Growing Australian orchids – some tips

Brian Gerhard is the owner of Down Under Native Orchids (D.U.N.O) in Australia. He is the program speaker for the OSGKC’s May 16, 2010 meeting. Below are some tips Gerhard received from one of his customers who is an awarding winning orchid-grower in New Jersey.

Dendrobiums

I grow cool & Tropicools the same way & have no problems.

Both grow and bloom well with temps that are as low as 45f. Bright light is essential in the winter. The plants go outside under 50% shade in late April and come back inside in mid October.

For growing medium, I use straight seedling grade bark until the plants are ready for 4″ – 5” pots, then I switch to medium grade bark.

Any balanced fertilizer is fine 20-20-20 etc. with low urea in the nitrogen factor (less than 12 if possible). From spring through fall i fertilize approx. every 10 days at the rate of 1 1/2 tablespoons to a five-gallon bucket of water. I give very little fertilizer from November through March. Reduce but do NOT stop watering during the winter months.

Sarcochilus

Sarc. Cherie ‘Cherryi’

Most species grow well on the cool side with lower light levels. Potting material should be medium grade bark as sarcochilus have fat roots like phalaenopsis and do not like their roots contained.

I fertilize the same as the dendrobiums and this system works well for me.

The sarcochilus go outside and come in the same way as the dendrobiums. I do, however, provide more shade for the sarcochilus. In the hottest part of summer, the sarcochilus sulk and quit growing. At this time they require humidity to be kept up. I provide this by wetting down the growing area; under bench watering is ideal.

Sarcochilus ceciliae, if potted, should never have the roots covered with potting material but should be allowed to have the roots wander. They are intolerant of  having their roots covered at potting time and will die if you water them through the winter period. Basically October through to April, do not water the plant, under bench is OK but not the plants.

Cymbidiums

The growing mix is important for good growing. A mix that will hold water a little but not go heavy and soggy is required. I use 60% seedling bark with about 20% chunky German peat moss (if you can find it) and make up the balance with large grade perlite, charcoal and a little Pro Mix.

Cymbidiums are heavy feeders and should be fed as soon as new growths are seen.

Put the plants outside as soon as possible without frost damage. Standards should be given full sun as soon as they are acclimatized. Most minis will need some shade in the hottest time of day.

Feed and water heavily from April through October then reduce the watering to once a week and feed little during winter.

Remember do not feed your Aussie Natives the High nitrogenous fertilizers that you would use on your cymbidiums.

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