Orchids, an illustrated talk

February 2011 at Hadleigh Gardening Association

Last week at the Hadleigh Gardening Association meeting in the Methodist Church Hall, Chapel Lane in Hadleigh, Brian Kersey talked about Orchids.    { 17th February 2011 }

Sparring with the sound and slide systems, Brian enthused over the twenty five thousand species, split between epiphytes and ground growing; divided further into hardy or progressively less hardy, first needing temperatures over 40 degrees F then over 50 degrees F then some Singapore specials wanting 90% plus humidity and over 80 degrees F.  

What to feed them on, he told us in detail,  but we don't advertise.

For epiphytes, grow them in translucent pots so the roots don’t need to escape from the pot to find the light.   The steady parade of facts, the comfortable chairs and the droning heaters might have induced a modest state of torpor.  But then the pictures started.   There were 100 slides of growing and glowing magnificence.

Photo:Anacamptis Pyramidalis

Anacamptis Pyramidalis

Photo by Ramin Nakisa; Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0

The wondrously pink pyramid orchid (Anacamptis) flourishes at the junction of two motorways south of the Thames;  where they flower on a green island amongst the concrete, undisturbed by feet and collectors.  

The key is in careful watering control.  Use rain water or water that is cooled after boiling and only water the orchids when their leaves go just a little limp.

They grow on loose material, not compacted soil,  it is only an anchor and helps hold the beneficial fungi which all orchid roots need.

The easiest to look after is Phalaenopsis.   

Brian’s hot tip is to look out in the big shops when they get a “job lot” of these in, sometimes there is a unique new variety which the growers have no time to spot.  

Photo:Phalaenopsis Mambo ( a hybrid)

Phalaenopsis Mambo ( a hybrid)

picture copyright: http://www.larsen-twins.dk

Try keeping two or three on a humidity tray of terracotta balls, they will help each other retain a humid climate. Do you want new orchids?  Well, you can cross them.  Cross two species, cross three, cross four;  no, I don't see how that's possible either!

For a new one, you collect vast quantities of the minute seeds from an orchid seed-pod, start them on agar jelly, then carefully grow them on in successively larger pots and - after ten years - when it flowers for the first time, if you don't like it, you throw it away!

But if you are lucky, you might get a new hybrid.

Photo:Parish's Dendrobium

Parish's Dendrobium

Picture copyright: http://www.larsen-twins.dk

Have you got an exhausted orchid, a wizened old dormant bulb?  Try Brian’s tip of putting it in moss in a plastic bag.  Keep it warm and wait.  Sometimes new growth results.  

Any errors in this very brief summary are the responsibility of the author and not the lecturer or the Hadleigh Gardening Association.  

There was a "Tropical Extravaganza" display at Kew Gardens, until 6th March 2011. See: www.kew.org.

Link:    http://hadleighgardening.co.uk

This page was added by Nick Turner on 26/02/2011.
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