Hello and greetings to all. The next meeting of the Napa Valley Orchid Society is on Friday, September 8th at 7:00PM at the Napa Senior Center on 1500 Jefferson Street in Napa. All meetings are open to the public, so bring your friends!
You are more than welcome to attend the following events as a guest. Car-pooling is recommended and ask your friends at the next meeting if there is shared interest in attending. For more information, click the Society's name to visit their web site.
- September 2017: Robert Pemberton – Biotic resource needs of orchid pollinators
- October 2017: Marni Turkel – Topic TBD
- November 2017: Jeff Tyler – Orchid foliage and more
- December 2017: Holiday Party
- January 2018: TBD
- February 2018: Ken Jacobsen - Orchid Travels in Peru
- May 2018: Brandon Tam - Orchids at Huntington Gardens
- June 2018: Dean Hung - The Orchid Hunters
- October 10th: Cindy Hill
- September 14th: DVOS Meeting Bruce Rogers on Sobralias. He is the author of 'The Orchid Whisperer'
- October 7th: DVOS Annual Show & Sale, First Lutheran Church, 4000 Concord Blvd. Concord, CA 94519
- October 12th: DVOS Meeting - Linda Castleton & Diana Vavrek: Orchids 101
- November 9th - Dennis Olivas on Vandas
They return on 15 September 2017 after their summer hiatus.
The Potting Bench
We put orchids in pots not for the benefit of the orchid, but for our benefit in taking care of the orchid (paraphrased from Tom Pickford).
There is no written account of a 17th through 19th century orchid hunter exploring the unspoiled rain forest, returning to the sponsors of his expedition, and revealing a wide variety of orchids he found in nature because they were discovered in pots among the trees, along with labels identifying them. The Cattleya, unknowingly was used as packing material for crates that be transported on ships from the New World to England. Upon unpacking of these crates, workers realized what might have looked like dead plants, actually showed new growth.
This month's Potting Bench is focused on mounting of orchids, and just about any orchid can be mounted. It goes without saying, and perhaps a warning, mounted orchids have advantages and disadvantages.
I can only be general due to limited space, but will provide specific information and additional links regarding mounting of orchids. So ready? Set? Lets get Mounted....
Orchids can be separated into large groups, according to their ecological characteristics into epiphytes (actually this is the largest group), which grow on other plants – trees, shrubs and even cacti (as Zelencoa onusta orchid does) such as Cattleyas, Vandas, Phalaenopsis, many Oncidiums, and others; lithophytes, which grow on rocks and stones such as Bifrenaria orchids, some Laelia orchids, terrestrials, which grow in soil such as Jewel Orchids, Pleione, Calanthe and others, and there also so called aqueous orchids (actually swamp orchids) such as Spiranthe, which can grow even submerged underwater in aquaria! There is also one very interesting group of orchids – myco-heteotrophs, which lack photosynthetic pigment and actually parasites on microscopic fungi, but there is no growing technique for them, so they are impossible to grow in artificial culture. But all other groups require different growing techniques. (Source)
The other (and the most suitable for most epiphytic orchids) growing technique is mounting. Mounting orchids on slabs just mimics their natural way of growing. The roots stay open, well aerated and clearly visible, so it is nearly impossible to overwater a mounted orchid, especially if you choose proper orchid mounting media. You can use either wooden slab, bark or cork, treefern, and there are ceramic slabs with or without reservoirs for water to evaporate and cool the slab with orchid, there are also epiweb slabs. Some species require a moss interlayer between slab and orchid roots, some don’t. Another advantage of orchid mounting is doubtless decorative qualities of mounted orchids. They are growing in their natural way and you can see the beauty of rainforests indoors. But the disadvantage is that they require more air humidity, and that mounting is not very well suited for large and giant orchids (for obvious reasons), mounting is the best way to care for orchids which are epiphytic and medium to miniature sized. (Source)
So you find yourself one day admiring one of your many favourite potted orchids and notice that it is becoming too big for it's pot. Congrats on this achievement - even better if it has rewarded you every year with outstanding blooms that are the reason you fell in love with that orchid. However, you are still bothered that it might be due for a repotting. Upon repotting of that orchid, consider any pieces that unintentionally broke off from the main plant as a candidate for mounting. Before getting excited, you need to confirm that the broken growth can sustain itself and shows signs that it could produce new growth. This is not simple to explain, but feel free to leave this broken portion in a bare-root status. Bring it to the next meeting and ask experienced orchid growers if it is worth investing the time for potting or mounting. It's a complex situation to resolve and sadly too complex to go into full detail here without creating confusion, so bring it for second opinions at the next meeting. While it is in a bare-root status, treat it as you have always done. Perhaps pack loosely some moss around the roots to keep them moist, but not constantly drenched in water.
