Orchid News – November 2010

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  • 4 Nov AGM, and Ivy Wheeler – growing Paphiopedilums
  • 7 Nov Second workshop at Gordon’s
  • 14 Nov Lunch at Ivy’s
  • 2 Dec Christmas meeting & Awards
  • 3 Feb First meeting for 2011. Murray Shergold “Out of Africa”

November Meeting

We will start with our AGM (see the agenda in this newsletter), and then have our normal general meeting.

Our guest speaker will be Ivy Wheeler who will be talking about how to grow slipper orchids.

Woolgoolga Show

Congratulations to Ivy on winning the Grand Champion prize at the Woolgoolga Show with her Indian Dendrobium – thrysiflorum x Farmeri


The society has received another copy of the orchid encyclopedia – Orchidwiz.  This generous donation from Orchidwiz is for the society to raise some money.  This is an excellent resource.

Committee has decided that this time we will have a sealed auction for the program.  The cost to buy the program from Orchidwiz is $295 (US).  This is for the latest version.  See http://www.orchidwiz.com  for more information.

If you are interested write down how much you are prepared to pay and put this in a sealed envelope and give it to Don Turner at or before the December meeting.  The winner will be announced at the meeting – good Christmas present for someone.  The minimum bid is $100.

If there is more than one person with the highest bid, the winner’s name will be drawn out by ballot.

Danny Bell’s Talk

Danny talked to us about ‘flasking’ Orchids, which I decided is not for the faint hearted or those of us who are light on patience. He informed us there are approximately 31,000 varieties of Orchids with several different types of pollinating. Two main areas being

  • Line-breeding –  crossing a species with itself
  • Hybridising – crossing different species or hybrids

Seeds are like talcum powder – casing (Testa) is like a basket weave.  In nature the pod opens and spreads seeds far and wide but unless the medium it lands in is a fungus with just the right amount of sugar etc it will not grow.  Chemists have made up a fungus medium to help grow from seeds.  You can make your own as well, comprising of agar, mineral salts and other materials.
The flasks the seeds are placed in must be sterilised and pressurised.  A pressure cooker can be used to do this.
In a flask

  • Green seed pods will take approximately two months to germinate
  • Dry seed pods take 5 to 6 days to germinate
  • May take 3 to 15 years to flower, depending on the variety.

Fungal Contamination is a problem and sterile flasks must be maintained at all costs.  Fungus is air born so even just opening a jar can activate it in the new germinations.

Danny Bell at our meeting

Danny Bell at our meeting

Mericloning or tissue culture is a delicate operation and needs study before undertaking.  The whole plant can be lost if done incorrectly.  A sterile environment and flasks are also a must.  To elicit expanded growth from the culture it can be placed on a rotating wheel which causes confusion throwing off 5 to 10 shoots, or protocorms, to develop.  All of these methods have made the cost of orchids for the lay person so much more accessible.

If you wish to neutralise your potting bark immerse it in a lime solution.

Always hybridise by starting with strong healthy plants to ensure a strong healthy hybrid.

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Seed Raising at Home

Some people have had success raising orchid seeds at home without a lot of equipment.  Thanks to Steve Clemesha for these notes.

This is a fairly easy method with orchids that have relatively large seeds.  This includes Bletilla, Crucifix, Dendrobium speciosum, Den kingianum and soft cane Dendrobiums.

The method is to fill a pot with potting mix, then put a layer of 1-2 cm sphagnum moss, then cover this with a piece of old towel, tucking this down at the edges.  If towel is not available any rough material will do.

Get some root tips from the parent plant.  Get tips which are in the potting mix- these contain a fungus which the seeds need to germinate.  Pour boiling water over the towel on top of the pot, then cover straight away with clear plastic sheeting eg. A cut-open plastic bag, and tie this on.

After the pot cools open the pots again and add the root tips and scatter the orchid seed over the surface of the pot.  Then tie the plastic over the pot again.

Next place a black plastic sheet over the clear plastic and leave this on for 3 weeks.  This will kill all algae spores and prevent the seedlings being smothered by it.  Place the pot in a place where it is fairly light, but not in full sun.  The pot should be fairly large so you don’t have to water them too much.  If you need to water them stand in a dish of boiled water.

