Phalaenopsis Culture in the UK,plus pictures
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Become a 'Grower' instead of just a 'Buyer'.

(Please 'Double click the pictures'! Contained within the text

(Updated 25 Feb 09 'Repoting Pics')   (New! 'Bug Control' 24 July 09) '

 This is intended as a guide for people who have little, or no, idea what to do next with their Phalaenopsis. But want to try to grow the plant on, rather than killing it off or just throwing it away!

       Many Years ago in,1974 when i first started to grow orchids, orchid growers where just starting to leave Osmunda fibre behind and move on to Fir bark and its variant mixes. Since then a multitude of different types of compost have been used e.g.; from the beginning, Osmunda fibre, Fir Bark straight, Fir bark and live Sphagnum moss, German peat, Tree fern, Coir fibre, Coir chips, Cork nuggets, Wine corks,  Fir bark and Perlag or Perlite, Straight Perlite, Rockwool and Perlite, Shredded car tyres, Light weight expanded clay pebbles and many more. I have grown all my plants in all of these with hardly any ill affects. Always, pushing the boundaries for the show bench with these composts and the latest 'Nutrient' with many hours spent deliberating their qualities or pitfalls. Mostly, the outcome was always a root problem!  ( Text = Organic composts)

       My first plants where a car boot full of back bulb propagations of Cymbidiums, some Cattleya, and Dendrobium. I was soon faced with the same problem as everybody else just starting off with orchids 'How to water them and what with'. My only option was tap water and plant food that i used for my plants in the garden. Half died in a short space of time, so i joined my local Orchid society to learn how to do it properly. I was listening to lectures and talking to people who where very experienced  growers in most genera and allied genera, giving lectures on all aspects of orchid growing including the feeding of orchids. Most gave the same general advice, to use one tea spoonful of orchid plant food to the gallon in rain water to be used in the above compost mixes once a month in the growing season. Most people accepted this advice and stuck rigidly to it, but for the people who wished to 'Push the boundaries' a bit further, there where 'American journals' 'Quarterlies' and 'The Phalaenopsis Fancier' this was a 'Postal Forum' with questions and answers from all parts of the world this gave you a very broad insight into what other straight talking growers where doing or using. Our own growers would never divulge any of their growing secrets other than the very 'basics' of culture, you always had the feeling that someone had removed the last page from the book! Well  things have moved on a 'Fair bit' from then! When we talked 'Fertilizers in those days we now talk about 'Nutrients', lots and lots of different combinations to be used at different times of the year, to make 'Things happen' for you. They are all made from the same basic  Materials many with different 'Magical' ingredients added. Some of these did make things happen, but if you 'Over did it' you could in the least end up with strange things happening to your plants, like crippled flowers. Like 'A growth hormone Paste' that is made to induce new plants to grow from the nodes on the flower spike will work sometimes, but if after following the instructions and allowing a couple of months or so, for it to start working, it has not worked, Do not continue using on the same plant because the 'Hormones' in the paste will cripple your plant. and it will proberly never be the same again!

       I usually put people into 3 categories,  'The Begonia grower', 'The Geranium grower', and the one who has never watered a plant in their lives. why because 'The Begonia grower' will keep his plants well  watered to sodden, 'The Geranium grower' will keep his plants dry to desert dry and the last one will have a clear, but receptive,  mind.

       Whilst having conversations with fellow 'Orchidists' it is not long before the  question  'What are you feeding with these days' arises and i always reply 'Very little really' some times people look surprised to hear this, because i run my lab, and use a lot of 'high tech' chemicals, so i feel i have to explain my method of culture in general, so lets try here!. My plants hitting the show bench  when i first started attracted comments from learned growers like 'Very good plants but a little short on roots'. I knew i had a problem but i could not put my finger on it. I reasoned that water, is water, is water! That was to be a real eye opener! I was a 'Begonia  grower' and never a 'Geranium grower' in the greenhouse. I also grew lots and lots of roses and clematis outside. I watered and foliar fed  these every couple of days to get the best growth and flowers out of them, i always had a garden full of flowers. So when i started to grow orchids it was natural to follow what i was used to doing.Then after struggling along for a few years a very good orchidist friend of  mine, from down London way, came to visit for the day, he was a paraplegic ,who commented that i might have a 'Salts' problem. He manufactured and sold  'Deionizer units'  for a living, and loved his orchids, so he knew what he was talking about. By the time he had left, many scales had been lifted from my eyes regarding water and nutrients and ph. Tell tale signs like heavy scale in the kettle, calcium deposits on the green house glass and plant leaves, revealed my tap water was pretty hard  (550 us) The top end of the  nutrient scale for orchids is around 1000 us. which is okay for species like Cymbidium, most Cattleya genera and perhaps some Vanda types in their growing season. At the other end of the scale are miniatures like Masdevallia's, Dracula's and Equitant Oncidiums, (Tolumnia's) these require very little nutrient to flourish, But they do insist on Good Clean water. Somewhere in the middle is Phalaenopsis, most Paphiopedilum, Dendrobium, Phragmipedium, Angraceum and many more.  

  Key points on feeding,  

    First, you must have good water! Rain water or Reverse osmosis, last is tap water!. If you suspect that you have hard water and you can't do much about it, pot your plants into Organic compost and keep moist at all times. This will help to buffer the salts in the water, also cut feeding to a minimum. Many areas have very good tap water, so have a look in your kettle for scale or ask your local plumber. Your local water authority is also duty bound to tell you what is in your drinking water, and the Ph. Also you will get a good lather on your soap with soft water. If you have to use tap water (in house) boil it in your kettle to get rid of any chlorine, this will also take out some of the calcium carbonate, let it cool and use. Alternatively, leave it stand at greenhouse temperature for 24 hours to get rid of the chlorine content. This is where it gets a bit high tech! if you own a salts meter, you will know that is uses a scale called 'micro Siemens'. When i purchased one and started to check what i was using, well it was off the clock! My tap water was 525 us and i was adding around another 500 plus of nutrient. Putting my nutrient feed water well over the top, this is why i was losing my roots! If we are really trying to push on our big Phals we can add nutrient up to a maximum of 1000us but this requires optimum conditions, leave this to the big guys who have calculative brains, i haven't so i do it my way. So we only have a very narrow band of 1000us in which to feed nutrients! to the plant's. (Continued shortly)

  Rain water,

    Will measure around 30us depending on which way the wind is blowing, i have to put up with the local Power station which deposits soot all over the greenhouses in particle size up to 4 mm across this would make the rainwater very acidic and too troublesome to use. If you use rainwater it will probably have been caught in a barrel, it will look pretty dirty and will smell just a bit!. This is because the water has become stagnant and has a bacteria problem. To make the water safe for your plants, use a pinch of ' Potassium Permanganate ' or enough to turn the colour very light Pink/Violet. If you make it too strong Dilute it, this is important!  you can get this from your local Pharmacy. Costs very little and lasts a fair while. It's use will also help with bacterial problems such as 'Crown Rot'. (See below, a useful growing Kit)

.A 'Reverse Osmosis' unit ,

      This is attached to a mains pressure line, and the mains water  forces tap water through a membrane. Now you have to think of water in the 'molecule' stage much smaller than 'Blood cells' only pure molecules will get through the membrane, the impure ones are discharged to waste When the water in produced it is also free of bacteria. This is Not a water filter! it will produce many hundreds of gallons (Backflush on a regular basis) of near pure water that is ideal for drinking and cooking, (A must have if you suffer from kidney or gall stones), when you have enough water you simply turn it off until you require more. It also means that you always have more than you want very handy when needed! It is self cleaning to a certain degree, and it removes 99% plus of everything that is in the tap water. This it better than rainwater because it still leaves in a good source of minerals available to the plant, but none in excess. You can then add nutrient up to 1000us. So, you have effectively got rid of everything in the tap water that was not wanted and that could do the plant harm over a period of time, and have replaced them with everything that the plant wants. How do we know what the plant wants ? Well we don't! we have to guess, if you guess wrong, and i know a few high profile growers who have, you could be in 'root' trouble. Orchids take a few days or more to show any distress!. The 'Penny dropped' for me when we where using a 'Rockwool and Perlite' mix. We where told to 'Pour Nutrient Water through the pots until it ran out of the drainage holes', several times if needed. The reason for this was to 'WASH OUT' any accumulated salts from the last watering and 'REPLACE' any nutrient that had been used by the plant, since its last watering. In effect returning the nutrient level to 'Status Quo' after every watering. Don't do this with Bark based or organic composts, use less nutrient to the pot and foliar feed the leaves with Runoff to the compost, this is basically how the Commercial growers do it! Do this early on in the day!