First thing you need to do is "know thy orchid" - where it comes from and I don't mean the nursery or vendor that you acquired it - but they be a good resource to answer questions about it, and also perhaps if it is worth mounting as well. When I say "Know thy Orchid", research it's name and focus on where it is found naturally. Species are easy to research, hybrids, require a little more time in investigating until you have identified the parents.
Internet Orchid Species Photo Encyclopedia
"The genealogy web site for hybrid orchids". Once you have identified the parents, you can look them up on the Internet Orchid Species Photo Encyclopedia link above.
For example, lets say you have a Myrmecophyla tibicinis, and because it is a species ("tibicinis" is in all lowercase letters, you have consulted the Internet Orchid Species Photo Encyclopedia and have a basic background on this particular orchid. Just googling "Myrmecophyla tibicinis", you explored pictures and were amazed at the dozens of images of this orchid "in the wild" and realized it be the perfect candidate for mounting. At the bottom of the newsletter I show a before and after picture of this attempt at mounting.
Coelogyne Unchained Melody, a hybrid because "Unchained Melody" is Capitalized". On Bluenanta, I learned it is a man-made cross of (Coel. cristata × Coel. flaccida), two species. Reading the basic background of these two species, and contributing to the final decision the conditions of where I live, and what I can, or cannot provide to facilitate it's natural environment, I have determined this is not a good candidate for mounting at this time.
The first major test question regarding mounting any orchid is can the area that you intend to display the mount, maintain a humidity of at least 60-percent all the time? In South Florida, yes, in Sacramento - sorry. If you have a greenhouse, then it be easy to maintain this minimum humidity requirement. However don't surrender. If your bathroom gets lots of natural light from a window - and the mount be small, consider the mount kept in the bathroom. One of the videos I will share a link to below features Astrid's growing station, a laundry rack from Ikea or CostCo, in a typical room that seems well lit, and her orchids seem to be doing good enough mounted that she shares videos about them. Light, Humidity and moving air, in the right conditions will allow orchids to thrive.
But you have discovered one or more orchids among your collection that be worthy of mounting. If you think that is the hard part, let me warn you, now starts the real hard part. However, if you are like me and still hesitant to take the next step, you are not alone.
Talk to experienced orchid growing friends and get their advice. There are a number of experienced / advanced growing in the NVOS, and they be happy and willing to talk orchids with you. It is exactly how they learned (along with trial and error) about growing orchids.
Twice a year, the Sonoma County Orchid Society offers a greenhouse tour. Don't make the mistake that these are just "buying sprees", but rather realize they are learning opportunities! Open Green House tours are the best way to see how others grow their orchids - even mounted orchids. Don't be afraid to ask a greenhouse owner if you can take pictures. I would recommend video myself. If you spotted an orchid you admire, ask if they pose it for you, spin it around slowly while you video record the orchid from all sides. Video is recommended because you are essentially taking hundreds of thousands of "pictures", and at home you can watch the video, freeze it, and with the right software can create a single image. (Shameless plug -> the SCOS will offer a fall greenhouse tour. For about $40.00 you get to tour 4 or 5 greenhouses via a chartered tour bus. Don't pass on this opportunity! More details will be made available as soon as I am aware of them.)As you wander through these greenhouse, along with admiring the orchids, pay attention to how things are growing in the greenhouse, like mounted orchids.