The seed germinates after about a month.  They grow into a green blob called a protocorms.  This will start to form root hairs after 2-3 months, and then very small leaves.  Then true roots will form.

Another way to germinate seed is to float them on top of a glass or bottle of water.  Steve has germinated Bletilla, disa, and crucifix orchids this way.  After the seed has germinated it needs to be transferred to a pot since there are no nutrients in the water.

Any questions?  See Steve Clemesha.

Orchid Magazines

There are two Australian orchid magazines – The Australian Orchid Review and Orchids Australia.  We subscribe to Orchid Australia which is published by the Australian Orchid Council – AOC.

The October edition has several articles on Phalaenopses, and an article on Sarcochilus.  The magazine, and back copies, are in our library – see the librarian Carol Davies.


Please remember that nominations for the AGM close with the returning officer, Don Turner at 7 p.m. on the day of the meeting, i.e. 4 Nov


Despite that inclement weather we had our first workshop at Gordon’s home on 10th of October. This was a good date because it was 10-10-10 (and yes we started at 10 o’clock).

 Brian at the workshop

Brian at the workshop

Brian and Gordon wanted to start at the grassroots of orchid care.  To start it was all about Location, Location, Location. If you get this right for the plant in question then all should go well.

When building a shade house it should be facing East or North East to get morning sun, and with a solid roof for protection in a well ventilated position. Orchids love North Easterly winds.

Using chicken wire on the wall before attaching 70% shade cloth will give better protection and strength to the structure.  Roof should be high enough to enable hanging orchids.

No matter how many orchids you may have now – quadruple then double again the size of your structure to allow for your expanding collection.

Make the benches inside the structure from heavy mesh and at a height comfortable to work at. Wooden benches do not allow for enough ventilation and roots may attach to them. Light coming through the 70% shade cloth gets darker the lower down you go. Place black plastic on the floor and cover with road base 50mm (approx 2 inches) thick or something similar.  Water evaporating from this will help humidity in summer.  A temperature/humidity gauge is also helpful.

Native orchids low growing love humidity but tree orchids less so. Orchids can acclimatise but generally we have to adapt our circumstances to them.
Cooler growers    – Cattleyas, Sarcochilus, Cymbidium, Coelogyne

Some need cooler climes to ensure good flowering, it is usually trial and error to find where growth does the best.

Mention was made of virus in orchids.  E.g. Cymbidium Jubilation “Geronimo” carries orchid virus – there is no cure except the garbage bin.  Also Hippeastrums carry the virus – it shows up white/yellow flecks on the leaves.  There is no protection and can be spread by insects.

Cattleyas – get the tobacco virus which over successive flowering drains the flower of colour.  No cure and must also be binned if found.  Don’t buy plants with lots of ribbing in them unless there is lots of new growth as well.  A back cut should have a little eye at the base. Any divisions should have forward growth.  Check carefully as even nurseries and growers have been known to sell duds.

Oncidiums – develop a ring spot virus which is also incurable and must go the same way of the others

Phalaenopses are worth growing.  They are fast growing and can flower in 14 months out of flask.  They must be put into a protected area in very cold months during the night hours.  The leaves must be standing up.  If buying in bud – look for round buds as this will ensure a round flower good for showing.

Buy something that has already had a first flowering if you don’t want to wait.  Buy plants with plenty of roots – especially if buying baby plants.  Buying community pots may work out cheaper.
Orchid growing may be a hobby but you will find it not much cheaper than playing poker machines – but at least you get a better return.

Try not to grow too many varieties of orchids – suggest working out what you like/what grows well for you and then stick to that.  Select the ones you really like and what your conditions can handle
For both showing and health of a young plant – cut the flower off when blooming to give root strength – rest for two weeks then re-pot to get a better display next year.

Remove dead leaves by either cutting or pulling from base.

Dividing & re-potting Cymbidiums.  Remove dead leaves and old brown pieces that have already flowered.

Remove from pot and if it the root base is matted cut across the root system approximately 2-3 inches below the base of the plant. Cut through top into required sized pieces to ensure good flowering – make sure each piece has 3 or 4 bulbs.

