting in April, we were introduced to Fernwood NZ products, with Selwyn Hatrick speaking on behalf of himself and Jacob Wessink, as 2 growers who have been experimenting with growing in fibre since the Orchid Expo last year.

Selwyn had experienced great success growing paphs in fibre, many years before when it was available from a Rotorua firm, but has struggled to repeat the results growing in bark since the company went out of business. He was extremely pleased that Fernwood was producing a soft fibre and would support some growing experiments to find the best mixtures for growing paphs. His trials compare Dicksonia fibrosa, (silver fern), a soft fibre, and D. squarrosa, (ponga) a harder fibre, and mixtures of the fibre with bark. He is also experimenting with the addition of dolomite lime as an additive to prevent liverwort growing on the surface of the fibre.

Selwyn brought along several trays of quality plants that were repotted in fibre in October last year. All plants were taken from the same flask and graded for size. After 5 months there is an obvious advantage for the paphs growing in straight D. fibrosa, with larger, healthier leaves and the dolomite helps to suppress the liverwort on the surface.

The culture of Paphs relies on the correct balance of light (30% winter & 60% summer), water, humidity and feeding.

When growing in bark the plants may have nice roots in summer, but the roots can rot in the pot during winter due to over-watering or having old deteriorating bark.

“If in doubt in summer – water! If in doubt in winter – DON’T water! Try to keep your plants dry in June & July, using only a sprinkle to keep up the humidity.”

  • Temperature: min 8°C to 30°C max, but they can handle 2°C if dry
  • Fertiliser: balance 10-10-10 (house plant fert. at half strength)
  • Grow the plant in the smallest pot possible – with the greatest drainage
  • Repot annually.

Selwyn then continued the talk with observations of growing Phalaenopsis in fibre. Jacob Wessink has also been trialling his seedlings in his commercial Phally business in Pahoia, and had brought along a tray of seedlings that had produced four large leaves in one year. (We must remember that these are grown in heated houses.)

It was noted that D. squarrosa, the harder fibre, appears to be better for these orchids. It has been seen that roots that come up out of the fibre turn round and return to the fibre. For watering, wait until the fibre dries out a little – shove your finger into the mix to check moisture levels. Phallies appear to love this fibre mix and other club members have noticed a very speedy improvement in growth and the production of flower spikes.

Other observations about fibre and other orchid genera: A large range of other orchids appear to love the free-drainage, yet moist conditions. Miltonias, Odonts, Oncids, Phrags and Dendrobiumss all grow well on fibre boards, in fibre pots or in various fibre/bark mixes. When planting in fibre mix do not pack down the fibre too tightly, to allow plenty of air to penetrate.

As yet we do not know how often we will have to repot, but in nature, ponga and ferns lie around for many years without sign of deterioration, which gives us hope that fibre will last for many years without affecting the roots.

Many thanks to Selwyn, Jacob and the team from Fernwood for a great educational and inspiring evening. Thanks also to Jacob and his wife Anja for donating a tray of Phally seedlings to be distributed to all the club members there that night. We will watch with interest to see who can flower their plant first.

Popular Vote May 2017

Audrey Hewson: Epid. Snow Cocktail x Pacific Sunset 1st

Conrad Coenen: Pleurothallis tuerckheimii 2nd

John Edwards: Aliceara Sweetheart Jonel ‘Everglades’ 3rd

Barry Curtis: Odcdm. Tiger Star x (June Apperley [?] x Oda. Phoenix March.

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

Conrad Coenen: Zygo. Kiwi Susan; Zygo. Gary Baker x mavench [?]; Paph. unknown (alba).

Barry Curtis: Den. Margariconis (margaritaceum x draconis); Den. Lutin Blanc; Rhynchostele Drayton Pearl x Onc. forbesii; Cattleya (lost name).

John Edwards: Calanthe vestita; Miltassia Dennis Kleinbach ‘Crowhurst’ A/M AOS; Oda. Stirbic x Onc. forbesii; Encyclia fausta; Dracula bella.

Ute Rank: Masd. Parlatoreana (vietchiana x bareaena); Masd. Measuresiana (amabilis x tovarensis); Masd.Tuakau Goldstrike ( davisii ‘Goldenrod’ x triangularis ‘Alpha’); Masd. pachyura x burfordensis (syn. angulata); Laelia anceps var. Sierra; Oda. Stirbic x Onc. forbesii.

Mary Parkinson: Vanda Golamco’s Blue Magic; Cattleya, lavender (name not available, brought from France in 1980s by a Te Puke grower).

Jan Missen: Aliceara Sweetheart Jonel ‘Everglades’.

Barbara Nalder: Den. Tarean; Cattleya Quinquecolor.