Tuesday, 25 March 2014

As nature intended

Living in the UK, I can only envy those orchidmaniacs in warmer climes. But perhaps there is a way to recreate an orchid growing in the wild ...

Some devoted fans love to grow their orchids mounted to pieces of tree. Apparently, recreating the rainforest culture is not as challenging as it sounds. Could one try this in a northerly country. 

According to an orchid expert, Arthur Chadwick, all you need is cork, fishing line, sphagnum moss and some un-potted orchid plants.

Most orchids are epiphytes and live their entire life attached to trees. Constant clouds release their water. Root tips grow and wrap around tree bark and nutrients are obtained from decaying jungle vegetation.

 • Find a mount: traditionally, cork slab is best, or try tree fern chunks, wood-slatted baskets or a tree branch. Secure in place with wire, screwing in hooks if necessary.

• Choose the orchid: Cattleyas, Dendrobiums, Oncidiums and Phalaenopsis are the best. Remove the plant from the pot and brush off the old potting material.

• Attach the plant: place some moist sphagnum moss between the roots and the mount. Wrap the plant with fishing line, plastic plant ties or small pieces of nylon tights, apparently.

• Hang: preferably near a window, or even a curtain rod. Consider a bathroom, even.

• Think about watering: Do this more often than potted orchids, usually every day with a sprayer bottle or stick it in the sink under a tap. It must get very wet.

With luck, new roots will emerge in a few months and become attached to the mount. The plant is then secure and eventually you can remove the fishing line. Roots visible, and even sprouting pseudo-bulbs should be seen clearly.

Thanks, Arthur. I’m hooked.

Arthur Chadwick is president of Chadwick & Son Orchids Inc

Even in Victorian times, orchids were under threat. READ THE BOOK! The Lost Orchid is a Gothic-inspired tale of intrigue set in 1880s, when orchidelirium was raging ... Out on 4 April from BluewoodPublishing.com

Caption: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cooktown_Orchid.jp