Orchids flower even with yellow leaves but if leaves get dark green they are not getting enough sun and wont flower.

In a new pot put Styrofoam at the base about 3 to 5cm for good drainage.  Top with Searle’s Cymbidium & Bromeliad mix or similar.  Sit in pot with the plant base near the top and fill to secure.  Thumb the mix around the base – don’t press it down. Keep bulbs up from rim.

If planting in the garden – build a mound and stone or gravel around for it to sit up in.

Dendrobium Speciosum.  If you have any sign of fungal infestation drench with fungicide before re-potting – Benlate, Alginox or Guardex.  Divide and take off old flowering stems, leaves etc.  Don’t use a pot with all mesh sides as the roots will grow through the holes making it difficult to re-pot later.

Make sure you label all your new plants

Next Workshop Sunday 7th November at Gordon Clarke’s – 26 Pullen Street, Woolgoolga.

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President’s Report to 2010 AGM

The 2009/10 year has been a very successful year for our society.  We have been delighted to welcome a number of new members. This year we created a web-site for the society – www.coffsorchidsociety.org.au – which is our face to the world.  We publish our newsletters, program, growing notes, etc on our site.

Our aim is to provide a range of opportunities for people to learn more about growing orchids, and to enjoy the contacts and friendship of people who share an interest in orchids.  We’ve held 11 meetings attended by an average of more than 31 which is an increase on last year.

During the year we had a variety of guest speakers.  Ray Clements of Tinonee Orchids spoke about growing Australian natives, speakers from the railways spoke about travel and packages available, Steve Clemesha talked about judging, Murray Shergold talked about growing Oncidium alliance orchids, Dennis Sinclair spoke about breeding and growing Sarcochilus, Ed Pearce talked about computers and orchids, Steve Clemesha showed us how pollination works and Danny Bell talked about flasking and mericloning. Thanks to all our speakers – as you can see we have covered a lot of topics.

We’ve also had a visit to Dark Star Orchids, and we have started workshops for beginners.

The year has been highlighted by our two shows.  We were delighted by the support of orchid growers and we were able to put on excellent displays on each occasion.  Congratulations to Norm and Kay Mitchell, and to Eric and Dot Collins for winning our Grand Champion prizes.  Thanks to Show Marshall Ivy Wheeler and her team for their efforts.

The Society is very appreciative of the support of our sponsors which ensures that we remain in a sound financial position.  I encourage you to support our sponsors.

The committee meets regularly to handle the day to day affairs of the society and I would like to thank them for their efforts and for their constructive contributions.

I am standing down after 4 years as president and I would like to thank you all for your support and for your support of our society.

Agenda for 2010 AGM

  • WELCOME to members and visitors
  • MINUTES of 2009 AGM – as printed in this newsletter
  • PRESIDENT’S REPORT – as printed in this newsletter
  • FINANCIAL REPORT – provided at meeting.
    1. Moved that annual subscription remain the same in 2010/11 as for this year, i.e. 410 and $15 for couples.
    • President
    • Vice President
    • Secretary
    • Treasurer
    • Committee – 3 members.

Minutes of 2009 AGM

  1. President Don welcomed the 39 members and visitors present.
  2. APOLOGIES were received from Brian Moore, Pam and Graham Baillie, Peter Baker, Sue Williams and John Oliver.
  3. MINUTES. Mvd Ken, Scd Ron That Minutes as printed in the newsletter be approved.
  4. BUSINESS ARISING      nil
  5. CORRESPONDENCE      nil
  6. PRESIDENT’S REPORT as printed in newsletter. Don highlighted a couple of points, and moved a vote of thanks to Ken Green for his efforts as Show Marshall.  Carried by acclamation.
  7. FINANCIAL REPORT     Financial report was circulated by Treasurer Bruce.  Bruce spoke to a couple of points and stated that despite the increased costs in several areas we were able to run at a small profit due to the generosity of our sponsors.Mvd Bruce, Scd Kay That reports be accepted.
  8. ELECTIONS.   President Don declared all positions vacant and called on Returning Officer Ed to announce the results.  Since the number of nominations equalled the number of vacancies there was no need for an election. The results were:
    • President Don Turner
    • Vice President Steve Clemesha
    • Secretary Ed Pearce
    • Treasurer Bruce Hall
    • Committee Glad Fleming, Gary Suter, Sue Williams

    Pauline George and Betty Pittaway, who stood down from committee, were thanked for their contributions and the work they have done for the society.