Another way to experiment with mounted orchids, is to purchase one. Take the time to shop any vendor that has mounted orchids, and talk to them about what you are looking for, and the growing conditions of the area you plan on placing that orchid. Orchid vendors are friendly, knowledgeable, and want to match you with the best possible orchids per your growing environment and skill level. The closest orchid vendor that has experience with mounted orchids and typically has some on hand available for sale is Debra from Napa Valley Orchids.
The Process of Mounting Orchids
The mount. This can be anything. Tom Pickford has proven this by mounting a L. ancep to an old broken down shoe. I have visited a number of second-hand stores and plan on mounting the same to a variety of old handball and tennis rackets. Untreated cedar shakes (not treated with any inflammable material) work very well. Use your imagination. The most important aspect of mounting an orchid is that it is tight, fit and snug when attached to the mount. They do not like to wiggle. Also, think big, but not too big. If you mount a larger orchid that grows fast to an undersized mount, you might end up securing that mount to a even larger mount in the near future. So chose a mount that the orchid can grow into to with no need to rework it for the next 5 years. (Makes enjoying it that much better.)
If you find yourself or neighbours trimming trees, I am going to go on a limb about this idea (pardon the pun) - but preserve cut branches with a thick diameter and almost 2 feet in length. These could become mounts for your orchids. Obviously hardwood such as Oak and perhaps Walnut be preferred over softwoods (Pine and fruit trees).
Grapevine old growth ("trunks") have been spotted for sale by a orchid supply vendor. The grapevine has been sandblasted to remove the bark, which might explain the cost of the final product being somewhat ridiculous. There are other ways to remove the bark, like soaking in a garbage can and if pieces are small, can be boiled in an old pot. The bark can be stripped away by hand and perhaps a simple chisel or file. Don't be concerned with defacing the surface under the bark, the point is that orchids will cover it from view. Add some imagination to this. You could assemble what look like a 6-point buck's antlers and in various places attach miniature or jewel orchids. You could either hang this ornament, or attach it to a base using "Y" branches of the grapevine. Lots of room to be creative....Just need a winery source for the raw product.
Next time you are at a actual pet store, spend some time in the reptile area. Sphagnum moss, cork and interesting driftwood or grapevine "reptilestals" (pedestals for reptiles to climb on in heir reptilarium of course...) can be purchased, if they are of the right wood. I discuss this a little more in detail below.
Whatever you chose to mount an orchid to, keep in mind it must be durable and not decay in a year from being watered frequently, then drying, then watered.... you get the idea. I read on the Internet (so it must be true) that some are using "mats" of shredded tires (diced and cubed pieces that are heat fused to form the mat). My first instinct is to avoid this as tires are a petroleum based product and over time they leech chemicals that you and most likely your orchids not find appealing.
As for fastening the orchid to the mount, some use fishing line, I use a very narrow gauge wire. Fishing line can break, but a wire can dig into the plant killing growths. Twisty tie on a spool, can also break over time, but offers some protection from cutting and digging into the orchid's growth.
Drill and drill bits
Old scraps of shade-cloth (optional). I would consider using this to hold into place a small amount of moss that is worked around the roots. In the produce section of grocery stores, you will notice onions and potatos sometime come in a mesh bag, they can be used in place of shade cloth scraps. Both will decay over time, but when they do, they are no longer needed as the orchid has taken to the mount and thriving. If you chose to use the extra thick superglue method, this might not be necessary. To understand this, you will have to watch the videos.
A friend - trust me, this is more important than the orchid you are mounting and the mount itself. That friend can help hold the orchid and the mount as you secure them to each other. Doing this on your own for the first time will be extremely frustrating and perhaps damage the orchid. Work with a friend who plans to mount orchids so you can swap extra hands for each other. If you do not have any friends, again the superglue method be an option, however, what better way to get to know your friend then helping eachother mount orchids - with or without the superglue.
