September 2014: Newsletter 361

August Day Meeting

We had another lovely meeting at Elizabeth’s, surrounded by her immaculate gardens and neat and tidy orchid houses. Her plants are always so impressive with buds forming and flowers on display.

I noticed milk bottles of her natural ‘brew’ sitting under the orchid benches. Whatever is in them certainly appears to be working.

Elizabeth has such a range of plants besides her orchids. Bromeliads, carnivorous plants, tillandsias and a colourful flower garden, make this a very special home to visit.

Evening Meeting, August 19

Present: 35 members.

Our speaker, Chris Whitby, began growing orchids at 14 years of age and became a Paphaholic very early on. He has tried other orchids but finds he always ends up with his main desire,  Paphiopedilums. Other orchids are actually easier to grow, as Paphs need special care and conditions because of their root structure.

Chris only has an 8m x 5m greenhouse, but manages to fit in about 10,000 plants, mostly in small pots. He prefers a longer, clear pot with a sleeve, which allows him to check on root growth.

As a growing medium, Chris now uses No 2 bark, perlite, Lyca (small clay balls) or scoria/ pumice and a dash of shell grit. Ratios are: 4 bark, 1 perlite, 1 lyca clay balls and shell grit.

This mix allows the water to drain straight through. In winter with his heated greenhouse he needs to water every second day, but during normal summer only once a week. It must be noted that Chris keeps humidity high with a wet-wall, so water according to your own conditions.

Paphs cannot be mericloned with the result being higher prices for imported flasks, $500-$600. When deflasking Chris places 5 plants per community pot, making it easy to keep count of failures.

He carries out a regular monthly spray programme using Aliette as a fungicide and Rogor for an insecticide to deal with scale and mealy bugs, drenching the pot to wipe out insects in the bark.

We have previously heard about the importance of Calcium nitrate, but Chris uses it at every fertilising session. His general fertiliser is a hydroponic 18:18:18 but with this is a mix of Calcium nitrate and Magnesium nitrate. Just to simplify: Calcium cannot be mixed with Epsom salts (Magnesium sulphate) but it can be mixed with Magnesium nitrate. He waters first, then an hour or so later fertilises using a mixer that sucks the fertiliser through the hose. Chris warns against using tank water that is untreated with chlorine, as fungus grow in the rotting leaves in the bottom of the tank and then causes root rotting.

Chris grows his plants under very low light levels – 80% shade. He has 50% shade cloth on his greenhouse and a layer of frost cloth inside. This means no shadow as you pass your hand above the plant. The air in the greenhouse is kept moving using a fan, but he doesn’t like top vents as they alter the conditions in the house and lower humidity.

Finally, Chris likes to repot every year, but always keeping the plants in as small a pot as possible. Deflasked plants are moved on after 6 months and he notes that they seldom grow roots in the first pot, with the major growth coming with the next pot. With the regular feeding and repotting he manages to flower his plants in their third year.

Popular Vote,  August

Diane Hintz: Epi. Mini type, J.P.7, Magenta L & R 1st.

Barry Curtis: Onc.Gold Dust 2nd =
Mclna. Pagan Lovesong ‘Ruby Charles’ 3rd.

Sandra Simpson: Onc. Tsiku Marguerite 2nd= .

John Edwards: Burrageara Nelly Isler 2nd=.

Display Plants

(* = Note correct &/or new name. [?] = Not identified – check label)

Barry Curtis: Onc. Anthrocoles [?] – (? =Anthroclus) ‘Everglades’; Paph. Rosy Dawn;  Paph. unnamed; Wilsonara Hambuhren Stern; Odcdm. Dorothy Wisnom x Oda. City of Birmingham.

Brian & Natalie Simmonds: Den. Jonathan’s Glory ‘Dark Delight’; Pot. Lemon Tree ‘Yellow Magic’; Den. Burgundy Bride ‘Melbourne’ x delicatum ‘Tracy’.

John Edwards: Maxillaria variabilis.

Diane Hintz: Sc. Lana Coryell ‘Ellen’ x Sc. Angel Flare ‘Dendi’; Paph. Mem. Anne Booth ‘Kauka’; Paph. Leeanum; Masd. Paul Martinod.

Barbara Nalder: Den. Purple Star x Yondi ‘China Doll’; Den. King-Wong ’Big Foot’ AM/NZOS Sc. Fire Magic; Den. No label.

Erica Cowdell: Paph. Alwine x lawrenceanum; Paph. Peter Black x Waipapa Gold; Paph. Copperware ‘Lacquer’ x Baroque ‘Cloister.

Jan Missen: Epicatt. Nebo.