Accentuate a living space or area of the garden with a display of Orchid flowers this Autumn, their bold flowers and colours also making them the perfect living gift for Mother’s Day.
Dendrobiums come from Asia and the Pacific, including Australasia. They grow best throughout Qld and northern NSW and have no leaf drop, so they’re pretty easy care. Water generously in summer and keep them dry in winter. For beginners, try growing the soft-caned types in dappled shade. The floral emblem of Queensland, the Cooktown Orchid, is a dendrobium.
Also called ‘dancing ladies’ oncidiums grow in arching sprays of tiny flowers, typically patterned in yellow and brown. Give them bright shade and a free-draining mix like Searles Orchid Mix -Dendrobium. Oncidiums can be mounted onto bark or trees. Their hardiness makes them perfect for beginners. Native to the tropical Americas, most varieties dislike temperatures below 10 degrees and enjoy humidity. Don’t let them dry out but don’t overwater. Propagate by division.
Also called moth orchids, these orchids are native to south-east Asia from the Himalayas to the Cape York Peninsula. The elegant blooms on the Phalaenopsis appear on long, arching stems for up to six months of the year. Easy- care and highly recommended for beginners, they’re traditionally pink or white but now also flower in lavender, yellow, deep red and variegated forms. Give them plenty of light but not direct sunlight during the summer. A shade cloth should not allow more than 70% of sunlight through.
Native to the tropical Americas, cattleyas have some of the largest blooms of all the orchids and are often fragrant. They’re also fairly tough which makes them good for beginners.
Cattleyas love high humidity and don’t like very cold winters, but some will tough it out if kept dry. Reasonably drought tolerant, cattleyas usually prefer to dry out between waterings, though prefer water regularly during their growing season.
When cattleyas are in flower, avoid watering the flowers as this may lead to the flower rotting prematurely. Cattleyas are good candidates for growing in pots but use coarse, fibrous compost to ensure excellent drainage such as Searles Orchid Specialty Mix. Cattleyas flower only on new flushes of growth. Give them plenty of light but not full sun.
When potted into pots, orchids require an open mix of specially graded pine bark to provide optimum air space and suitable water-holding capacity. Ideally, use Searles Orchid Specialty Mix for best results. Orchids only require re-potting every one to two years. They are happiest when their roots are dangling over the sides of the pot, so only repot them when they look like they are about to topple over.
In the wild, many varieties of orchids will grow on a rock (lithophytic varieties) or in the bough of a tree (epiphytic varieties). These orchids usually derive the nutrients they require from the air, leaf & tree litter and rainwater. Orchids can be secured safely to a tree with a string or a strip of old rag (It’s important only to do this with trees that do not shed their bark).
All orchids need good air movement to help prevent disease and fungal problems. It also helps cool the plant in high humidity. Orchids may need watering daily during hot, dry summers, but this should be reduced considerably to once weekly in winter.
Liquid fertilise before flower bud formation and up to and during flowering with either Searles Flourish Orchid Booster or Searles Flourish Orchid Bloomer every 7 to 14 days. Water diluted mix over foliage and potting mix.
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