By Lorraine at 2010-02-27 21:23
irst of all,..I’m not an expert but I have had success growing, blooming and murdering orchids since I moved to South Florida 5 years ago, (some have committed suicide on their own—or so I would like to think).
When someone says “I don’t have to do anything to grow orchids here” they might be lucky or they are lying. With the availability of orchids in our large garden centers, some people have been known to buy an orchid, keep it until it stops blooming and then (gasp) toss it out and buy a new one. Where’s the challenge doing that?
I live in an area with long hot, humid, wet summers and dryer pleasant winters (except for this year..Brrr) which is an almost ideal climate to grow orchids. Orchids need 4 main things to grow: air, light, food and water. Some orchids require more light, higher or lower temperatures, more food, and more or less water. The challenge is to find out what your orchid likes or needs.
I have orchids in plastic pots, clay pots, wood baskets, plastic baskets, wire baskets. Growing on wire, cork, driftwood of all different sizes, coconuts cut into half, and tree fern of various sizes and shapes. They are hanging in a tree that was specifically chosen for that purpose, on shepherd hooks, and on tiered plant stands. One is living in the seat of an old cane chair without the caning in a round wire basket. I installed three 14 foot pieces of chair railing, of course painted to match the rest of the house and suspended it from my overhang so I can hang more orchids. A section even has an irrigation system to spray the mounted orchids every morning.
Don’t ask how many there are (I honestly don’t know) but I still have the original two I bought from a craft show in November 2004. They are still healthy and bloom each year.
What I‘ve discovered is that I seem to be able to grow orchids “mounted” easier than having them potted. Of course they need more care. Since the overhang does not allow rain on them, I had to have a better system besides dragging out the hose each morning. So with a little ingenuity and several trips to my local home improvement centers, the watering part is now under control.
OK now to the good stuff. If you want to mount your orchid you will need to decide what material will work for you. Visit a local Orchid Supply store for some suggestions and you can also find a lot of information online right here at “Orchid Board”. This is where I have learned a great deal of how to and what else to try.
I’m mounting a cattleya on driftwood for this demonstration but many other types grow very well mounted. You will need tools, wire (I like using 16ga brass), fishline or cable zip ties (they come clear, black and different colors and sizes) to secure your orchid, some sphagnum moss to give the mount a little extra moisture while your orchid is trying to get it’s roots established. If the plant wobbles at all it may never survive. Those roots are the lifeline to a good healthy plant. Clean off the old potting medium, trim off old black or mushy roots. A little old potting medium may stay on the roots. Make sure the roots are wet so they are easier to arrange being careful not to break any. Look at the orchid you are mounting and figure which way you want it to face. Some orchids grow sending new growths all around it and some are follow the leader. Make sure to allow room for the new growth to have a place to thrive. Mounted too close to the top or the bottom and you will be redoing it sooner than you think and also damaging roots.
If you use a piece of driftwood you need to drill a hole at the top so you can push a piece of wire 10ga. through. With needle nose pliers bend the back to keep secure and bend the front up and around a broom handle to make it a hook. Moisten some sphagnum moss and arrange to be between the wood and roots of the orchid. Now the tricky part.. if your orchid is a smaller type I would suggest using the fishline to wrap between the bulbs and tie off. Just tight enough to hold in place, you don’t want to cut into the roots. In about 8 months when those roots are really on the wood you can simply cut the line and gently remove. I use clear “#20 test” so you really don’t see it on the mount. If you have an orchid that offers more space between the bulbs then try the zip ties or a piece or two of wire wrapped around once making it just tight enough to hold securely, twist it in the back with the pliers. Again snug but not damaging the roots. You can still use the fishline if moss or roots need extra support. When you are finished put the name tag on it and hang in a spot with less sun than where it was living before so it can adjust for a couple weeks. You will have to water it each day since the air will dry out the moss and the roots. Fertilize weekly, weakly with 20-20-20 made up half strength and gradually move your orchid to allow it to receive just enough sunlight to keep the leaves from burning. If the leaves are turning purplish it’s too much sun. Leaves that are dark green mean you need more filtered sunlight to get your orchid to bloom. The leaves generally speaking should be a light grass green. If they start to shrivel they need more water but they need those roots to get the water to the plant. Your roots should look white when dry and green when wet. New roots look like a satin white. The white is really the plants sponge to soak up the water. Water your plant well and then again. Check for pests such as scale, aphids. mealy bugs and a few others. There are various insecticides available for treatment at your local stores and some homemade remedies found online.
My best advice is to do your homework, gain some knowledge about these wonderful and beautiful plants and jump in with the rest of us orchidholics. I never knew how many different orchids were out there until I joined my local orchid society and started spending time online and going to the orchid shows in our greater area. Good luck growing your newly mounted orchids.
Pictures of step by step may be found in my Gallery in the "Mounting Album"