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  #1  
Old 05-01-2017, 05:49 PM
SG in CR SG in CR is offline
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Growing orchids mounted on live trees. Male
Default Growing orchids mounted on live trees.

I've been living here in Costa Rica for several years now and when I got here I was excited to be able to grow plants that were strictly houseplants back in Michigan outdoors. So I got some orchids from a nursery and mounted them on a rambutan tree behind the house. It seemed like it had just the right amount of shade, enough to keep them from frying in the sun in the dry season and not so much that they wouldn't get enough sun.
I got what looked like a couple hybrid dendrobiums, a spider orchid and a couple phals. I proceeded to tie large chucks of coconut husk to the branches and then mounting the orchids to that. I figured the coconut husk would help hold water and give the orchids something to grow their roots into.
Well, it didn't work so well and after a few years of remounting and coddling them, I think I've found some things out that I wish I had known back then. So maybe I can save other people from making the same mistakes.
1. Mounted orchids like to be firmly bound to a solid substrate. Mounting the orchids to the coconut husk worked out OK for a while but as it started to decompose the orchids started to do worse. I found that tying them directly to the branch tight enough so that the wind can't shift them around on it made a big difference. It didn't take long before they anchored themselves down solidly with new roots that clung to the bark like they were glued on. If it's an orchid that I think needs more moisture, then I tie some live moss on top of the roots so that they hold the moisture there. Eventually the moss will start growing and look more natural.
2. Don't let liquid fertilizer dry on the leaves. At first I was using an orchid fertilizer I brought back from the States and I would just spray the plants with it diluted to what the instructions said. The orchids didn't like this. Leaves and roots started to yellow and dry. I found that going back with a sprayer full of clean water before the fertilizer dried and spraying off the foliage made a big difference. I'm not sure how much the plants can absorb in 15-20 mins before I washed it off again, but they seemed to grow and bloom just fine.
I switched to a new method of fertilizing them now though. While visiting the Lancaster Gardens orchid house I noticed they were using slow release fertilizer pellets inside small mesh bags to fertilize the orchids. I started doing the same after I brought some Osmocote slow-release fertilizer back from the States and it seems to work great. Especially for my Gongora, they grew 3-4 new pbulbs from each of the previous year's.
3. Let your orchids go to seed if they get pollinated. I had a Brassia that was doing really well at first. And I kept trimming off the flowers if I seen they had gotten pollinated, figuring I would rather the plant spend it's energy growing and flowering. And so it did. It kept flowering till it was so spent that it died. Later talking to someone who had more experience than I, he told me that some orchids once they get pollinated are so determined to go to seed they'll kill themselves in the process of trying if never get to finish maturing the pod. Since then I've always allowed one pod per flower stem to mature if they get pollinated and the orchids still bloom every year. In fact two of my Gongora bloomed a couple months ago and are developing seed pods and now they going for a second run with new flower shoots coming out.
In any case, these are things that work for me growing mostly native orchids outdoors. I'm sure more experienced growers can correct me if I am making any false assumptions or giving bad advice.

Last edited by SG in CR; 05-01-2017 at 05:54 PM..
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  #2  
Old 05-02-2017, 03:17 PM
bil bil is offline
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Growing orchids mounted on live trees.
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2. Don't let liquid fertilizer dry on the leaves.

Yeah, that's why I use a very weak fertiliser solution at every watering. About 25ppm Nitrogen. That way it can dry without a problem.
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  #3  
Old 05-02-2017, 04:17 PM
epiphyte78 epiphyte78 is offline
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Growing orchids mounted on live trees. Male
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Around 30 years ago I was pretty clueless about how to grow orchids on trees. It took me way too long to figure out that the orchids had to be tightly attached to the trees. After I finally figured it out I discovered that this information had been shared in various orchid publications that I hadn't known about. For example... here's what it says in this orchid article that was published in 1987...

Quote:
Take care to fasten the plant securely so the base of the plant is held firmly to its mount. If the base wobbles, the roots will not attach.
In 2009 I digitized the article and voila! Now you can read it.

The internet sure makes it a lot easier to find relevant information but clearly there's still a lot of room for improvement.

Here on forums we see the same information being asked for and shared over and over. It's easier to ask a question than to dig through a gazillion threads to find all the answers to the same exact question. On the supply side of things, the people who answer the same questions over and over have a pretty high burnout rate.

Right now the internet is great for sharing information... but it's really terrible at organizing it.
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  #4  
Old 05-02-2017, 09:03 PM
SG in CR SG in CR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by epiphyte78 View Post
Around 30 years ago I was pretty clueless about how to grow orchids on trees. It took me way too long to figure out that the orchids had to be tightly attached to the trees. After I finally figured it out I discovered that this information had been shared in various orchid publications that I hadn't known about. For example... here's what it says in this orchid article that was published in 1987...



In 2009 I digitized the article and voila! Now you can read it.

The internet sure makes it a lot easier to find relevant information but clearly there's still a lot of room for improvement.

Here on forums we see the same information being asked for and shared over and over. It's easier to ask a question than to dig through a gazillion threads to find all the answers to the same exact question. On the supply side of things, the people who answer the same questions over and over have a pretty high burnout rate.

Right now the internet is great for sharing information... but it's really terrible at organizing it.
Yeah, if you look hard enough you can find nearly any info you want on the net. But it can take a while. I've found getting the IDs on some wild orchids difficult and that's where forum like this can come in handy. With any luck someone who can ID it will save you a few hours of searching.
I figure I'll make some posts about my observations about specific orchids as I have time. Then people can correct/suppliment what I've written. Who know's might be someone out there who can use the info.
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Old 05-02-2017, 09:19 PM
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orchidsarefun orchidsarefun is offline
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I think the binding rule applies to plaque mounts as well. I have a catt. jongheana that attached to a piece of cork but when outdoors the wind detached a root. Within a week all the roots detached and will not re-attach even though it's been indoors for 8 months.

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Old 05-07-2017, 11:57 AM
SG in CR SG in CR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by orchidsarefun View Post
I think the binding rule applies to plaque mounts as well. I have a catt. jongheana that attached to a piece of cork but when outdoors the wind detached a root. Within a week all the roots detached and will not re-attach even though it's been indoors for 8 months.

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You probably will need to wait till the new growth cycle. I have a few Galeandra that are really finicky about that. If you tie them down as they are getting new growth they seem to root down fairly well. But the rest of the year they don't even try.
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Old 06-15-2017, 10:22 PM
nogreenthumbs nogreenthumbs is offline
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My mother lives in South Florida in a zone that usually doesn't get very cold, but can be hot. she also lives right on a man-made pond. She straps orchids to the tree behind her house that's practically hanging over the pond. That's it. No fertilizer, no watering, nothing, just strapped to a tree. Mother Nature does the rest. They grow and bloom really nicely. Earlier this year, part of the tree broke off in a storm. The orchids were pulled off of the broken bit and strapped to the bit that remains. They are blooming again.

I'm so jealous.
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