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I have no experience of using humidifiers but I successfully cultivate a variety of cool-growing orchids in an unheated greenhouse during the summer (May to Oct) then into the house for the winter. Genera grown include Masdevallia, Pleione, Laelia, Dracula, Coeologyne, Dendrochileum, Dendrobium and Pholidota. In summer the typical day greenhouse humidity ranges from 40-70% and at nights almost always 95%. Damping down during hot weather lifts the day humidity by about 10%. The orchids do fine over the winter in the house with humidity approximating 40-50% If you are heating your greenhouse then a humidifier might be useful but it goes without saying that air circulation must accompany high humidity otherwise fungal leaf spotting will appear. The YouTube channel “Micks Masdevallias” is run by an English gent who uses a humidifier (hydrofoggers) all year so you might be able squint and see the manufacturer! Sorry, I can’t be more help and I may be wrong but I can’t think of anyone in the society who has discussed humidifiers.
Can anyone reading this provide David with a recommendation?
That is a new plantlet called a keiki and is commonly found in Dendrobiums. I would not remove it from the mother plant as it is too small to survive independently and there is insufficient growing season for it to develop further. Better to let it drain the last bit of nutrition from the mother over the autumn/winter and then pot it up separately next spring (April earliest). You could I suppose periodically spray the roots or even wrap a little moss around the roots to help it through the winter.
Firstly, good for you for not resorting to stealing plants from the wild!(in any case it is very likely they would die after transplantation). Unfortunately to my knowledge there are no nurseries in Ireland that offer native orchids for sale not least because they are challenging to grow without careful attention to their cultivation needs. However several Irish Orchid Society members do grow hardy orchids including easier native genera especially Dactylorhiza and who may be able to provide splits. Anyhow Anthony do attend a future society meeting and enquire. Incidentally be aware that it is now very difficult to obtain any type of orchid from the UK as CITES regulations apply post-Brexit. You could however try the Belgian nursery http://www.phytesia-orchids.com for hardy orchid species. I would strongly advise not to purchase a lot of expensive plants until you gain experience.
Major credit to Lisa for the vibrant new look. I shall try to contribute to future editions!
I am sorry you are having problems. Unfortunately the quality of orchid bark is variable and it is seldom sterile. For that reason I solely use coarse-grade coconut/coir for Cattleyas and Phals. Repotting is stressful to orchids and sometimes they quickly succumb to bacteria/fungi in the new growing media even if the media looks clean and fresh. If you can break up a piece of the bark between your fingers it is probably decaying. Pouring boiling water over the bark would not be enough to kill spores. You are absolutely right to try and remove all the old moss from around the roots. Moss rots after about a year and needs to be changed. New Zealand Sphagnum moss is best but it is expensive and hard to obtain even online. Cattleyas ideally should only be grown in coarse bark/coir with little or no moss as they must have excellent drainage and air around the roots.
Also it is quite natural to find dead roots when repotting orchids especially Cattleyas providing they are attached to old bulbs. New shoots should have healthy the new roots. Always remove all dead roots at repotting. Personally I feel your orchid media must also be be too wet which has encouraged the mold. If possible I would repot into fresh media obtained from a different source (NEVER use Westland orchid compost, it is dreadful in my experience). Very importantly make sure you do not overpot which could also be contributing to your issue. You could add polystyrene foam chunks as a space filler if you have only a large sized pot. If you have to stick with the current compost then make sure to allow drying out before rewatering the mold should not like that and provide plenty of ventilation on the summer days.
Perhaps other members can make suggestions? I have not used anti-fungicides. Best of luck and let everyone know what the long term outcome is for your plants.
A very interesting question and one really for someone who has experience with growing under your exacting conditions (which would not include me). I would however make a few comments. Firstly, do you have an alternative to a north facing window? it would not be a problem during the winter but in the summer most orchids like bright diffuse sunshine even if described as semi-shade loving. Though you may get satisfactory results if the plants are kept close to the glass to maximise the light. Secondly, your diurnal temperature range seems very narrow especially if you are living in a house. If you live in a well insulated apartment it would be more understandable. So if you haven’t already done so do confirm the range with a max min thermometer. Most orchids prefer a day/night shift of at least 8 degrees although perhaps true equatorial tropical orchids might prefer it more constant. If your temperatures are accurate you could certainly be good for “warm” growers but it would be perhaps then be ideal if there was rise to the mid-twenties during the summer days.
