Why You Should Use Professional Compost When Growing Orchids

Despite their beautifully delicate form, many types of orchids are in fact a reasonably straightforward flower to cultivate especially many of the easily available phalaenopsis hybrids, as long as you follow some basic rules regarding their care. Here we will discuss one of the most crucial factors in growing healthy, robust orchids: choice and use of compost.

Phalaenopsis 'Pure Silk'
If you have grown orchids for any length of time, you may know that they tend to fall into two categories, epiphytic, which grow on trees, and lithophytic, which grow on rocks. These may sound like very specific conditions to grow in, but many of these types of orchids can in fact grow in containers with relative ease, too.

While it may be tempting to purchase cheaper non-specialised compost for your orchids, you should be aware that such compost can offer poor drainage and nutrition. Furthermore, some lower cost composts can be irregular in their consistency. By buying a professional compost that has been specially formulated for orchids, you will be giving your flowers a free-draining compost that allows two crucial elements to be absorbed by the plant’s roots: water and air: good supplies of these elements are essential if you are to get the orchids you really want.

Phalaenopsis Sin-Yuan Golden Beauty
A compost with good drainage will likely be composed partly of wood chippings, which serve to open up the compost - letting both air and water through. For the nutrition of your orchids, the ideal compost will be a blend of high grade peats, in addition to the chippings. It should ideally also be pH balanced and contain lime in order to create optimum growing conditions. A professional compost may also include fertilizing ingredients, which will help to give your plant a solid start.

Phalaenopsis 'Las Palmas'
A big part of taking care of your orchids is observing the root structures. In order to do this you should pot your orchids in transparent containers, so that when the roots fill the pot, you know it is time to re-pot them. You may also find that the plant has developed some aerial roots by this stage, which have extended outside the pot.

Phalaenopsis 'little zebra'
Use your orchid grade compost for re-potting, and do so in a container that is one or two sizes larger than the old pot. Take care not to bury the aerial roots in the compost, as this may cause rotting to occur.
In conclusion, the selection of an orchid-friendly compost can be the difference between mediocre orchids, and strong, beautiful orchids that enliven whichever environment they are placed in.

Author Bio: YouGarden is an online gardening center run by three horticulturalist who have over 50 years combined experience. They have one simple ethos “Gardening for Everyone” and sell everything from profressional compost to flowers and fruit trees

Bollopetalum Midnight Blue 'Cardinal Roost'


Bollopetalum Orchids are created by crossing a Bollea with a Zygopetalum. This stunning example is Bollopetalum Midnight Blue 'Cardinal Roost'which is a cross between Bollea violacea x Zygopetelum B. G. White.

Orchids and Interior Design

There is no doubt that orchids are among the most intriguing and beautiful flowers in the world.  They can add an elegant touch to any room, and have become very popular with interior designers who wish to add a stylish finish to a design.  They are available in a variety of colours and sizes, so finding one to suit a particular room or design theme should be easy.  The homeowner can choose cut flowers or an orchid plant.  The advantage with a plant is that it will last for a long time if properly cared for, whereas cut flowers do have a limited life.



Why orchids?

The flowers on an orchid plant last for different lengths of time depending on the particular species, but generally orchids have a long blooming period.  This can range from one to three or four months, so the overall effect can be enjoyed for a while, which makes them different to many other indoor plants.  In addition, despite the fact they look very delicate, they are actually quite resilient.  Properly cared for, an orchid plant will last for a number of years.  They do not require constant watering so are actually much easier to care for than most people might think. 



Choosing the right orchid

When choosing an orchid for a particular room, it is important to obtain one that is in good condition.  Someone with green fingers might be able to revive an ailing plant, but as not everyone has this skill, it makes sense to find the healthiest plant possible.  Getting a good quality plant means checking it for spots on the leaves or flowers.  Brown spots or discolouring on the leaves can indicate bacterial or fungal infections.

Think carefully about the location in the room where the orchid is to be placed.  A steady temperature – not too hot and not too cold – is needed.  Any area where there may be a draught should be avoided, as orchids will not thrive here.  Attention should also be paid to lighting in the area.  Some species of orchid are able to resist strong light, but others will struggle.      



Planning the design

Think carefully about the overall effect created by the finished room.  The flower that is chosen will need to complement the decor.  For example, if the walls are to be white then putting a white flower into the room will help to convey a minimalist style.  However, if a warm touch is sought then a colourful flower should be introduced.  Orchids are also a great choice for a room or space where relaxation is a key theme.