 Updated September 09    Bark differs from Country to Country and also in quality, choose a hard bark that has some thickness to it, this will not pack down in your pot as readily as thin leafy types. Mix in some 'Perlite or Perlag', to open it up. Bark dries out from the top of the pot downwards so if you water when it 'Looks Dry' you will have a perpetually wet bottom to the pot. To eliminate this and improve conditions in the pot, use a layer of polystyrene or gravel in the bottom 1/5 of your pot or use the upside down pot method described in the repoting chapter, This will keep your compost generally drier with a more even wetness about it, Never let it dry out completely or you could get burnt roots and your plant could collapse. You will need to take more care with the watering schedule and have a more 'Hands on approach', lift the pot, if it feels heavy like it as a large stone in the bottom, don't water, give it a miss for another few days. It shouldn't take you long to determine if your repoting schedule and the compost you are using is suiting you, and your plants. If you are loosing your bottom roots in the pot, add more drainage as above () The useful life of a bark compost is roughly 12 months, this is particularly true if you have a dry growing environment and you have to water 2-3 times a week. If you have a damp-wet environment you will have to water less. The more water you put into the compost the faster it will rot down. 'Bark is only as good as the day it was put in the pot' so the saying goes! Pot ever 12 months after your main flowering period, don't worry about it being in flower, just be careful and try not to damage any roots. What happens is that the plant takes on a new growth spurt, it will produce new roots and a new leaf or two before it puts up new flowering spikes in the autumn -winter. But the main thing is the plant has fresh compost to carry it through until the spring with no problems!! When the bark starts to break down it starts to act much like a mini compost heap. When you feed the bark with nutrients this starts a bacterial reaction and this starts the break down of the bark, within 12 months it will start to affect the  roots. During the early stages of this break down process your plants will grow very fast because the bacteria breaking down the bark is turning it into more nutrients for the plant to use. But then it gets to a point of no return, when the bark has deteriorated that much, that it turns to a 'Gooey mess' reducing the Oxygen content in the pot and starts to attack and rot your roots. Your plants will then start to deteriorate with root and leaf loss and desiccated leaves, Flower spikes will have smaller flowers because they haven't got the roots to support them. Do not use Decorative bark from Garden centre outlets because it is sometimes sprayed with weed killer or other chemicals!.

     You have to provide just enough nutrient to the plant to last it until its next watering, anymore is wasted. NO more, NO less, its that easy. Do this for a complete growing season, if you then think that you can push them a bit more, vegatively, then increase your nutrient level slightly, Don't! over do it!. To understand your plants needs better! Please click on this link! 'What is plant Nutrition'

Watering, 

    My green houses are watered daily, they are given a 'Spritsing' to a moderate dowsing over the top of the plants every day no matter what the weather is, except for the onset of prolonged bad weather in winter. Bad weather watering, Take the temperature down to 65 degrees Day, 60 degrees Night, no over the top watering. Water to the side of the pot just enough to stop them drying out, all aerial roots are soaked on hanging plants. Keep slightly moist at all times, or your buds will yellow and drop. Don't go crazy with the water on one good day, if you have more bad days to follow!, once its in the pot you can't get it out. Match the humidly to the temperature, you will require more damping down at night to combat dry fire heat ().. I have no specific humidity system, although i did have many moons ago, But they tend to breakdown on power failures when you need them most . The drying out of the plants provides the necessary humidity during the day supplemented with a leaky hose on the floor in the west and south greenhouses and the home made humidifier in the North greenhouse. If the sun is out this will provide the warmth necessary to evaporate the water from leaves. If its a dull day the heaters will do the same job, a fine balance is drawn upon how much water to give the plants. My system of growing determines that i can water  each green house in sections on different days whilst still providing necessary humidity even in the dark days of winter. Watering like this means that i can now apply nutrients on a daily basis in microscopic form and change the nutrient on a daily basis to suit weather conditions Basically you could call it foliar feeding on a grand scale! 

