Monday, December 30, 2013

Growing Orchids on Potted Plants

Reply to: Orchid Seeds Germinated On My Tree!

Nice!!! I wish I could germinate on my trees, but that would never work in Upstate NY! - cnslr81
Sure it could work! Just bring the trees inside for the winter! In other words, use potted trees. And it doesn't even have to be trees. It can be any plant with a relatively woody surface. For example...I attached orchids to my potted Crassula...

Crassula Bonsai With Orchids 3a

Here's the list...

Broughtonia sanguinea, Bulbophyllum rupicola, Bulbophyllum shepardii, Brassavola nodosa, Campylocentrum sellowii, Cleisostoma arietinum, Dendrobium compactum (x2), Dockrillia cucumerina, Dockrillia linguiforme, Dockrillia wassellii, Encyclia sp (NOID mini), Jacquiniella leucomelana, Laelia sincorana, Lanium avicula, Macroclinium manabinum, Oberonia japonica, Oncidium cebolleta, Oncidium harrisonianum, Pleurothallis minutalis, Pleurothallis teres, Psychilis krugii, Sophronitis brevipedunculata, Tolumnia bahamense, Tolumnia hawkesiana, Tolumnia sylvestris, Tolumnia urophylla (x2) and Trichoceros oñaensis.

The Crassula is mostly potted in 3/4" rocks for excellent drainage. This means that the orchids are thrilled when their roots grow down into the rocks...which now have moss growing between them. Plus, I can also just place an orchid on the rocks and it will grow. Here's what I have growing on top of the rocks...

Bulbophyllum blepharistes, Cleisostoma scolopendrifolium, Sarcochilus ceciliae, Tetramicra canaliculata, Tolumnia variegatum

Maybe I'll replace most of the succulents (Echeverias, Sedums, etc) currently growing on the rocks with miniature rupiculous Laelias.

Probably the first phorophyte candidate that comes to mind is Ficus benjamina. At least here in SoCal they seem to be ubiquitous house plants. I've grown numerous orchids on a F. benjamina that I had growing in the ground. The texture on the bark is perhaps a bit better than the texture on my it's probably more hospitable to the necessary fungus.

But if you visit your local nurseries I'm sure you'll be able to find some potted plants that could make excellent phorophytes. Maybe it's best to find a 15 gallon tree and then cut it down to size. Fruit trees are generally pretty good choices.

Watering mounted plants indoors can be a hassle though. I've never grown any orchids inside but if I did try some mounted orchids indoors then I'd probably set up a DIY drip watering system. Plenty of orchids don't need much water during winter though. When it's warm enough you could just move the phorophyte outdoors. It would be a good idea to pot the phorophyte in quite a bit of bark to provide excellent drainage.

Even with the perfect host...the orchid seeds won't germinate without the necessary fungus. And unfortunately the necessary fungus isn't visible to the naked eye. So when you select orchids for your phorophyte...choose ones that probably have the fungus. Imported orchids most likely have the fungus. For example, orchids from vendors like Ecuagenera and Floralia are good choices. Orchids from Andy's Orchids are also a good bet.

It's always a good idea to experiment with extra divisions. This way you don't have all your epiphytes on one tree. See what I did there?

don't keep all your epiphytes on one tree = don't keep all your eggs in one basket
attach two epiphytes to the same branch = kill two birds with one stone
there's more than one way to attach an epiphyte = there's more than one way to skin a cat

What are the chances that these improved expressions will catch on? How long would it take?

Will growing orchids on potted plants ever catch on? I sure hope so!

Earlier in the year I attached Mystacidium capense and Brassavola nodosa to a potted Bougainvillea. The orchids have white flowers and the Bougainvillea has reddish flowers. When they bloom it should be like a living bouquet.

Maybe one day potted orchid trees will replace Christmas trees. They actually sometimes use Christmas lights to help protect outdoor plants from the cold.

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