March 2017: Newsletter 388

February Day Meeting

It was a lovely morning when we gathered in Sandra’s hidden garden, down a right-of-way, surrounded by mature trees. It felt a little like a scene from Alice in Wonderland, dwarfed by these magnificent trees in this beautiful garden setting that Sandra has been developing for many years. We had 22 very happy club members gather for our first event for 2017, with lots of catch-up chatting and an al fresco morning tea in a delightful walled corner. There were so many areas of the garden and orchid house to inspect on our first visit.

February Auction (Evening Meeting)

Present: 30 members & auction visitors.

It was wonderful to see the stage again well covered with a marvellous array of orchids, bromeliads, house plants, fruit, pots, planters and baskets. I did a very rough count and came up with more than 200 items. We had some very well-grown orchids to sell and it was pleasing to see the bidding rise quickly for these plants but compared to prices you would have to pay at orchid shows, they were bargains. What a wonderful opportunity for Club members to build up their collections at minimum cost. Please let us know when you bring one of these orchids along to Club night with a flower.

It was great to have Conrad back again as auctioneer. 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, Sandra and Audrey, always so knowledgeable about orchids’ names, colours and growing conditions, and the recording gang of Natalie, Brian and Winsome.

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 $1152 from your generosity.

From the money raised we make a grant to Mary to assist with any costs involved in looking after the orchid areas at Te Puna Quarry Park.

Cultural Notes for March & April

March weather conditions are beginning to fluctuate with cold snaps coming out of the blue, only to be followed by a week of sun and hot temperatures. So watch your watering and your ventilation. If your orchid house reaches 30+ degrees during the day and then drops to 14 or 15°, perhaps you should be closing down your vents earlier in the afternoon to retain some heat.

Try to water as early in the day as possible to allow your plants time to dry off before a chilly night. I have lost two sets of Cattleya buds, by giving a late misting on a hot afternoon, only to have a cool night follow. The blackened buds were soon visible in the leaf sheaths. We are caught with a difficult decision, because many of our orchids need the evening chilling at this time of the year to develop their flower spikes. They just don’t want to be wet while doing it.

Phalaenopsis will flower much better if removed from your warm lounge area and placed in a sheltered cool area for a few weeks. My Phallies are enjoying a holiday in the glasshouse, responding to more humid conditions with new leaves and new roots. I hope there are some new flower spikes on the way as well.

When fertilising your Cymbidiums you should cut down on the nitrogen or you will have only green healthy growths and few flowers. Begin using some of the dry fertiliser mixes which comprise blood & bone, super and potash, or liquid feed with Phostrogen. Remember to water the plant fully before feeding.

Dry mix fertiliser: Into a 2-litre ice-cream container put 1 cup Superphosphate, 1 cup Dolomite Lime, 1 cup blood & bone, ½ cup dried blood, ½ cup Epsom Salts and ½ cup ordinary lime. Mix well. Place on the bark (not in the leaves and sheaths) at the rate of 10ml (dessertspoon) to a 25cm pot.

Late-flowering plants can still be repotted, but take care with handling so any immature spikes at the base of the newest bulbs are not damaged.

Try to look over each plant individually, checking for scale, sooty mould, mealy bugs and aphids. These often flourish on orchids that sit against the back wall or in the corners of your shelf system. I have an infestation of the small white scale with a black centre. It appears so quickly, I’m sure ants are involved with shifting it around. Everything will be sprayed with Neem Oil and Pyrethrem and any heavily infested plant will be soaked in a bucket of the spray mix.

Do keep a watch out for any plants showing signs of ‘virus’ – white streaks, mottled patterns in the leaves or misshapen flowers. Isolate the plant immediately and, sadly, destroy or bury it. There is no cure, only further spread of the virus through your collection from the tools you have used on that plant.

Display Plants at Auction Night
(Not checked by Brian Enticott)

Barry Curtis: Odm uro-skinneri ‘Pet Bourneville’ x Wils Bonne Nuit; BLC Dal’s Joy x BC Larna Coryell; Promenacea; Encyclia Cochleata var gigantean Lowii ‘monique x Celebes Is; Paph Memoria Paul Sheldon; Wilsonara Golden Remembrance.

Elizabeth Bailey: Cattleya (ex Roy Harris).

Wilma Fitzgibbons: Podonsis dactyloceros.

Brian & Natalie Simmonds: Cattleya loddigesii var coerulea.

John Edwards: Stenoglottis Durban.