Phalaenopsis Brother Janet

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

Cymbidium Chelsea Red

Another beautiful Cymbidium hybrid, Cymbidium Chelsea Red.

Cymbidium Chelsea Red 
Cymbidium Chelsea Red

Orchid Watering

It is often said that more orchids fail as a result of getting the watering regime wrong than any other reason. When it comes to watering epiphytes there are two elements to consider when considering your watering regime, these are When and How. The vast majority of orchids grown by hobby growers are naturally found on trees above the ground where the light is more plentiful. Most orchids that are not terrestrial need their roots exposed to light, air and water.

When to water?
Orchids should be watered as they start to dry out. Dont allow them to completely dry out, but just before. This rule generally works for most orchids with variations depending on whether the orchid is able to store its own water. Orchids such as cattleyas and oncidiums should be allowed to dry completely between waterings while orchids such as phalaenopsis and paphiopedilums that have no water storage organs should be watered before they dry out.

There's is no strict rule on how to water, that can apply for every grower. This is because your local growing environment will not be the same as anyone else's. Key climatic differences such as temperature, humidity, air movement, the potting mix (type and age), and light levels all influence the watering requirements of individual plants.

When deciding whether to water, there are several identifying clues to determine when a potted orchid is almost dry:

  • the surface of the potting mix will appear dry when the potting mix is moss 
  • dry pots will feel lighter when lifted.
  • clay pots feel dry;
  • If you insert a pencil or wooden skewer into the potting mix when removed it will come out almost dry.

Generally it is best to water your plant in the morning to give the moisture on the leaves time to dry off during the day, this will reduce the risk of fungal damage. If any water remains in the center of the plant then use some kitchen towel to dry it off.

Many people prefer to use natural water rather than tap water to avoid any of the added chemicals or to have water with a different PH. If you use water treatment such as that provided by Lagan Water then this can help increase the range of plants you are able to cater for.

During the summer months when temperatures are higher then you will need to water more frequently, and conversely in the winter months water less frequently. Keep in mind that temperatures close to the window on a windowsill will be colder or hotter than your general house temperature. Keeping your plant away from radiators in winter will help minimise premature drying.

When orchids are watered, they should be watered copiously, infrequent and plenty is better than little and often. Place your plant into the sink and let the water run freely from the drainage holes for about a minute. Do not use salt-softened or distilled water. Allow the plant to drain completely. This is an opportunity to examine how the potting mix behaves. If you cannot pour water rapidly through the pot, the potting mix is too dense and you run the risk of starving the roots for air. If you see finely divided material that looks like coffee grounds in the water coming from the drainage holes, your potting mix is breaking down and it's time to repot into fresh mix.

Can gardens unlock the secret of our memories?

 Whether you’re green fingered or not, almost everyone loves being out in the garden. From small city yards to sprawling countryside properties, there’s something soothing, relaxing and rejuvenating about greenery, plants, flowers and fresh air.

As well as making us feel better, new research from the University of Exeter Medical School has found that being out in the garden can actually be incredibly therapeutic, especially for those suffering from dementia.

If you have a loved one who suffers from dementia and you’re looking for a way to release their memories and help them relax, here’s how being out in the garden could make a huge and positive difference.


One of the most important ways that being in a garden affects those suffering with dementia is to calm them. The beautiful plants and flowers, combined with the peaceful atmosphere, can help dementia patients to feel more relaxed. This in itself can ease the symptoms of their condition while providing a pleasant place for them to spend their leisure time.


Where a garden is in a shared space like a McCarthy & Stone retirement home, it can also provide an important opportunity for dementia patients to interact with other residents, family and friends. Being in a familiar surrounding like a garden can make these interactions easier for dementia patients, allowing them to regain a sense of normality and helping them to remember old routines.

Unlocking memories

Not only does being more relaxed and having increased levels of interaction help dementia patients unlock old memories but the sensory stimulation and familiar environment provided by a garden can help trigger memories too.

While in a garden, dementia patients are more likely to remember old habits that have brought them enjoyment in the past and recall the potential hazards of gardens and outside spaces.

In some instances, gardens for dementia patients have been completely transformed to provide a range of sensory experiences, with one care home even building a typical seaside scene in their garden to allow residents to remember their holidays by the coast.

