March 2015: Newsletter 366

February Day Meeting

A lovely large crowd of 18 gathered at Jill’s neat and tidy property in Welcome Bay. The gardens were looking a picture and everyone had a great time catching up with friends after the long summer break, during our normal cuppa and delicious spread of food.

Jill has two shade houses, one for her bromeliads and tillandsias, while the other has her orchids. These plants were looking so healthy and clean, growing so happily in their shaded house. Outside, along a back wall, we found a row of very vigorous looking cymbidiums growing so well in their deep pots. This certainly does seem to be the secret to helping your cymbidiums to thrive.

February Evening Meeting & Auction

Present: 31 members & 2 visitors.

Following the success of last year’s early Auction we were interested to see how well supported it would be this year. We should never have doubted your enthusiastic response, with the stage area once again covered from end to end in orchids, bromeliads, plants, fruit, planters, pots, palms, watering cans and books. There must have been well over 250 individual items to auction off.

We had to have Conrad back again to act as Auctioneer, and as in the past, he kept us amused, knew the names of all the plants and coerced or tricked us into buying far more items than we planned. Thanks also to Diane and Jean, always so knowledgeable about orchid’s names, colours, and growing conditions, and the recording gang of Natalie, Brian and Lynley. Thanks also to all those Club members who dug deep and purchased so many items. Without your fantastic support, the evening would not have been possible.

I hope you have found space for all the plants you took home. The Club was very pleased to receive $1107 from your generosity, a significant increase of $240 from last year.

Why Not Use The Internet or the Library?

I know many Club members are now exploring the internet to read up about their plants, solve spelling and name problems and hunt out growing tips for new acquisitions.

There is such a treasure trove of knowledge and photos that the time can fly past as you delve into each of the listings. I feel this ‘delving’ is the secret to obtaining a rounded range of knowledge, that isn’t focused on one grower or one country.

While hunting up the correct spelling for Dendrobium loddigessi I came upon this interesting growing tip from Florida, that by sheer chance I had been using with excellent results.

Den loddigesii is my best-selling small orchid. I sold so many this year that I thought I would write a few culture tips on this beautiful small flowering plant.

I find that growing on compressed fir bark was the best way to grow this plant. This holds water very well, especially if the plant is hung horizontally instead of vertically. Why? Because the water stays in the slab much better than any other way. Hold a slab vertically and soak it in a bucket. When you pull it out, watch the water run off. Now, re-soak it, pull it out, but hold it horizontally and most of the water will stay inside.

I hang my plant on a 4-wire hanger and cover the roots with sphagnum moss to keep them from drying out. I water every day, but remember, I live in Florida where things dry out in a matter of minutes.

I have successfully grown this plant in pots of bark with a layer of sphagnum on top. In its native habitat it has a very dry winter, so only lightly mist it during this rest period and grow this orchid in very high light to have many more flowers.

Some great advice there, but what about using the Club’s library? There is so much information in that cupboard, but unlike using Google, this is a ‘lucky dip’ in many cases, where an evening’s rambling can turn up some real gems. Those old Orchid Bulletins from the American Orchid Society, or our own old Orchids in New Zealand store so much knowledge.

Orchids in NZ Jan/ Feb 1983: Cymbidium culture notes

At this time of the year nitrogen is cut down otherwise you will get all growths and few spikes. A top dressing of 2 parts blood, 6 parts super and 2 parts potash, spread round the top of the plant at the rate of a tablespoon to a 9 litre bucket. Be careful not to get it into the leaf axils, otherwise you’ll burn them. You should do this once in January and again in Febuary. With the hot weather and watering more frequently, the fertiliser soon gets washed through.

For liquid feed, I am using Phostragen each week, but always remember- ‘water today, feed tomorrow’. Never feed a dry plant.

AOS Bulletin August 1988: Question Box

Q. Sometimes the flowers on my cattleyas seem to struggle to get out of the sheath. Does opening the sheath jeopardise development of the flowers?

A. The opening of the sheath is sometimes the only way that the buds will emerge. If done carefully, it will not harm the flower. However, they will have to be staked carefully to make up for the support that would normally be provided by the sheath.