May 012010

by Susan Taylor
Originally published in BellaOnline

Watch for changing light conditions
It is especially important to watch for changing light conditions in the spring. Many growers depend upon deciduous trees to provide shade to their plants during the majority of the warm weather growing season. Unless you are careful, your plants may get too much light as the sun moves before the leaves are all the way out. If leaves seem to be turning yellow or red in the case of Cattleyas, then apply shadecloth on a greenhouse, or sheer curtains on a window.

Get your outdoor growing areas ready
Get your outdoor growing area ready to move your plants when the weather in your area allows you do to so. Getting the growing area ready will allow you to move your plants as soon as possible and also allow you time to do things correctly. Add new space, replace broken items, and clean up the space from winter debris. Inside, clean up the space that you have been using all winter. Use Physan or Chlorox to kill mold, mildew and bacteria on surfaces.

Clean up your plants
Start your plants in their new growing season all cleaned up and ready to go for the new year. Clean the leaves using vinegar or lemon juice to remove all built up mineral and fertilizer depostis. Check for pests and spray with a good systemic insecticide and also with an algicide and fungicide. Remove old sheaths and reposition your plants in their container. Stake the plants if necessary. Mark those that need repotting and do so as soon as new roots are about 1/2 inch long.

Spring is repotting time
Spring is the time to repot many of your orchids. One important note is that, with the exception of Paphs and Phrags, plants that are blooming or in bud should not be disturbed. Repot the plants as soon as they have finished blooming. Species and hybrids of Brassavola, Cymbidium, Oncidium, Paphs and Phrags, and most seedings should be repotted at this time.

Phal Inflorescences need staking
In many parts of the country, Phals are getting ready to bloom. Be sure to stake the inflorescences when they are about 6 inches, or 15 centimeters, high to produce well displayed flowers. Some growers recommend turning pots 180 degrees at this time to force the inflorescence to grow up and over the plant rather than out and away. If you turn your plants, be sure that you only do so once or the flower arrangement can be ruined.

May 012010

by Susan Taylor
Originally published in BellaOnline

Grow Native Orchids in Your Garden

Believe it or not, you can grow native orchids in your gardens if you pick out those which grow in your area and you can provide them the right conditions. The most important point to remember is that you should never dig up wild orchids. It is virtually impossible to keep a dug up orchid alive once it is removed from its native environment and when it is done another rare and beautiful plant gets closer to extinction. This is one of the biggest dangers to our native plants. When wild populations are found they are often kept in strict secrecy because of the chance that they will be poached by those who want to sell them. Only buy from reputable dealers and ask to make sure that they are grown from seed in laboratory conditions.

There are a number of nurseries which now grow native orchids from seed to sell to those who can provide them a home. It is hoped that more and more people will become interested in trying to grow these natives so that the gene pool can be expanded and keep the plants from disappearing entirely.

Unlike hybrids which are bred for ease of growing and flowering, it is necessary to do a lot of research into which natives might work in your garden. One of the best groups in North America is Native Orchid Conservation Inc. A very active group with a lot of knowledge is the Slipper Orchid Alliance which has information about the Cypripedium orchids which are one of the most showy and widely distributed of the wild orchids. Australia has a large organization, the Australian Native Orchid Society, which provides information and conservation materials to those interested in their native orchids.

Florida, which has most species of native orchids in the United States, has its own site with information on their native orchids Florida’s Native and Naturalized Orchids and The Florida Native Native Plant Society which has a great database of plants, including orchids, which grow in the various counties in Florida. Many of the descriptions include sources for plants.

If you are both a gardener and an orchid grower, this is a great way to help out our native plants as well as introduce new and interesting plants to your garden. Many orchid societies are working with their state forestry organizations to grow and reintroduce native orchids to locations which have lost their original native populations. Growing these natives is a great way to help out and introduce friends, neighbors and families to the fact that orchids are not only tropical plants.