An elegant looking plant is the perfect accompaniment to high quality furniture and soft furnishings.  The orchid can be used as the centrepiece on a table, or as a feature in a corner of the room.  Making sure it can be clearly seen is important, and the orchid motif can be repeated in features such as cushions and curtains.  Creating a feature wall is a popular choice these days, and to round off the room design it is possible to get eye-catching wallpaper that carries an orchid pattern.   

A blog break

It has been a couple of weeks since we last posted! Which is probably the longest we have gone since starting this blog! apologies for that, things have been rather hectic. However normal service will resume again shortly as they say on TV!

To catch up heres a rather stunning Orchid, ootrophion vulturiceps to keep us going for now!

For obvious reasons its known as The Vulture Headed Zootrophion, it comes from Costa Rica and grows at altitudes of between 1400 and 1700 meters in wet cloud forests. It is a small sized, epiphyte which flowers in the autumn.

How to grow Dendrobium orchids

Orchids in the Dendrobium familiy (pronounced den-dro-bee-urn) come from South East Asia, covering a huge area that stretches from as far as Northern India to the small islands off the East coast of New Guinea as well as Australia to Polynesia. It is important to take a note of the latitude where they grow as the Equator runs through the middle of the growing territory and it should be remembered that it is always hot at sea level with hardly any seasonal variation.
However if one selects plants from north of the Tropic of Cancer and south of the Tropic of Capricorn these are more adaptable to growing in the UK as they encounter to a much wider range of climate variability, with colder drier winters and warm wet summers. It is important therefore to know identify where each species actually comes from.

There are well over 1,200 identified species of Dendrobium , and yet more are being classified from the highlands of New Guinea, an exciting area to plant hunters and an area that does see some cold, expect to see more tropical plants coming from this region for British gardeners. This makes them the second largest orchid genus in the world after Bulbophyllum. The family was established by Olof Swartz in 1799 and in 1981, Briegar reclassified all terete-leaved Dendrobiums from Australia and New Guinea into a new genus, Dockrillia. The Winika orchid from New Zealand was formerly D. cunninghamii, but has now been moved into a monotypic genus Winika. In 1989, Clements upgraded the D. speciosum complex into individual species similarly, the D. bigibbum complex (which contains the well-known Cooktown Orchid of Australia, D. phalaenopsis) has recently been split up.

Whilst the form as well as the shape of the individual stems and leaves vary tremendously beteen species, the pattern of flowers is reasonably constant albeit witha wide range of sizes ranging in size from very small to huge. Generally the bases of the sepals are fused to the base of the column and the lip base forming a mentum or 'chin' which typically houses the nectar of the flowers.

Light requirements
Dendrobiums like good level of light at all times but they should not be kept away from full sun or they can scorch. Keep them in the brightest position during the winter months in indirect sunlight to help ripen the current years stems/canes.

Watering requirements
This is one of the key elements that new growers of Dendrobiums often fail to adhere to, avoid all watering from mid November until February. If the atmosphere in your home is very dry or you keep them in a dry greenhouse then you can mist your plants once a months to avoid over drying them or give them a good single soak every 8 weeks. The Nobile type Dendrobiums must have a rest from water between these dates if you want to see flowers.

There is a fine balance between drying them out completely (killing them) and keeping them alive. This is due to their natural habitat in South East Asia where the winters are cool and the air fairly dry. This winter treatment is stopped in February as growth re starts and water should be applied sparingly until good roots are visibly growing from the new shoots, by June watering can given twice weekly and continued until November. This watering regime is due to the plants native environment where they would be subject to monsoon type downpours during the early to late summer with corresponding higher temperatures and humidity and cool dry winter conditions.

Dendrobium Spring Dream 'Apollon'

Potting.
Dendrobiums do better when kept in small pots with their roots confined. Bark, perlag and charcoal make up an open mix which will drain easily. Repot when either the compost becomes acid and soggy or when the pot is too full of roots. This often means every year or so. Plants from the mountains of New Guinea like a little moss mixed with the bark or they can be grown on slabs of bark or treefern on a mossy bed. Such slabs need daily misting for most of the year. Repotting and dividing should be undertaken in the spring either immediately after flowering or just as new growth starts.

How to repot
Gently pull the orchid from the pot and shake loose the remaining potting mix. If orchid is difficult to remove, then consider soaking the plant, in water. If that doesn’t work, cut off the pot. A few pot pieces stuck to roots won’t impede growth in the new pot. Better to leave these on that cut roots to remove them.

Trim any dead or rotting roots with sterilized blade. Never use blade on another plant without re-sterilizing.

Add potting mix to within a cm or so of pot rim. Work roots into mix, but do not bury the base of the pseudobulb. Use a rhizome clip if you need it to secure the plant. Stabilize plant with a vertical stake and ties.