Glancing down your list of genera, if it were me, I would avoid Sophronitis as they are notoriously fussy cool growers demanding high humidity and bark-mounting. Cattleya/Laelias generally require copious light to make sufficient vegetative growth to push out their flower-sheaths but many people do have success growing them indoors in Ireland on a bright windowsill (check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ij86VX9t3Q). I think Encyclias, Brassias and many non-reed stem Epidendrums might do very well for you as they like warmth and are small growing. Maxillarias are quite adaptable particularly species tenufolia (coconut-scented). Stanhopeas are big basket growers so very messy for the home (believe me, I know!) and the flowers (though utterly magnificent)only last a few days each year. Phrags might do well under your conditions and are popular indoors but do require lots of high quality water and can grow big. Of course there are two obvious low-light, warmth loving small plants that would excel for you….Phalaenopsis and Paphiopedilum!
So in conclusion, I would most importantly confirm the accuracy of the temperature range you quote, it seems odd and definitely ask your question at a society meeting as other members may have more imaginative suggestions and opinions!
What an elegant specimen from a seldom mentioned genus! The most common species in cultivation is probably the cooler growing E. coronaria from the Himalayas (although I have no experience of either of them).
The stunning red Masdevallia species on sale from Burnham’s at the 2018 orchid fair to which you might be discussing is M. ignea? (ignea meaning “volcanic”). I actually bought one and it flowers twice a year. I attach a picture of it.
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I successfully grow Masdevallia species: coccinea, ignea, veitchiana and barleana (bought from Akerne’s and Burnham’s). I have found that they much prefer a pure moss (ideally New Zealand moss) growing medium kept moist all year using only rainwater with a low dose orchid feed. I gleaned this advice from the YouTube channel “Brads Greenhouse”. Also it is important to position the plants in filtered sunshine as they hate strong sun and high temperatures (anything above 25 C is risky).
It has to be said the species above that I grow are regarded as the easier ones to cultivate and many other Masdevallias are notoriously difficult and demand cool misting and high humidity as found in their high altitude cloud forest native habit. Not sure about the measuresiana owner.
Very interesting Aleks and beautiful photos,
I was at Killard Nature Reserve in County Down, Northern Ireland last week which I have visited for almost 30 years. It is a heavenly place of total silence except for Skylarks and Meadow Pipits singing and the screech of a Peregrine hunting but this year was extra special as I have never seen so many Pyramidal and Common Spotted orchids in bloom, literally thousands!
Absolutely amazing Marie!, I really think that Bee orchid needs to have more iron and vitamins in it’s diet🙂
Una! What a gorgeous photo, I’m so glad the buds didn’t blast after watering. Coincidentally, last month I bought the true D.nobile species via eBay. The plant I received was very dry and in bud on a leafless stem. I have watered it several times and the buds are swelling nicely. I will post a photo when it blooms in a few weeks!
Cymbidiums, as you know, have declined in popularity over the past 25 years particularly the bulky standard types. Even McBean’s Nursery in the UK who have been internationally renowned Cymbidium breeders for decades, no longer offer a large selection. Most Cymbidiums are currently imported from Holland for the retail trade only because small personal orders are not economic considering the high shipping costs. I think Burnham’s at the Orchid Fair remains the best option for anyone. You can even contact them in advance of their visit to discuss your specific requirements and if available they will bring the plants over for you so saving the postage (I am presuming Burnham’s are continuing to grace us at the Orchid Fair this year?).
However I have seen some nice Cymbidiums for sale periodically at Johnstown Garden Centre and even Woodies especially before Bank Holiday Weekends at Christmas, St Patricks and Easter etc.
That is exciting to see one of the most iconic orchids in flower although I doubt if any of the famous moths will migrate their way to Glasnevin!
In my opinion if the flower buds are well developed then watering would not be a risk and would probably facilitate the swelling and opening of the flower buds and release of fragrance. If it is the true D. nobile species (purple labellum blotch with pink tips on sepals), it really will have benefited from the drought period you have provided. If they are heavily fed and watered in the autumn they will produce beautiful plump green stems but will not produce many flowers. The YouTube Channel “Brads Orchids” recently discussed D. nobile flowering so you could check that out.