Posts Tagged ‘Watering’

I’m trying something different this summer with the seven Vandas in my collection. Rather than hanging them either in the Shade House or on poles outside the greenhouse, I’m putting them together above the garden pond. The photo at the left shows them hanging from a rod stretched between two trees.

In this position, the Seven Vestal Vandas enjoy early morning light and late afternoon light, with intermittent light throughout the day. I may discover that this location isn’t bright enough for light-hungry Vandas, but I’ve tended to overdo sun exposure during the last two years (burning the leaves of two plants) – so it’s Vanda-experiment time!

The big galvanized bucket on the right shows the Vandas floating in water with orchid fertilizer. I know I’m breaking all the rules when it comes to letting the seven sisters share the same food trough, but…well, it’s just plain simpler this way than dipping each Vanda in a freshly prepared bucket of water.

I don’t throw out the water in the bucket. After letting the plants soak for a while, I use the water to fertilize the flower pots in the pond garden and in the front yard.

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A great little species bloomed last week: Bulbophyllum frostii. (See the three blooms on the Photo page.) Blossoms look like tiny elves’ slippers. The only downside is that, like many bulbophyllum, frostii’s blooms are a little stinky – not bad, though, because the flowers are so small. In fact, to get even a slight whiff of the carrion odor, you have to put your nose almost in the shoe.

The photo at the left shows my greenhouse pump spray bottles. They each have a specific use – watering, fertilizing, bug spraying, etc. Sometimes the pumps on these bottles get clogged, especially the one that holds the neem oil solution I use for combatting scale. [See November 18, 2009 post for the ingredients in this effective insecticide solution.]

For a long time, I’ve tried unsuccessfully to unclog the pumps using various techniques like running hot water over the pump and/or inserting needles into the spray hole. Rarely did I have success. Last weekend, I found the solution. Most people have already figured this out, but for those few who haven’t…pump very warm tap water through the bottle. Clears the clog in seconds!

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Last weekend I attended the Orchid Society of Greater Kansas City’s exhibit at the KC Lawn and Garden Show. The OSGKC invited several regional societies and national orchid vendors to join our local group for this big event.

Attending a show like this is a great opportunity to learn from some of the best growers in the country. Here are three tips I learned about raising Phragmipediums. The first tip is from Russ Vernon of New Vision Orchids in Indiana and the last two are from Sandy Wells of Hilltop Orchids, also in Indiana.

1. To enhance the brightness of the red blossoms on a besseae phrag, keep the spiking plant cool – around 50 degrees.

2. For more vigorous and blooming phrags, add Epsom Salts once a month when watering: two tablespoons of Epsom Salts per one gallon of water.

3. Also, work a dolomite lime dressing into phrags’ growing medium every four months.

I received a comment on the last post about the damaged phal leaves. A member of the St. Augustine Orchid Society mentions using a regime that calls for Phyton. [Read about Tom Nassar’s suggestions in the SAOS newsletter.]

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Below are three excellent tips from two of Zone 5’s best orchid growers. Susie and Al, recent recipients of the Orchid Society of Greater Kansas City’s 2009 Orchidists of the Year, live near Lawrence, Kansas, about 50 miles west of Kansas City. [Click on the Photos page to see recent blooming orchids from Susie and Al’s collection.]

TIP #1: Re-pot newly acquired plants immediately or as soon as possible.  When you get that new plant, you don’t know how old the media is, or what condition the roots are in.  Give it a fresh start, but give it a similar type of media when you re-pot.

TIP #2: Water quality is extremely important.  Provide water with less than 100 ppm of dissolved salts (minerals), and regularly monitor the quality of the water.  You can do a simple test of your water by boiling down some water in a clean pot to see how much residue is left when boiled dry.  If you use a Reverse Osmosis filter system, change the filters often enough to keep the water quality high.  Too much mineral residue in the water can result in blackened root tips and leaf tips, and for sensitve plants can be their demise.

TIP #3: Assess your collection.  Discard or move on plants that are not growing well or that no longer interest you.  Your time is limited, so focus on the plants that you like and that do well for you.  It’s better to have 100 well-cared for plants than 250 plants that don’t get the care they need.

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