Hello Orchid Growers October 2021

Spring has finally established itself and minimum temperatures have started to be consistently warmer. We have had some cooler nights and days even into October this year. Orchids are finally putting out new shoots and roots everywhere. Extensive storms this Spring affected many areas and we hope you are without damage. We dodged a number with strong winds heavy rainfall and hail. The orchids certainly like the stormy rainfall (as well as the grass and weeds).

We have many new varieties approaching being ready to list this season. Over the next months as they are ready we will be progressively listing them on the website. A big repack and organization of the sales area will commence in November with website listings to follow.

Next month we will have to set a deadline for Christmas / New Year dispatch orders. We have been experiencing no problems or issues to date. Expected delays as communicated by Australia Post and Freight Forwarders are still indicating a delayed and disrupted end of year period for dispatch and delivery. We are watching it closely and will advertise it on our website home page and November Newsletter.

Following is some information about growing orchids outside that we hope you will be interested in and benefit from.

GROWING ORCHIDS OUTSIDE

Interestingly over the years we sell more orchids to customers growing them outside or in other ways to the traditional “Orchid House”. Despite having an orchid nursery and growing structures, many of the best growing and flowering orchids that we have are those in our garden. Perusing orchid magazines, books and internet you will find countless examples of many different types of orchids growing and flowering magnificently in their natural habitats or outside. Sometimes it seems that the biggest enemy for successful orchid culture is human intervention!

Alternate Options

  • Shade cloth awnings. Extending brackets from fences and boundaries or verandahs can create a protected shaded area suitable. Northern or eastern aspects will be more successful. Orchids can be attached in pots or mounts on the fence and hung from the fence or brackets.
  • Frames and benches. All sorts of sizes and configurations can be arranged. Verandahs, shaded areas surrounding the house or pool many have various amounts of shading throughout the day. After acclimatizing, many orchids can tolerate full morning sun with partial shading throughout the rest of the day.
  • Hung from and under trees. Various trees have different canopies creating varying degrees of shade underneath. Denser canopies are suited for orchids that require more shade year round. Some trees are deciduous in Winter so that the canopy is exposed and shaded with foliage in Summer. These types of trees are ideal for seasonal growing orchids like Softcane Dendrobiums.
  • Mounted on trees, totems and logs. I have seen so many very successful areas created using a tree and surrounds. Most trees with a rough permanent bark are suitable – Callistemon, Frangipanni, Jacaranda to name a few. Totems, logs and mounts can be used with untreated and weathered timbers. Mounts, pots and baskets can be attached to these.
  • Raised rockery beds. Using rocks and boulders above ground level can create a number of different growing areas. Niches between rocks can create areas where orchids can be “potted” into. Many orchids like Den. speciosum or Encyclia will grow attached onto the rocks.
  • Garden beds. Some types of orchids are suitable for making garden beds or borders. Terete and semi terete Vandas and Arundina can grow in full sun with totems or trellises. Other types of orchids requiring various amounts of shading can also be grown in beds, including Cymbidium, Phaius and Spathoglottis.

Types of Orchids Suitable for Growing Outside

  • Cattleya Alliance. Cattleyas are one of the hardiest and versatile of orchid types. They will tolerate a range of shade and temperature conditions and grow on and in a wide range of options.
  • Vandas encompass a wide range of different types. Terete and semi terete types can grow in full sun. Strapleaf types require partial shade. Most require warmer temperatures and are more suited for non-frost environments.
  • This group of orchids come in a vast range of types growing in a wide range of conditions. Some grow in full sun and others need various amounts of shade. There are very tall growing to miniature types. Some require warm temperatures and others tolerate cool and / or seasonal conditions.
  • This group of orchids can include varieties that require cooler temperatures to flower to varieties that are warm tolerant. Flowering habits can be upright, arching or pendulous spikes. Some are suited to rockeries and others to logs or hanging baskets.
  • These are very hardy and can tolerate a wide range of temperature and light conditions. They can be grown on things, in things or mounted. Many are highly fragrant.
  • Grandmas’ old reed stem Epidendrums were a common garden plant. Reed stem types are very hardy, grow in full sun and are temperature tolerant. There are a wide range colours available now.
  • Oncidium Alliance. Again, there are a vast range of varieties available from cooler to warmer growing types. There are many that will tolerate full sun, but most require partial shade. Can be potted, in baskets and mounted.
  • Phaivs, Spathoglottis and other Terrestrial types. There is quite a range of these that will grow in rockeries and garden beds. Most require partial shade and good drainage.

Factors to Consider

  • Have the right type of orchid for the situation.
  • Have the right type of substrate, growing container, or mount.
  • Orchids need to be acclimatized to growing outside. Best setting up in Spring when new growths and roots are appearing. Water and fertilize lightly and frequently until new roots establishe the orchid.
  • Have the appropriate light, temperature, humidity and drainage for the orchids.

Bert and Amy Bronson’s Orchid Garden

One of the finest orchid gardens that I have ever had the fortune of visiting was that of Bert and Amy Bronson at Victoria Point, Brisbane. They commenced growing orchids in “Orchid houses”, which was superseded by extensive outdoor orchid gardens along the fence line, rockeries, logs and palm trees. In fact, using all of the growing options previously discussed. We have illustrated some pictures of their garden taken in 1992 (by old Kodachrome 64 colour transparency). Their outdoor gardens contained many thousands of orchids comprising dozens of different orchid genera.

An element to Bert’s success was one of his growing media components. They potted many orchids and top-dressed others in Spring with cow manure pads. The secret was that they had to be just right. Amy’s job was to go around the paddock and put her finger into the cow pad. If it was crusty on the outside and firm but moist in the middle, then it was suitable. She would mark these cow pads for Bert to collect and bag for the orchids. She was also a wizard at maneuvering rocks and logs using a crowbar and wheelbarrow. Behind every successful male outdoor orchid grower stands a female with a strong stomach and dirty hands!

Thank you for your support.

Ross and Liz.

Photos October 2021

4 replies
  1. John Lowrey
    John Lowrey says:

    I grow orchids successfully outside of many different species.
    Part of the motivation was to protect my more valuable bush house plants from attacks by the dreaded Dendrobium beetle which works very well.(they are not insect proof structures)
    I cull the little blighters with Mortein in the garden or manually catching them by shaking them into the outstretched hand.
    It works, but is rather labour-intensive

    Reply
  2. Adam W Paddle
    Adam W Paddle says:

    Thanks for your helpful hints and your wonderful stories .I love my orchids and spend plenty of time in my orchid house.. Thanks Adam Macksville NSW.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *