Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Choosing Orchid By Examining The Family Tree

When I was a novice in the orchid hobby, I don't know where to begin. I read everything that I can catch hold on. Some of the magazine are from the American Orchid Society,The Orchid Society Of South East Asia, Hawaii Orchid Society and numerous others.

One thing I notice that there are certain plants that continue to produce outstanding off springs with high percentage of quality flowering plants. This has to do with genetic. The dominant and recessive genes. Like other things, genetic play an important role in the structure and makeup of the whole plant.

Those who are familiar with Horses, cats dogs and others. Genetic is not something new to them. Parents chosen as stud are carefully selected from high quality stock which have potential or are known to impart the desired quality to the future off springs.

Orchid hybridiser usually visualised a certain type of flower characteristic he wanted. He will look for parents which he thinks can produce the quality that he have in mind.

Normally good parents or stud plants have dominant genes and have a higher tendency to produce high quality seedling bearing the characteristic desired. Some good stud plants are scientifically classified as 4n. Sometime both are from established stud, but most of the time only one stud will also achieve the desired outcome. There is no iron clad guarantee that all the qualities of the stud plants will be inherited fully by the off springs. If parents plants are carefully chosen, than the chances of striking at a show quality orchid flower is higher. But some plants are designed for cut-flower industry, which requires different blooms characteristic.

Famous stud plants from the past are Arachnis Hokeriana, Vanda Josephine Van Brero(JVB), V.Emma Van Deventer, V. Miss Joachim"Dougles", V. Dawn Nishimura, Ascocenda Choo Lai Kuen, V. Sanderiana, V. Coerulea, Renanthera Storei, Renanthera Nancy Chandler etc.

Now come to the more interesting part of selection of seedlings when we are satisfied with the parentage of the batch of young plants.

Normally I will look at the leaves and stem structure of the seedlings itself. Example, a cross made with Renanthera Storei and Vanda Dawn Nishimura. If I prefer to have future flowering plants with more characteristic of Dawn Nishimura, I would select seedlings which exhibit structure of Vanda Characteristic. If I fancy future Renanthera like flowers, I would opt for leaves and stem structure of Renanthera stature.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

How To Deal With Scale Infestation On Orchid Plants

Orchid plants are also not free from diseases. Most of these maladies are first shown on the leaves. If we are observant many of these can be easily overcome at the beginning stage with a few applications of insecticides or fungicides. Scale is one of them and I personally found this site from South Dakota State University very informative.
How To Deal With Scale Infestation

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Pros And Cons Of Fish Fertilizer For Orchids

Hi, this is Fred again. When I open my e-mail this morning I saw mail pertaining to
usage of fish fertilizer on orchid plant.

"I have the Alaska fish liquid fertilizer. Just got it yesterday, and used
it. It looks like sludge and smells like a fish cannery, but weaker. It made
me gag too. How is the orchid supposed to utilize whatever fish parts are in
the sludge without the normal bacteria that would be normally present in the
soil to break it down to the orchids usable parts? Is it even worth the
time to tolerate the smell?

I wonder if you have any experience or knowledge of how orchids would make
the sludge usable? The smell also makes me wonder if a housefly would lay
eggs on the media thinking there is rotting fish for their babies to eat.

Do you know if the orchid can make use of the fertilizer without the normal
bacteria that are usually found in soil?

Plus the readily available nitrogen is extremly low, and the water soluble
nitrogen is high in comparison to the 1st one. Do you think its worth the
time to use it?"

Yes, just try to forgive the smell, try using the deodorized version. However for me it worth using it. My dendrobiums and Cattleyas loves it very much. There are techniques of effective use of fish fertilizer on orchid plants.

Firstly it must not be used as the main fertilizer. It must be supplemental in nature. I use it about twice a month.

Secondly, it must be mixed with some fungicides.

Thirdly, try to avoid spraying into the shoot or apex of the plant.
Just focus spraying on the roots, since it is not foliar in nature.

There are various brands available in the market.The brand I use is called
"all purpose deodorized fish emulsion" with N-P-K of 5-1-1.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Orchid Memories

When I first started to plant orchids, I just based my choices from the beautiful photos printed inside the catalogs and price lists which I requested from orchid nurseries abroad. I remembered a few nurseries like Kasem Booncho Nursery,T Orchids,Kultana Orchids from Thailand,Yamada and Kawamota from Hawaii, Koh Keng Ho from Singapore and a few from USA like Orchid Glade and GEM Orchid. The addresses I just select from the advertisements in The American Orchid Society magazine at the library. At that time internet was never heard off.

I would bring these catalogues to the local orchid nurseries and discuss with them. Sometime I am lucky to get a few of the plants of my liking. But most of the time they gave a counter recommendation of those in their stock. I would buy seedlings from all kind of crosses in the tumbpots, 2" or 3" pots sizes and hope to owned an award winner. Crosses from the fanciful parentage would be my first choice.I still can remember such names like Vanda La Bella Margarita, Emma Van Deventer,Tan Chai Yan, Josephine Van Brero and the national flower of Singapore Vanda Miss Joaquim.

Aranda Christine no.1 and Wendy Scott were the plants for cut-flower. Earlier on it was Arachnis Maggie Oei "red ribbon", James Storei and Oncidium Golden Shower also known as Dancing Lady. As for Cattleya it was Crispine Rosales and Lucky Strike. In the two tone yellow red lip hues we have Lc. Amber Glow and Dorset Gold. Whereas for white we have Queen Sirikit and Queen Dowry. In the Vandas kingdom, we have two tone (upper white and lower brown) Sanderiana from the Phillipines and blue tesselated Corulea from Thailand. Majority of the vandas that we see today originated from crosses and back crosses from these two species. Storei from the Philippines is an all time favourite for renantheras crosses. Well known crosses with this stud in the blood line are Brokie Chandler, Nancy Chandler, Kalsom, Red Feather, Prince Akihito, Tom Thumb etc. Well known intergeneric are Lena Rowold, Ernestara Helga Reuter, Renanthopsis Star Fire and Sagarik Wine. In future articles I may brag about How To Select Seedlings and Famous Stud Plants. No promise.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Orchid flower - Winner Of 17th WOC Renanthera Category

This is another orchid photo of Renanthera Storei hybrid and the winner of the Renanthera category at the the 17 World Orchid Conferrence held at the Mine Wonderland. Notice the parasol nature of the flower stem with numerous sub-branches and hundred of flowers.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Why Orchid Don't Bloom

Trouble getting Renanthera to bloom?

The plant must be matured.It must reach a certain height depending on the parent plants. Those with storei parentage in the family tree take higher to spike, sought of 1 ft and above.

There are basically 2 types.
First type has monopodial growth like Storei and Coccinea.
The second one is shorter and and tend to be clustering and can not withstand very strong sunlight. Example Matutina and Monachica.This one can be grown hanging like Vandas.

Root system must be strong and established.Look for sign of damaged root tips.
Insect especially cocroaches like to feast on the tender root tips at night.
So are earthworms. Since roots are the main souce for fertilizer absorption any injury will have profound affect on the plant.

Types of fertilizer. When it is young use fertilizer with higher nitrogen composition. It can be organic or straight chemical base mixed by the manufaturer under various brand name. But I prefer to alternate these 2 sources.
As the plant matures shift it to fertilizer with higher phrosperous content.

Third is quality of sunlight. When newly planted locate it in a less sunny part of the garden, preferably morning sun. Try to avoid mid day or afternoon sun. If you water the plant at this hour, the water droplets on the leaves may become a magnifying glass capable to scorch the leaves surface. It is burning in the tropics at this hour especially during the hotter and drier season.

Provided all the above are met, now come the weather. This is something that we can not control if we plant it in the open air like in the tropics.

In the greenhouse condition it is possible.

Normally most of the Renantheras in my garden will spike after the raining reason followed by a hotter season.In my locallity the raining season is in November and December. Then January and February is the hotter season. At his point I can see many of my Renantheras and its hybrids starting to bloom. Therefore it require a drop in the temperature followed by an immediate rising temperature for spike to initiate.

Research has been conducted for orchids in general to bloom, it takes changes of 8 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit Height between the night and day temperatures. You can try this if you have a controlled environment or greenhouse.

Some plants especially hydrids may not flower at all even if I grow untill
6 or 7 feet.The same is also applicable to mericlones. I remembered about 20 years ago, one nursery man in our locality went to Hawaii to take a 3 weeks course in mericloning. On the way home he bought some flasks with young plants at protocorm stage. He divided the clusters, put it into hundreds of new flasks with his new mericloning recipe, mount on the shaker and generate thousand of seedlings for sale. He made money because mericlones were taking the industry by storm. I also bought 10 plants from him they all never flower. The other types I bought 30 plants. The plants flowered but bearing shorter spike with not more than 5 flowers and almost every spike ended up with rotten buds. Whereas the original plant had 11 flowers per spike earning an AM/AOS award.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Cultural care for Cattleya, Cymbidium, Dendrobium, Phaphiopedilum and Phaleanopsis can be obtained at http://www.aos.org/aos/orchids/page01.aspx

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Orchid Book

The other day I met my former college friend, Mary at the mall. We lost touch for about 25 years so we have alot of catching up to do and ending up at Coffee Bean. Mary is now married with 3 loving daughters. She asked me what am I doing now? I told her I am now enjoying working in the bank and is still continuing with my orchid hobby.A way to reduce daily stress. Well her eyes brighten up. She said "I am also starting to love orchids and I have about 30 plants with lot of beautiful flowers". Then we went into so many things about orchid planting and orchid care. Before we part she ask me for the best orchid book I would recommend to her and where she can get a copy for her easy reference. Well after 2 days of going through my small library of orchid books I would recommend Home Orchid Growing by Rebecca Northern. I used this a lot when I was starting out in orchid growing.It is a proven orchid care manual in it's 4th edition. Mary, if you are reading my simple orchid blog, you can locate the publisher of the book Here!.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