These sorts of outdoor experiences have proved so effective in helping to unlock old memories in dementia patients that the Department of Health has recently announced a £50m investment in care homes, much of which will go to the transformation of outside spaces.

By creating familiar scenes and scenarios for dementia patients and helping them to relax, gardens play a crucial role in managing the illness and easing its symptoms, helping to build a better quality of life for those suffering from dementia.

How to take care of your garden when travelling

Everyone looks forward to a summer holiday abroad but for keen gardeners a week or longer away from home during the peak of summer can take its toll on a beautiful outdoor space. As you might expect, in order to keep your garden healthy whilst you are away, preparation is key. Read on for hints and tips on how to ensure you'll find a healthy lawn and garden on your return.

1. Enlist the help of friends and family
Whether you are relying on the help of a sibling or have a willing neighbour at hand, never underestimate the difference their help can make! For gardeners worried about their prize vegetables or beautiful blooms, having someone to water them regularly and protect them from hungry pests is worth its weight in gold. For the community minded a gardening time share might also be something to consider.

2. Protect vulnerable plants from the elements
With hot temperatures and unforeseen showers threatening to ruin your garden whilst you are away, it really pays to investigate all your options. If you are considering landscaping for example, there are many advantages to installing wooden fencing. Alternatively, growing conifers to create shade or building a greenhouse or bedding vulnerable plants like strawberries with straw are all excellent ways to protect helpless vegetation.

3. Water thoroughly
The day before you head off, make sure you give the lawn a mow followed by a good soak. Trimming the grass to a slightly shorter length means it won't need as much water but also ensures it won't burn during a sudden sunny spell. Whilst you are away, sprinklers or a few inches of mulch are a great way to ensure plants and grasses stay hydrated.

4. Safeguard plants from direct sunlight
Before you leave, move all of your containers and hanging plants away from direct sunlight and place them in an area of dim shade. During your absence, this will slow down their growth and lessen the amount of water that they require. Remove bottom trays to prevent plant roots rotting and prune any darkening leaves to enable the plant to conserve its reserves.

5. Check for problems
Always do a quick check the week before you leave and try to take care of any problems you can upfront. For example, signs of fungus, aphid infestation or animal pests can be addressed with pesticide sprays or temporary fencing. 

Orangeries: Storing Plants the British Way

One of the most effective means of storing plant life is through the use of an orangery. Ever since these structures were introduced into UK homes during the 17th century, they have been a staple of British homes, becoming more prominent during the 20th century to the point where there now several hundred-thousand UK homes with one.

Despite becoming an extra room added to British homes for a variety of reasons, such as being used as home offices and children’s play areas, the most prolific use of an orangery remains their original intended use of cultivating exotic plants that the climate of good old blightly will not allow for, such as citrus plants.
But what are the correct methods and means of storing plants in an orangery?

Getting the lighting right!
For a plant to truly prosper in an orangery environment, the lighting inside needs to be kept at a level higher than others rooms of the house. This is because the material used for both standard and bespoke orangeries is different to that used for ordinary houses and offices. These materials causing sunlight to pore onto the plants in a way that a household plant will not experience, therefore, considerable shading is needed for the plant’s health. This is particularly true of conservatories and orangeries that are built facing in Southern or Western direction.

The use of window blinds is ideal for achieving the right light as their tilting effect prevents excessive light from entering. Alternatively, painted-on shading can be used. This is a practical water diluted colouring product that is either painted or sprayed onto the outside of an orangery to effectively filter sunlight with no damage to plant life inside.

Watering the plants
The water needed to keep a plant healthy is usually dictated by its size, its number of leaves and the weather conditions surrounding it.

A leafy plant stored inside a small pot will need watering every day during the summer months, and should ideally be watered at least every two days throughout the rest of the year. However, a plant with less leaves and growing within a larger pot is not as likely to require such frequent attention.

As a general rule, watering once or twice a week will be sufficient for plants in such a position, but this is not to say that such an approach should be observed without giving consideration to the appearance of each plant individually because checking plants separately is vital in establishing the level of water it requires.

This check assessment can be made by looking to see if the plant’s compost is drying out. If it is, be sure to add enough water to the plant so that you are sure it is reaching the bottom of the pot.