Nutrient types used;> i use only 2 all year round, and in 3 greenhouses i use around 250 grams, not a lot!.

          1./ The first is basically a hydroponics high potash of 13-13-25 +4 mg + all the little micro bits, this could well be 'Phostrogen' in the UK'  Buy the 'Tomato Feed' . and still use the Calcium nitrate!

        2./  The other is Calcium nitrate. Calcium is the 4th biggest macro and should be almost equal to nitrogen e.g.; nitrogen /phosphorus/ potash/ then calcium but manufactures leave it out because it reacts with some of the others!.

   Analysis./   Nitrogen (N) 15.5%  ( Nitric Nitrogen 14.5%    ammoniacal Nitrogen 1.0%)     plus  Calcium Oxide (CaO 26.6%) ()

The calcium is required by all parts of the plant and because it if soluble it is readily available!

            I can make and apply different nutrients out of these two,

1./ and 2./ alternately, from  January to August + extra magnesium sulphate (Epson salts) once a month

         1./ Full strength 2./quarter  strength mixed together

These are made up in 100 litre tanks, the feed is changed when the tank has been used and is refilled, which is around a 1 week cycle. I also use vitamin B1 as an additive 2 or 3 times a year also a small amount of seaweed extract occasionally very, very, weak because it will stain the flowers  and the roots.

Bug Control.

New insecticides on the market kill just about everything that crawls, sucks, fly's or bites. These are just two that i can recommend;

 

Both are fast acting with contact and systemic action, both have a slight smell that disappears quite quickly. The yellow product will kill bugs already within the flowers, Whilst the Blue product seems to miss these. There are two completely different chemical bases here, they are not the same, which have basically a very good long-lasting effect! Try to alternate applications after every 3 uses! Use Mentholated Spirits with a cotton bud or small child's paint brush to hand clean your plants. Either water your plants or spray your root area with a fine mist, (Not the leaves) to get the application strait into the plant and avoid run off! Use the spray at arms length to avoid contact with it and ventilate the area! and use gloves if you can! Lastly shop around for a good price, there are big differences!  Follow the instructions and your growing area will soon be bug free!

 Using a Begonia to Geranium equation,

    most orchids are on the begonia side and are subjected to heavy to torrential rainfall for most of the year. This results in 100% or near humidity most of the time. The plants have evolved in these conditions temperatures of 80 degrees max, moderate air movement to dry plants hanging in the air or sitting on a branch of a tree or fixed by its roots to the side of a tree. This is okay for their places of origin and say Florida, Hawaii and other hot sticky places but no good for Europe, So how do we get around these problems. Firstly we have to take stock of where you will be growing these plants indoors or greenhouse, we will take the greenhouse first!. Temperature should be a max of 80 degrees in mid summer, no more, or the plants will stop growing until it cools a little. Light should be moderate, avoid the extremes, you will lose plants growing in the high and low extremes, e.g.; plants will be susceptical to black rot if they are kept wet for too long in temps below 60%. If you keep them 'dryish' at this temperature they will do very well .Too much humidity below this  temperature will make it feel cold and damp and  will cause bacterial spotting on your white Phals. Humidity should be low to moderate, the danger part for  low humidity is after midnight until sunrise when your boiler or fan heater is on a fair bit. Over a period of time this will excessively dry out composts which will lead to desiccated plants, these can be hard to bring back to full health through the winter months. Give them the plastic bag treatment ()( )

Above 80 degrees you will be constantly watering to combat the quick drying out of the compost, you will have a fan on or the vents open this will also dry out the pots  losing most of your humidity and creating a drying out of the compost in the greenhouse in general and again desiccation of the plants double quick. The solution to high temperatures in the greenhouse is to use shading like me. It stops most of the heat at the shading level but still lets  enough light to grow most things at my point in the UK. You have to stop the heat getting through the glass. Incidentally this shading has been in some very high wind conditions of late and it has not ,'Flown away' as yet. Lift it higher if you can it should work even better! At this point in time summer (that's a joke) July 2008 and 09 Temperature in high seventies plants are watered well in the morning, green house doors are opened about 12" and will stay open until the temperature gets down too around 65 degrees or 1 hour before night fall. The green house smells cool and fresh but the day is not over yet! I go around the plants root zones in pot and hanging aerial roots with the finest of spray from a mister bottle the type that get used in the kitchen  Don't wet the plants, just the roots. . By pre wetting the roots in this way it enables them to absorb humidity from the greenhouse much quicker during the night. Strong growth is achieved  by doing this, with good length to root tips, this is a good sign of good culture and good humidity.