Water sparingly until new roots start.


Propagating
The Dendrobium reproduces by growing keikis or “babies” from the nodes on the stem. After flowers have bloomed, cut stem at the base and lay it on moistened river sand, Dendrobium potting mix or fir bark. Allow keikis to grow until the end of the growing season (August). These keikis should grow roots. Remove at this point and pot them in small pots.
 

Miltonia 'Oscar Kirsch'

Miltonia 'Oscar Kirsch'
Miltonia 'Oscar Kirsch'
A lovely Miltonia hybrid named after the famed grower Oscar Kirsch from Hawaii.

Orchids At RHS Wisley

We are fortunate to not live too far from RHS Wisley and a couple of weeks ago had a lovely trip to visit the gardens and glass houses. (See Alternative Eden for an over view).

In the main glass house there are numerous orchids in the tropical section as well as an area dedicated purely to orchids. These are some of the highlights from our day.
Prosthechea cochleata
Miltoniopsis 'red tide'
Zygoneria 'Adelaide Meadows' x Zygoneria 'Greenways'
x Burrageara Living Fire
Phal. bellina
Un-named
Encyclia prismatocarpa var lonoglossa

Pap. supersuk

Phal 'Burning Sands - Ablaze'
The timing of this post is perfect for Tootsies fertilizer Friday - for more wonderful flowers see Tootsies Blog, not only that but its almost time for Garden Bloggers Bloom day, see here for more.

:)

Restrepia aristulifera


 Restrepia aristulifera is a species of orchid endemic to Colombia and Venezuela. It grows in cloud forests at elevations of 1800 to 2800 meters as an epiphyte.
 

Psychopsis Orchids

Psychopsis, which is usually abbreviated as Psychp in the horticultural trade, is a genus of just four species of orchids. They are native to the West Indies as well as from Costa Rica to Peru. They are usually epiphytic where they grow on the trunks and branches of trees. The genus used to be contained within the huge Oncidium genus (and there are many similarities. In addition the monotypic Psychopsiella is also closely related to and sometimes merged with Psychopsis.
 

 The genus is commonly known as "butterfly orchids", but is not unique in being described so with several other genus also being known as butterfly orchids. The reasons for this are obvious, the flower on Psychopsis resembles a butterfly with a brightly coloured body (the lip, a modified petal), with very long antennae like petals, and outspread wing-like dappled yellow and brown sepals. The butterfly orchid is rumored to have started the European "Orchidmania" of the 19th century.



In the narrow sense, Psychopsis consists of just 4 species:

  • Psychopsis krameriana 
  • Psychopsis papilio 
  • Psychopsis sanderae 
  • Psychopsis versteegiana 

Psychopsis papilio var alba
There are however numerous crosses and hybrids of these species with other Orchids to create some beautiful flowers for example we recently featured Psychopsis mariposa 'Green Valley'

Wild Orchid Mimics Wasp



The BBC, and in particular David Attenborough have a long history in producing fantastic wildlife clips. This clip shows how an Orchid has evolved to mimic a wasp, to ensure its seed are pollinated. Great clip.

Brassolaeliocattleya Pralin De Valec

Brassolaeliocattleya Pralin De Valec


Brassolaeliocattleya Pralin De Valec
Brassolaeliocattleya Pralin De Valec is a cross of Cattleya intermedia and Brassolaeliocattleya Chinese Jade.

Doritaenopsis 'Antique Pearl'

Doritaenopsis 'Antique Pearl'


Doritaenopsis 'Antique Pearl'


Stunning orchid on display at the RHS Hampton Court flower show earlier this year.

Psychopsis Mariposa 'Green Valley'



Psychopsis are known as the butterfly orchid and its fairly easy to see why! Mariposa means butterfly in Spanish. Psychopsis Mariposa is a hybrid between Psychopsis papilio and Psychopsis Kalihi, Psychopsis only has one flower open at a time per spike. Rarely, two flowers at a time can be open on one spike, but it is more common to have one flower open, with the next bud waiting for the flower to drop off, before it will open.



Psychopsis Mariposa should be kept in shade in a well drained orchid compost mix or alternatively mounted. If potted, it is best to use a potting media such as chopped sphagnum, tree fern fibers, fir bark, charcoal or perlite. Water the plant every two to three days. Psychopsis Mariposa prefers warmer temperatures, it can tolerate medium to cool temperatures with high humidity during the summer months. Water regularly in spring to autumn but you must reduce watering over the winter period and let the pot dry out completely before watering again to avoid rot.