With mounting item in hand, use it to help visualize the final result. This would include making notes of drill holes for attaching wire to hang the completed mount. I would go so far as to recommend attaching the wire hanging components to the mount and let the empty mount hang in the intended area to test for light, wind, and even spray from any automated watering system. Adjust as necessary. Carpenters claim it is better to measure twice and cut only once. If using a untreated cedar shaker, mark with pencil the area where the bulk of the orchid be attached to the shaker. Add extra drill holes, some be for tying the orchid to the shaker, but as you drill random holes lower, this allow roots to pass through and help in securing the orchid to the shaker mount. Big holes might even allow for growth on both sides of the mount to develop.
Don't try to mount a dozen orchids on your first attempt, but limit yourself to 3 and see what happens.
If you think I am going to try and describe the actual process of mounting orchids, I hate to disappoint you. Why bother using words when Youtube is full of videos that detail this process. The only way better to learn about mounting orchids is watching Tom Pickford demonstrating. However, an advantage of the following collection of videos is that you can watch them more than once.
MOUNTING ORCHIDS with KRAZYGLUE: HOW TO MOUNT AN ORCHID WITH OUT USING WIRE, FISHING LINE OR STRING
One of the interesting ideas I have seen about mounting orchids, specifically an orchid that prefers it's roots stay moist, but not drenched, is his creative "diaper". He uses plastic (needs further investigation) to create a trap attached to the bottom of the mount, with moss, that is a whick to the moss surrounding the orchid's roots on the mount. Clever!! Also, notice his inverted clay pot as a mount, and use of moss to keep the pot cool (evaporation) and additional moisture for a orchid that never rooted for him before - impressive ideas. I have to guess that he has the pot in a saucer for a water source.
THE FUNNY WAYS I GROW ORCHIDS: THE MOUNTS, THE POTS AND BAGS
DIY - Orchid Mounting on Wood Without Wire (Phalaenopsis - Moth Orchid)
The following videos is a series made by Astrid. At first it gwas hard to listen to her, but the more I watched, the more interested I was in watching what she was doing (with orchids of course...)
How to mount orchids
A brief summary of the video:
Orchids that can not be mounted: cypripediums
Orchids that thrive mounted:
phaleanopsis, cattleyas, bulbophylums, neo fenoitia vanetia, dendrobiums, brassivola, oncydium, encylcia, etc...
dry out quickly
too much (wet) moss, fungus gnats (there are methods for controlling, eliminating these pests)
Sticky Traps – Controls adults very effectively
Make your own sticky trap by smearing Vaseline or Tanglefoot on a 4″x6″ piece of bright yellow cardstock, and place the card horizontally just above the surface of your potting media, where it will catch the adults as they leap from the soil. Set another trap vertically to catch incoming gnats, whiteflies, thrips, and more.
I can't remember where I read or heard this before, but it is suggested that unless your growing area can maintain a humidity of at least 60-percent, mounting might not be a viable alternative. Here in Sacrmento, this cannot be achieved in outdoor growing unless in a greenhouse environment - however, rules are meant to be broken. I am looking at one of those portable "seed starter" greenhouse shelves that is enclosed in a plastic cover. Add some extra holes for ventilation, add some additional framework, and I might be able to create a space that maintains this minimum humidity requirement for sustaining orchids and trigger some of my current mounted orchids to actually bloom.
Pros: (of mounting orchids)
can never over-water (guilty!)
grow this way naturally
Astrid suggested full service pet stores (reptile area) as a place for both cork slabs and sphagnum moss (did not know), and the benefit of their cork slabs is that they are typically already sterilized. The green moss is preferred because it comes in longer strands than the darker, light brown moss.
Her demonstration of mounting an oncydium is very useful, like in identifying the oldest bulb (to be attached to the mount) and new growth that should not be attached to the mount surface. Pop Quiz!! Why would you mount an oncydium upside-down? She explains why.... watch for the answer. Notice in her method, since she is by herself, how she handles the orchid mount as she is securing the orchid to the mount. I never would have thought of that.... However I think the "buddy system" is still the best idea.