How much you water and how much of that is retained in the pot is determined by the compost that it is grown in. First a statement that i read  some where , 'Orchid roots do not grow in the compost, they grow in the spaces in between',  and it is perfectly true. Close your eyes and put your self in there habitat! Collectors say that they are found growing in close vicinity to rivers, growing on the branches of trees overhanging the watercourse with their roots firmly fixed to the branch and covered with a deep coating of live sphagnum moss. Others are fixed to the sides of the tree trunks with no covering of moss still more growing on rocky outcrops  along side waterways. All the plants are soaked nearly every day with fresh, oxygenated, pure rainwater. Their only food source is whatever is in the water plus decaying vegetation, moss, fruit , bird and animal droppings. All this would be in a soluble  form so that it could be sucked up by the plants root system which does get very extensive. If a plant in these conditions had only 1 or 2 roots it would not be able to draw in much food to support itself, but if it had a good number of roots it would flourish . Its exactly the same when it is in a pot in the greenhouse or home ( This plant has long outgrown its pot and loves it.)

The plant growing in the moss has a different root structure to the roots growing on the side of the tree it is an 'In the pot' root the other type is an 'Out of the pot' root, or aerial root. The 'Out of the pot' root will most proberly rot back and die off if placed in compost, especially organic. The Roots contain 'Air Cells' if you water the roots these will show up as little white  flecks ( ) So when you repot, Don't  put these roots in the compost and Don't cut them off either, if you lose your roots the plant will be in a very precarious position and perhaps past saving, although they may do alright in inorganic compost. Put the plant in a plastic bag large enough to contain the plant put a small quantity of  slightly moist , not wet , Sphagnum moss or 'Perlite' in the bottom for the plant to sit on , fold top of the bag over but do not fasten. This will sit there for a couple of months or longer before anything, growth or roots, start to grow  Patience is needed!.  You can best describe roots as being like very strong drinking straws made out of blotting paper. Their use is to hold the plant to its tree branch, tree trunk or flower pot they also DRINK water and nutrients and whatever else is available in liquid form.The action of light on the leaves starts the drinking process, drawing it up into the plants leaves then transpiring through the leaves  into the surrounding atmosphere. During this process food is manufactured within the leaves and roots, this is known as photosynthesis. During this 24 hour period of day-night they need a drop in temperature or 10-15 degrees at night for the plants to complete the food making process. If they don't get a drop in temperature the plants will start to look sick, limp shrivelled or yellowing leaves because they are not following their biological clock. During this process the plant deposits its waste through the roots! If this is allowed to remain in the pot the plant will not grow or will not grow very well .This is one of the reasons why you are advised to flush out the pot with clean water. Also, this is why when you repot the plant, within 2 weeks or so it has a new surge of growth. Phal's love fresh compost, so if your plant has been sitting around, not doing anything for a couple of months, Repot! but first check that your latest leaf is fully grown.( + )

Repoting,

    You can repot Phalaenopsis at most any time of the year, as long as you can keep good culture, with not so much water, but good light and moderate temperature to ensure rapid recovery. How to tell if your plant needs help,  Well its proberly become unstable in its pot, has been knocked over, you can see brown rotten roots . The compost looks a soggy mess and it smells somewhere between earthy and horrible, flaccid leaves with possible loss of some roots, (through over or under watering). Losing 2 or more leaves from the bottom of the plant, any of these reasons make a good case for a repot!