While browsing at various orchid newsgroups I came across a post asking about how to bloom Renantheras. There are various like minded orchid enthusiasts who generously contributed and share their personal answers.One nice lady by the name of Nancy said "Epsom salts is (I think) magnesium sulfate. It's one of those trace minerals often missing from standard fertilizer mixtures. Magnesium supposedly performs two functions: it helps plants to tolerate higher levels of sun without burning (it's seasonally-growing tropicals like plumeria), and it also is said to strengthen the plant walls, so the foliage can support itself and stay upright, rather than sprawling.

Many people around here use it several times in the spring just as growth is beginning, not only on orchids, but other high-light and fast-growing plants.
In garden plants, you can work 1/4 cup or so into the soil around the plant; for liquid feeding, I think a tablespoon (15g) per gallon/4 liter is average. I'm
pretty sure you can add the epsom salt to your regular fertilizer mixture - you don't have to use it alone.You can use both as a root and foliage feeder.

Additionally, you can add it to your bath water for muscle aches, but it can harm metal plumbing, so be sure to flush the drain with clean water afterwards.
I do not believe it will help me to tolerate more sun..."

It is not easy to comment without seing the actual plant. Writing on why orchids don't bloom in general is easier than why Renantheras don't spike. This topic is quite a challenge for me. However I have determined to provide my share of cultural practice here. I am now gathering some pointers for easy reference. If I can get it ready, I shall post it in my next session.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Orchid Grower Safety

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Orchids Care - Fertilizing, Fungicide Application And Watering

After securing the Renanthera cutting to the wooden post and embedding it into a big clay pot 2/3 filled with broken charcoal and bricks it was then placed at a less sunny location of my garden. The next thing is taking care of the plant. I usually use Gaviota 63 (with higher N of the NPK component)for growth and Gaviota 67 (higher P) for flowering on matured plant. I spray and drench the plant with Gaviota 63 twice weekly. In between the fertilizing I alternate it with fungicide (Thiram or Captan) and insecticide (Malathion or Rogor).Every week I ensure my plant get 2 doses of fertilizer and one dose each of insecticide and fungicide treatment. Strength of solution is as per manufacturer specification on the label. Care should be taken as not to exceed the manufacturer specification since higher concentration may burn tender root tips. This may to a certain extend slow the growth of the plant. Watering is usually twice per day, morning and evening.

Cultural care for Cattleya, Cymbidium, Dendrobium, Phaphiopedilum and Phaleanopsis can be obtained at http://www.aos.org/aos/orchids/page01.aspx

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Orchids- Renanthera Planting Part 2

Assuming that I manage to obtain a top cutting of my fancy about 1 foot in length I would gather all the other planting materials like broken charcoal, bricks, a big and stable clay pot and a 2 1/2 ft. length 2" X 2" width of wooden post. The wood pillar goes inside the center of pot first, then followed by broken bricks about 1/3 of the pot for stability . Tie the plant to the wooden post and fill another 1/3 with charcoal. Spray the newly potted plant with Gaviota 63 and some fungicide like Captan or Thiram. Leave the plant in a cool shaddy location of the garden untill new roots begin to emerge. Gradually I would move the plant to a sunnier location as the number of new roots increase in numbers. This take about 3 weeks to about a month. Since my resident is in the tropic, I just treat the newly planted cutting like any other established plant in term of the fertilizing and watering schedule.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Orchid Care- Renanthera Planting My Way

The other day one of my orchid lover friend visited my new blog. Blogging is new to me, but orchid planting has been quite sometime. He told me if he were a newbie to orchid, he would like to have some easy and practical pointers to the culture. If he is an experience orchidist he would be more interested to know about my style of how I select and bring it up into beautiful bloom. What have been written in books and magazines are mostly standard cultural procedures, but there are some variation in ways according to individual experiences and inclination. Well I think I have to oblige to this request.

Normally I would like to choose either offshot (keikis) or top cut from proven existing plant. This is my personal preference, other may differs. This may be expensive but worth every cents in the long term. This is because to bring up a young plant regardless of quality or inferior clone requires the same amount of effort, time, money, space and loving care. A proven offshoot may cost more than 10 times compared to an unproven seedling from a new hybrid but the end result brings more pleasure and satisfaction.

The ideal is to have a top cut or division from a proven show plant. This may be a bit expensive, but another way is to exchange with another enthusiast plant of similar quality. But as a hobbyist who take pride in his or her collection, some would like to keep a show stopper variety in the collection and win award after award from the particular unique specimen which is the subject of envy from others.