Don’t be afraid to let a little water pour out the bottom as this indicates that the plant has received enough water to maintain its health for a while. But don’t go crazy with the water either, after all, you don’t want to drown the roots. It’s also worth remembering that cactus plants require less water than others.

Repotting plants in an orangery
If maintained correctly, a plant can prosper fantastically inside an orangery, and this can even mean that the plant becomes so healthy and large that it needs a larger pot to maintain it. When a plant becomes too big for its pot the roots begin to dry out. If you are unsure of whether the roots are suffering behind the disguise of a plant pot, gently remove the plant from its pot and observe the rootball. If it appears tight or you can see the roots protruding, be sure to pot it again as soon as possible. If you make this discovery during the spring or summer months, get the plant in a new pot immediately as the growth of a root is strongest and quickest during these months.

To decide what size pot you should use, the best method is to judge accordingly; but if you are struggling to make a decision, it is advisable to just use a tub that has a circumference of 2-3 cm bigger than the last one you used. Also be sure to feed and maintain the plant in this new pot in as similar a manner as before. After all, the reason you’re repotting the plant is because it’s grown so well under your previous nurture methods. Be sure to keep it well watered after repotting to make sure the roots are comfortable in their new soil.

But what plants should I cultivate?
The original intention of orangeries was to use citrus trees to manufacture fruit such as Oranges, Lemons and Grapefruits. This is still practiced extensively today by orangery owners using a home temperature of 4°C and upwards.

In order to achieve the best effects from their growth, it’s best to keep citrus trees in the lightest area of a conservatory and feed them regularly with citrus fertiliser. Before long you’ll be enjoying a variety of beautiful flowers and delicious exotic fruits in the comfort of your British home. It’s not often you can say that!

If you want to reap the many benefits of adding an orangery to your home, be sure to contact Auburn Hill where bespoke models are custom made to cater for the usage of all customers.   

Repotting Orchids in Bark - A simple Video Guide

Its quite easy to repot your orchids providing you have the correct equipment, orchid grade bark chippings come in differing sizes, if the plant roots are thick choose a larger one, if they are small and thin then choose small chippings. They make a good general compost.

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.

Masdevallia pastinata

Masdevallia pastinata is an intresting species that grows on the western slopes of the Andes in the El Choco region in Colombia. Since Masdevallia stay very small, you can also cultivate a nice collection of Masdevallia on your window sill. The most important condition is a good water quality. They do not like dry air, so misting twice a day is advised if you are not in a humid location. In Europe, these orchids can stay on a facing south window during the winter months, however from late spring to early autumn they should be moved to a less sunny window the temperature in the winter must not drop below 5-7°C.

Masdevallia Orchids

A selection of Masdevallia orchids on the Ochid Society of Great Britains Stand at the 2012 RHS Chelsea Flower show. Starting at the bottom left and moving clockwise are Masdevallia 'Copper Wing', Masdevallia 'Hoosier Angel', Masdevallia 'Falcons Gold' and finally Masdevallia 'Fancy Pants'

Masdevallia, is a large genus of flowering plants of the Pleurothallidinae, part of the orchid family (Orchidaceae). There are well over five hundred different, which are grouped into several subgenera. The genus itself named after Jose Masdeval, who was a physician and botanist in the court of Charles III of Spain.

The native habitat of  Masdevallia is from Mexico down to southern Brazil, with the majority found in the higher regions (2,500-4,000m above sea level) of the Andes in Ecuador and also in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. They can grow as epiphytes, terrestrials or growing as lithophytes on damp rocks.

The plants are characterized by an abbreviated to elongated and creeping rhizome that gives rise to stems that lack pseudobulbs. The stem bears a single, fleshy, ovate to lanceolate leaf. The flowers are triangular and occur singly or in racemose inflorescences. They are characterized by a showy calyx and reduced corolla. The sepals are fused at the base and frequently caudate. The petals flank the semiterete column and the tongue-shaped lip is flexibly hinged to a free column foot.

The species are sensitive to inappropriate cultural conditions and will show signs of stress by leaf spotting or dropping. They can usually be grown in pots with sphagnum moss or seedling grade wood chips although a few species produce descending inflorescences and are best grown in orchid baskets. In both cases the rhizome should remain at the surface of the medium in order to prevent rot.

Most of these plants are from high altitude cloud forests and require very cool conditions and abundant moisture throughout the year. They cannot tolerate dryness, low humidity, or excessive temperatures. They will simply drop all of their leaves and suddenly collapse if allowed to dry completely or are exposed to high temperatures. Many members of this genus from very high altitude cloud forests are not available in cultivation. Most of the species from this genus are considered less difficult in cultivation than plants from the genus Dracula, and some of them are very easy to cultivate and have a weedy habit such as Veitch's Masdevallia, but the majority of these species are usually very difficult to maintain in cultivation unless the plants can be kept cool and moist all the time.

Low humidity conditions or watering the plants with a water source which contains high levels of dissolved salts will result in the leaves yellowing and rapidly dying from the tips back to the rhizome. Masdevallia should be provided with rain water, distilled water or a very pure water source. The medium should always remain moist as the plants do not have any significant storage structures like most orchids.

Win a Stunning Orchid Bowl

We have a stunning Orchid and bowl available to win form Marks and Spencers, this is an easy orchid for most people so you should have plenty of enjoyment from it.

This stylish twin stem multi-floral Phalaenopsis orchid will make a statement in any home. Allow it to cause a stir again and again by displaying by a window that doesn't get direct sun allowing it to bloom for many weeks. With care will re-flower in future.

To Enter all you have to do is answer the following question.

What type of Orchid is pictured above.

a) Phalaenopsis 
b) Paphiopedilum 
c) Cymbidium

Remember we will need to be able to contact you if you do win, so whilst "anonymous replies" can be made to the blog if there isn't a way to contact you then these will sadly have be discounted please leave a twitter name for us to contact you if you enter this way.

Extra entries can be made by sharing this competition on Twitter (include #orchidgardens so we can see your extra entry) or by liking our page and sharing the competition from Facebook. 

An additional entry can be made by "following" this blog via Google Friend Connect

Terms and conditions: This competition closes at 23.59 on 15 April 2014. Any entries received after this time will not be counted. Entrants must be UK residents aged 18 years or older to enter. By entering this competition you agree and consent to your name being published and by taking part in the competition, entrants are deemed to have read, understood and accepted all of the Terms and Conditions and agreed to be bound by them. The winner will be selected at random from the correct entries and will be announced here on the blog. Please make sure we are able to contact you if you do win.

How to Care for Nobile dendrobiums

MONDAY, 11 JUNE 2012

Dendrobium nobile

Dendrobium nobile
Nobile dendrobiums are a good orchid that can are happy to grow and flower in the greenhouse or in the home. The do have rather particular needs that need to be met to get the most from them. When the cultural needs are met then you can get an abundance of beautifully fragrant flowers typically in the spring months.

Nobile dendrobiums do well if given some time out doors - once any risk of frost has past, typically just for the summer months i.e. June to September. They are not keen on direct light so should be given some partial shade for best results. If grown in doors indirect light rather than a windowsill is best.

Like many other orchids Nobile dendrobiums perform best when root bound so dont over pot but keep moist in the growing season and water less at other times of the year.

How to Get the Most from your Dendrobium Orchids

Orchids from the Dendrobium family (which is pronounced den-dro-bee-urn) come from a large swathe of Southern Eastern Asia, covering a huge area that stretches as far as Northern India as well as to the small islands just off the East coast of New Guinea and also well into Australia through to Polynesia. To get the best from them it is particularly important to consider the latitude where they are native to as the Equator runs through the middle of this huge growing territory and it should not be ignored that it is always hot at sea level with pretty much no variation in the seasons.
However if you choose to grow 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'

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.

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.

Cymbidium Chelsea Red

Another beautiful Cymbidium hybrid, Cymbidium Chelsea Red.

Cymbidium Chelsea Red 
Cymbidium Chelsea Red

Ascocenda Tubtim Velvet

Ascocendas  are not a particularly difficult orchid to grow as long as you provide for their needs.They are native to the warm islands of the South Pacific, and as such they need bright light, warm temperatures, and lots of humidity. They will grow and flower throughout the year and unlike many orchids do not have a rest period. However in winter months it is best to reduce the watering to every other day and feed to keep in active growth.