()  ()  ()  ()  ()  ()  ()                                                                                                                A total repot,   

    Scares the life out of some people, well it shouldn't, because it is fairly easy! First check that the plant will go back inside the same pot, if not choose one that will give you 1 years growth if your plant has lots of roots. If it has not, pot it down a size smaller. Be careful NOT to break roots this is where you will wish you had two pairs of hands, Put your hand gently on top of the root area spreading the fingers to hold the plant secure next upend the plant and pot. Gently squeeze the outside of the pot and at the same time move your fingers around to let the loosened compost fall through. When the pot is empty, turn it back upright, still holding it with both hands. if the plant comes out by itself no problem, wash out the pot, or replace, clean up the root system cutting away any dead bits also check for any insect nasty's, and remove. Also if you feel capable, remove any dead leaf ends. These are quite strong so split them down the middle before you attempt to pull or twist them away from the plant. Doing this keeps the plant looking clean and removes some of the hiding places for 'Bugs' You will find dormant or newly emerging root tips or spikes  behind these 'Dead' looking bits, so be careful.( ) If you do see an emerging spike (don't attempt to remove these dead leaf ends. Next, hold and position the plant 1" below the top of the pot and place in the bottom of the pot some large size pieces of broken brick or pebbles for drainage and to add extra weight to help your plant stand up, especially when it is in flower. Next pour in your choice of compost. If it is organic, a few gentle taps and pushes with your fingers will suffice, but work it in well around the roots. We want a moderate to loose pot because the first half dozen waterings will pack it down for you, and still allow the plant to breath. If you pack it too hard it will not take up water readily and your plants could - will desiccate.

 Top dressing,

    Your plant  was repotted in spring and has grow quickly, it also has developing flower spikes, but you are worried that the compost may not last through the winter- spring flowering period. The answer is to 'Top- dress' it!, remove the top third of the compost and replace with fresh. Don't go above the new root zone ( ) you want the new roots to grow straight into the compost  If the roots are attached to the pot care must be taken to keep them from getting broken, also cut off any dead bits of roots, then repot as described before. You will need to have  a flower cane and some easy twist plant ties handy. Then insert the cane close to the plant centre taking care not to spear any roots, tie the plant to the cane just enough to stop it rocking about,  a couple of taps  on the side of the pot will help settle it down,  recheck the compost level in the pot. If you decide to go for a total repot you will have to run a knife around under the roots to release them from the pot, take great care with the tips! Lastly, DON'T forget to replace the label .

 Why keep on about the roots? 

    Well these are the most important part of the plants structure basically, no roots, No plant! or at the very least a 12 month wait to try and grow it back to good health. Try the plastic bag method (see picture), but with a good root system you will have a good chance of growing it back fairly quickly  ( ). The little emerald green tips are constantly elongating forward and they Do have a mind of their own they basically grow towards the light or a water source If you damage them they will cease to grow any further reducing the plant 's ability to feed. They will, however, sprout new side growths at a later date.() If the tips are active the plant is growing! () if the tips are not active the plant is resting!. although it can be growing spikes and flowering, treat it as having a slight breather, it is only when the new root tips begin to 'Green up' and grow that the plant has returned to active growth this is the signal to 'Repot'! . If a new leaf starts you should still wait for the roots! If the plant has not started to grow after a month or two, Repot or Top dress. Phalaenopsis do not rest, usually something is not to their liking, moving them to a brighter and or warmer position will do the trick!. The plant will then, hopefully , spring back to life in a couple of weeks, it may or may not drop a leaf at the full repot stage, but it shouldn't give too much cause for concern. It is basically an 'After shock' with possible excessive root damage. Losing leaves at the top centre of the plant is trouble: a wet soggy looking leaf usually means over watering in not ideal conditions e.g.; too cold, black circles on the leave is black rot ()()  cut off or cross hatch the spot () and rub in 'Cinnamon powder' this is a first class fungicide for plant problems. Leaves dying back from the tip of the leaf should be cut off up to one half inch into good tissue then seal the cut with Cinnamon powder (before) and (after ) use a sterile blade for cutting or cross hatching,  Cross hatching! you score through the top half of the leaf without coming through the bottom and visa versa but opposite to the underneath of the leaf!! with a sterile razor blade and re-sterilize in a flame  after every cut, especially after every plant! Why not just cut off the whole leaf? well some plants may have a small leaf area and the plant needs every bit of 'Green Leaf 'to produce food. Also if you look at the top of the pot and the compost in the last 2 pictures You will see that there is an accumulation of salts on the surface and round the edge of the pot. Although the roots are not suffering yet, it will almost certainly be the cause of the leaf dying back, to solve the problem Repot!