The Benefits of Greenhouse Growing



A greenhouse is a great addition to any garden. Owning a greenhouse provides you with a wide range of benefits. You can experiment with a selection of plants and fully enjoy your gardening hobby. There are many types of greenhouses available, from large, impressive glasshouses to smaller lean to designs.   

Here are the main benefits of greenhouse growing: 
  • Extended growing season. Owning a greenhouse enables you to extend the growing season. A greenhouse provides plenty of protection for your plants, so you do not have to worry about the weather conditions. You can grow seasonal plants throughout the year.  


  • Better temperature and humidity control. Whilst you cannot change the weather conditions outdoors, you can add extra lighting, heating and ventilation to a greenhouse to make the conditions within it suitable for your plants. In summer, you can add vents to prevent your greenhouse from becoming overheated and in winter, you can add heaters to protect your plants from frost.  This control is essential when growing orchids, especially the tropical and rainforest species.

  • Plenty of protection for your plants. A greenhouse offers a sheltered area for your plants, protecting them from weather conditions such as heavy rain, winds and snow. A greenhouse is also idea for busy gardens, as the structure will help to prevent plants from being damaged by children or pets.  

  • Plenty of variety. Owning a greenhouse enables you to grow whatever type of plant you desire. As you have the ability to control temperatures and humidity levels within your greenhouse, you can consider growing plants that are not normally found in your area. You can provide suitable growing conditions for unique and beautiful exotic plants.  

  • Healthy, free food. One of the main benefits of owning a greenhouse is that you can grow your own fruit and vegetables organically. Organic fruit and vegetables are much healthier and tastier than supermarket varieties and can be used in a selection of home-cooked dishes. You can be provided with free food all year round and cut down on how much you spend at the supermarket. Greenhouses are also ideal for growing herbs and salad crops, so you can add more flavour to your dishes and create fresh summer salads.  

  • More protection from pests. A greenhouse helps to keep out garden pests, as they are unable to access your plants when windows and doors are kept closed. However, there is still a risk of pests and plant diseases in warmer temperatures, so you will need to make sure your greenhouse is well-ventilated and keep an eye out for any signs of damage to your plants.  

  • Enhances your gardening hobby. Adding a greenhouse to your garden really helps to you to fully enjoy your hobby. A greenhouse not only provides many benefits for your plants but also for you, as you can escape there whenever you wish. Some types of greenhouse, such as the glasshouse, can even include a living area where you can sit and relax and enjoy views of your garden.  

  • Attractive garden feature. A greenhouse not only provides a place for you to grow a selection of plants but also an attractive structure for your garden. Greenhouses are available in a wide range of designs, so you can easily select something that will compliment your garden perfectly.  


Fertilizer Friday





Phragmipedium Garren Weaver











For more flowers check out the links on this weeks post on Tootsie Time






Dendrobium Spring Dream 'Apollon'

Dendrobium Spring Dream 'Apollon'

Dendrobium Spring Dream 'Apollon'

Dendrobium Spring Dream 'Apollon'
Dendrobium Spring Dream 'Apollon' was discovered in January 1992 as an outstanding member of a large population of seedlings obtained by crossing Dendrobium Seigyoku `Queen` and  Dendrobium Cassiope `Seto` . Seigyoku is itself a cross between Dendrobium Oberon and Dendrobium Spring Wind. Whilst Cassiope is a cross between Dendrobium moniliforme and Dendrobium nobile.

These crosses have been registered with The Royal Horticultural Society in England. The mother plant, Seigyoku,  has large size white flowers, and blooms well. The father plant, Cassiope `Seto`, has white flowers with a soft blurry lavender color at the ouside edges. The center of the flowers is white.

These two varieties were cross-bred in 1989, and over 200 seedlings were cultivated. The first blooms from the seedlings were formed in  January 1992. Among the blooming seedlings were some particularly beautiful whiteflowers with greenish yellow eyes. The plant of the new variety was immediately recognizable as superior in its flowering and general growth habit to all other seedlings obtained from this cross. Six medium-sized flowers were on each of two canes about 13 cm long. After the new variety had been observed for a period of time its other features of vigorous and early blooming were also noted. Two to three canes were established each year, and more flowers bloomed on each cane.

Since then Dendrobium Spring Dream 'Apollon' has become a popular hybrid and is fairly widely available.

Dendrobium 'Anna' Green

Dendrobium 'Anna' Green
Dendrobium 'Anna' Green has amazing lime green flowers with a deep red lip, supported by stong canes. The flowers can last for up to 10 weeks.

Phalaenopsis Brother Janet

Phalaenopsis Brother Janet 
Phalaenopsis Brother Janet is a vigorous growing Phalaenopsis, this one was on display at the 2012 RHS Hampton Court Flower show.