Orchid Cultivation Tips for the Orchid Grower
Orchids seem to grow better if a greenhouse is devoted solely to their cultivation, although some orchid types, such as Coelogyne cristata and Odontoglossum grande often succeed extremely well in a general collection of plants.
From the start, it is as best to consider the type of orchid collection you wish to cultivate. You can always add further sections of this large family to your collection. A general orchid collection under one roof, which contains many species from widely differing habitats, is likely to be the most satisfying type of orchid collection. From this type of collection, you can achieve a quite broad knowledge of the plants and their cultivation requirements. Such a collection of orchids is make possible by the often wide temperature tolerance of many orchid species. Some people may want to establish an orchid collection, devoted entirely to one genus, such as Cymbidium for example.
The ideal way of doing this is, if the orchid grower can divide a small greenhouse into two sections, one for plants requiring cool conditions, and the other for those needing warmer conditions. If an existing orchid or greenhouse is being taken over specifically for orchids, and it provides cool conditions only, it is possible to enclose a small area with heavy gauge polythene and to then install a-warming cable. This would then allow the growing of types of orchids that prefer warm conditions in the enclosure, and the types of orchids which prefer cool-growing conditions could be kept in the main body of the greenhouse.
The orchid grower should have the double type of staging in his greenhouse for orchid cultivation, with a gap of about 16cm (6in) between the upper and lower stages. You might want the upper stage to be of the open wood-slatted type which you can place your plants on, and the lower stage could then be covered with ashes or gravel. This under stage is referred to as the moisture staging and is frequently sprayed with water to maintain the humidity in the orchid house. A gravel path in the greenhouse, which can be sprayed with water, is also highly useful for this purpose. The type of orchid plant being cultivated will determine if the staging should be flat or stepped.
A wire framework placed on top of the staging, if it is shaped like a series of step-ladders, will be able to house many more orchid plants if they are then hung on the frame. Thin metal rods attached to the main beams of the greenhouse, above the path but not over the top of the stage, will provide some more space. This system is perfect for the species of orchids that prefer more light in addition to many of the smaller sized orchids.
Ventilators should preferably be situated in the roof area and under the staging. The types of ventilators used in manywhich are situated in the upright glass sides of the house, are not advisable for the orchid house. The reason for this is that the ventilators create draughts and excessive drying of the plant compost is likely to occur.
There are many greenhouse heating systems available to the orchid grower today. The old much used boiler-heated water pipes (10cm (4in) in diameter) have lots of advantages, including a considerable amount of temperature control. Many of the efficient electrical systems with thermostatic control are now more widely used, and the fan type of heater, specifically for the greenhouse, is especially suitable. Be sure to install a system that is capable of providing somewhat higher than the minimum winter temperature recommended for the specific section of the orchid family being cultivated.
Paraffin heating in the greenhouse is a controversial subject amongst many an orchid grower. Most orchid growers today, use this type of heating to provide an additional source of warmth on particularly cold winter nights, and also for emergencies such as the occasional power cut. You can add double glazing with the use of polythene on the inner side of the glass. This can drastically reduce heat loss and can actually create an increase in temperature of 5 degrees or sometimes more.
Orchid cultivation of a wide range of orchid plants can be achieved quite successfully under one roof. The reason for this is that, regardless of any attempts to produce uniform conditions within the greenhouse, some parts of it will inevitably be that much more moist, warmer or brighter, and so this, with some experimentation can be a considerable asset. It is well known that an orchid plant that is reluctant to flower or is a particularly slow grower, improved cultivation results can be had by moving the plant about the greenhouse until it responds to a different environment.
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