                      If you water the compost when it is dry with nutrients, you will proberly burn the roots, so pre- water with plain water and wait until next day to feed .Your compost will eventually start to look a bit  crusty with a whitish/orange look about it. this is nutrient salt in a dangerous super concentrated state!. This must be removed,  perhaps with a top dress, before any new roots emerge otherwise they will turn black and stop growing. The compost acts like a filter bed when you water and feed, with the action of the compost going from wet to dry. A dry compost creates another problem, if it has a high salt concentration it will burn roots throughout the pot, then when you re wet  the plant ,the roots could rot!.

  How to grow Large Phals,

    I start the plant in a 3" square pot, if the plant as grown well in 6 months i will pot on into a 5" square but i only pot just above halfway up leaving a good one and half inch to the top of the pot, another six months on and the plant should have lifted itself to the top of the pot .You have two options here a complete repot or a top dress with new compost. Why bother top dressing when you can repot with fresh, well some plants don't like to be disturbed Large standard whites, pinks and stripes are okay but a bit more caution is needed when repoting species. These grow very close to their 'Biological clock' and do need a bit of 'TLC'   repot species in the autumn but no latter than end of September unless you have after care facilities e.g.: light and warmth 65-70+ To pick them up quickly. Put them in a light position and bag them up (see picture coming) until new roots on well on the way. All this may seem like a lot of trouble but this is where you earn your street credibility and become a 'Grower' and not just a 'Buyer'.  Grow them a bit brighter in the winter months but be wary of strong sunlight in late January-February. How much light is to much! well with light comes heat, Phalaenopsis leaves will burn quite quickly, but you may not see the damage for a couple of days and you will be wondering what happened . Hold one of the plants leaves in the palm of your hand exactly as in picture ( ) or between the two palms of you hands if the leaf feels warm move the plant back away from the light source, and  if you are growing in a greenhouse, shading and cooling fans are a must, on a rising temperature!.

 Do not use digital timers in the greenhouse because if the power fails it will set the clocks back to Zero, then all hell will break loose! if you don't spot it.

A useful growing Kit () all of these can be purchased at your local chemist (Pharmacy) for around a couple of pounds each, or less !

December 2011

 

I Have been visiting a friend of mine for the last 19 years, 2-3 times a year, he grows 600 plants exceptionally well and always has lots of plants in flower, with many flowers, amongst these where primary hybrids! He also has a fuel bill that is a great deal less than mine. He tells me that they have to grow in a temperature that he can afford and that he do's not put his boiler on until temperatures start to fall below 60 degrees, on a regular basis. I would say his greenhouses are brighter and drier than mine in winter and he waters weekly, if required, keeping pots on the dry side. Plants are potted in a bark, perlite, mix. Needless to say, his method of doing things suits his growing environment,

 Looking for space in the north greenhouse, in December 2010, for young plants growing ever larger i decided to transfer most of the larger plants to the south greenhouse. Minimum temperatures in this is 60 degrees on the coldest night. I decided on a 'Do or Die' approach!, the plants all went through the winter, November until March with no problems at all, and on the plus side on inspecting the plants, in March, i was amazed to see that most of these plants where producing 2-3 new spikes, making a total of 6 spikes! on many! with the previous years spikes. These plants are now going into their second winter at 60degrees Minimum night temperature!.

'2013 Update'

      So last spring i transferred many plants of 4-5" size (from the young plants page), from the 65degree night 70 day greenhouse' to grow on. All have come through this horrendous winter with flying colours and many are now coming into spike! The only plant that did not like it was bellina, I wouldn't recommend night temperatures below 65degrees  for this species, but bellina crosses such as Samera are perfectly okay with careful watering to the pot.     

 


If you have any queries Please email!    bodenorchids@hotmail.co.uk

Mike Boden


 

 This will be continually updated!

 

 

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