How to water mounted orchids
How to mount a large orchid - Encyclia cochleata (Prosthechea cochleata)
I could list hours more of videos, but why spoil your fun? Pay attention to youtube, it will recommend similar videos of the same topic to you, so you can watch video after video after video. One advantage of videos is you can stop and rewind instantly. I usually start a video, pause it, then read the comments from other viewers below it. Never know what interesting things you discover. After getting bored of comments I will sit back and watch the video in its entirety.
Keep in mind your newly mounted orchid requires extra attention. A more humid environment, and more waterings per week. As you have already tested the empty mount in the desired space, you know if it will be exposed to more direct sun, which could also be bad. You did remember to test hang the mount and perhaps remember any differences between the solstaces - right? If you know that direct sunlight is not a problem but lots of indirect light is available, your orchid should be happy, and by the next growing season it like its new home. Mounted orchids are great for displaying the orchids, and again, with imagination, you can construct a "wire wall" using chicken wire and hang a bunch of mounts in one area.
ORCHIDS MARCH 2005 WWW.AOS.ORG
“SUPPORT ME,” SHOUT THE orchids. “I’ll grow so well with the right support.” Sometimes our plants may sound like demanding teenagers, yet pro-viding a lifetime support is reasonable for epiphytic orchids. In the wild, many of our most attractive orchids thrive on tree branches, in clumps of sturdy shrubs, on rocks covered with moss or in a tree crotch filled with humus. In captivity, supports for orchids resemble natural arrange-ments in the wild........
Myrmecophyla tibicinis - My First Attempt at Mounting
When Richard Lindberg made the decision to focus on his most favorite orchid, his wife, a number of items were donated to the NVOS Opportunity Table, and I took this item home not really knowing what I acquired. Mr. Lindberg received it as a backbulb from another grower and the first image shows what it looked like in 2014. It was mounted on cork and secured in the basket.
Eventually, I flipped the basket, then secured the cork mount on it's bottom. I then places the inverted basket in a bigger basket with some scrap cork to angle it more towards the sun when hanging.
It did surprisingly well, enjoying as much full direct sun as possible and watered twice a day by actually giving it some time in the shower. But unlike other orchids, it kept growing. Sometimes in spring and summer it develop 2 or 3 new growths and kept growing.
The latest new growth, was in danger of working its way through the basket. This may not have been a problem, but I decided it was time to remount it.
Below is the most current image and I simply used a very thin gauge wire to attach the original cork slab to a new wider cork slab. It took more than one attempt, but I find the current mount "acceptable" and rather not disturb it any more than necessary. This type of orchid does not like it's roots distrubed and doing so will cause it to delay new growth. Looking at it now, I in time will mount the current mount on an even wider slab of cork bark, but I suspect I have time to do this, perhaps a year or two?
Below is the same orchid growing on a palm tree in Florida. Full sun all day except during the mid day hour. What makes this orchid unusual is that the actual cane (inflorences) can reach a length of yards or meters above the main plant topped off with a cluster of blooms. Below you can see two spikes to the right of the palm tree.
I wait patiently to see mine bloom....
A piece (2 bulbs, old growth) broke off while I was working on it. It is old growth, and I do not see any obvious sign of eyes at the base of the bulbs. The roots are not exactly firm to the touch so I have very little hope of it developing a new growth - but if it does, someone will be a lucky recipient.
You can read more about this orchid here.
Yesterday, I did not know this, today I do....
Cymbidium madidum in habitat growing in the rainforests and the mangrove forests in trees. I never would have thought of mounting a cymbidium, but perhaps a miniature in a creative basket, attached to a cork bark, be perfect? Interesting......
SELECT, GENERAL FLOWERING CALENDAR
|BASIC FLOWERING PERIOD|
It is important to note that the data in the above table has not been absolutely proven. Keep in mind that orchids themself, determine when they bloom, and this is dependent upon environmental factors. The biggest factor is indoor versus greenhouse growing. To best determine the flowering season, one must research the orchid of interest.