Vanda Orchids

The Vanda family of orchids is not large containing only about fifty species, however it is one of the most important florally. This genus and its close relations and hybrids are considered to be the most highly evolved of all orchids within Orchidaceae. The genus is very highly prized in horticulture for its showy, fragrant, long lasting, and intensely colourful flowers.

The name "Vanda" is comes from the Sanskrit name for the species Vanda tessellata. They are mostly epiphytic, but sometimes lithophytic or terrestrial orchids are distributed in India, Himalaya, SE Asia, Indonesia, the Philippines, New Guinea, southern China and northern Australia.

The genus has a monopodial growth habit with leaves that are highly variable according to habitat. Some have flat, typically broad, ovoid leaves (strap-leaves), while others have cylindrical (terete), fleshy leaves and are adapted to dry periods. The stems of these orchids vary considerably in size; there are miniature plants and plants with a length of several meters. The plants can become quite massive in habitat and in cultivation, and epiphytic species possess very large, rambling aerial root systems. There are few to many flattened flowers growing on a lateral inflorescence. Most show a yellow-brown color with brown markings, but they also appear in white, green, orange, red and burgundy shades. The lip has a small spur. Vandas usually bloom every few months and the flowers last for two to three weeks. Many Vanda orchids (especially Vanda coerulea) are endangered, and have never been common because they are usually only infrequently encountered in habitat and grow only in disturbed forest areas with high light levels, and are severely threatened and vulnerable to habitat destruction.

Vanda "Royal Blue"
The export of wild-collected specimens of the Blue Orchid (Vanda coerulea) and other wild Vandas is prohibited worldwide, as all orchids are listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. However there are many stunning hybrids to interest the collector

Why Gardeners Incorporate a Bird Feeding Station Into Their Gardens

Whether your garden is personal or for the community, it can be an excellent place to feature both the natural flora and fauna of the area. There are a few different ways to draw the natural fauna to your garden or implement it yourself, depending on the type of bird, fish, or animal you are trying to attract. These gardens can be both beautiful and educational for your family or the community. It’s important to do some research to figure out what kind of living things you’d like to attract, purchase appropriate equipment, and grow the correct plants to keep these living things coming back to your garden. You also may need to protect certain plants from particular animals to keep your garden thriving amidst all the life.
Do Your Research
Find out what native plants, animals, insects, fish, and birds live in your area. Determine which animals you’d like to attract to the garden, and implement elements into it that might attract these. If you live in a desert area, you may want to introduce lizards and other amphibians to help control the bug population. Birds can also help with the bugs. Fish will obviously need to be introduced in a controlled way, and you’ll want to make sure your garden ponds are equipped to handle the fish you’d like to feature to ensure they can stay safe and healthy in a controlled environment. Consider how much labor it will take to care for these elements before purchasing them. Frogs and crickets make noise, so be prepared for the noise before introducing them to the environment. It may be your dream to have certain plants, animals, and other living things in your garden, but if they’re not native to the area, it may take too much work to help them thrive.

Equipment to Attract and Maintain
You may need to purchase or provide certain equipment to attract and maintain the presence of birds, animals, and fish in your garden. Once you get them there, make sure they stay. A bird feeding station is an excellent way to initially attract and keep birds in your garden. Click here for a myriad of featured bird feeders and supplies. Birds love birdbaths and feeders, and they are easy to purchase and install. You’ll need to consider how much time you want to spend maintaining both these items and factor that into your decision to get them. Also be aware that when birds are attracted to and stay in an area, they will probably begin to build their nests. Most gardeners will love the presence of these sweet little neighbors and encourage their presence. Birds can also help control the insect population.

Plant Choices
Depending on what plants you choose to put in your garden, you may get little animal visitors -- whether welcome or unwelcome. Plan your garden accordingly. If you live in more rural areas or small towns, rabbits and hares may be attracted to your garden, and while they’re cute, you may need to guard certain plants from their incessant chowing. Rabbits love more than just lettuce and carrots – they have been known to destroy strawberry plants and other precious berries you’ve worked so hard to grow, as well as flowers. Add protection around plants that are targets to animal and bird teeth through gates, screens, and other garden supplies. Likewise, you may want to incorporate plants that will attract certain animals and bugs, such as flowers for bees and butterflies, damp mossy earth for snails, and flowers for hummingbirds.