    The other positions were announced as

    • Show Marshall  Ivy Wheeler
    • Asst Show Marshall Bill Bright
    • Editor Ed Pearce
    • Asst Editor Bob Griffin
    • Publicity Bruce Hall
    • Membership Bruce Hall
    • Librarian Joy Kelly, Pauline George
    • Public Officer Steve Clemesha
    • Catering Sue Williams, Barb Pearce
    • Raffle Plants Betty Pittaway
    • Raffle sales Clem Murray
    • Sales table Glad Fleming
    • Monthly Comp points Steve Newman
    • Photography John Higgins
    1. Mvd Bruce, Scd Ken That annual subscriptions remain the same for 2009/10, i.e. $10 and $15 for a couple.

Bruce mentioned that the committee would be reviewing the subs in the light of the increased costs faced by the society, and the increased services being provided.
Meeting closed

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Agenda for November 2010 Meeting

  • Welcome, Apologies, Visitors.
  • New members?
  • Minutes of Oct meeting – as printed
  • Business Arising
  • Committee Report
  • Inwards Correspondence
    1. BCU statements
    2. Xerox tax invoice
    3. Neutrog brochure
    4. OSNSW newsletter and invitation
    5. Thanks from R&J Cowling
  • Outwards Correspondence
    1. Thanks to Murray Shergold and request for sponsorship next year.
  • Finance Report – no report?
  • Sponsors Spot – Mangrove Jacks.
  • Table talk
  • General Business
    1. Christmas meeting
    2. Orchidwiz auction
  • Guest speaker.  Ivy Wheeler
  • Raffle, popular vote.

Minutes for October 2010 Meeting

  • President Don welcomed the 32 members to our meeting, and issued a special welcome our guest speaker, Danny Bell and his wife Anita.
  • Apologies were received from Dulcie McBain, Bernie Hoffman, Tracey Suter, Di Blay, Ron and Judy Cowling.
  • New members Tess and Brian Nicholls were welcomed to the society.  They are new to orchid growing.
  • Minutes of Sept meeting as printed in the newsletter were approved Mvd Sue, Scd Steve C.
  • Business Arising – nil.  See general business
  • Committee Report – see newsletter
  • Inwards Correspondence
    1. Biogrow catalogue
    2. Returned mail from post office
    3. BCU Statements
    4. Tax invoice for use of meeting room
    5. Botanic Gardens newsletter
    6. Tax invoice for 2AIR FM membership
    7. Tax invoice for OSNSW membership
    8. OSNSW newsletter
    9. ATM Tours – Taiwan Orchid Show 2011.
    10. Orchidwiz program
    11. Orchid Australia magazine.
  • Outwards Correspondence
    1. Thanks to BCU
    2. Thanks to Plaza management.
    3. Thanks to Ivy for Show Marshall
    4. Sympathy to Bruce Hall
    5. Get well for Bernie Hoffman
    6. Get well for Ron Cowling
    7. Get well for Barbara Hunt.
  • Mvd Pauline, Scd Betty that correspondence be approved
  • Finance Report – to be presented at meeting.  Showed that we basically broke even at the Spring Show, and that we continue to be in a sound financial position.  Mvd Gary, Scd Glad that report be approved.
  • Sponsors Spot – BCU.  Ed spoke of BCU services and encouraged members to see what BCU can do for them.
  • General Business
    1. Review of Show, including DVD. Suggested that we need to use black plastic, Hessian or similar for the tables especially for the “skirt”.  Also need to improve the roster and could sell more plants at the sales table.
    2. AGM and elections.  Further call for nominations and/or expressions of interest.
    3. Botanica at Gardens on Sunday 17th Oct. – need helpers.
    4. Reminder of luncheon at Ivy’s on 14 Nov to welcome the Redcliffe OS.
    5. Woolgoolga will be getting bags of bark.  A list was circulated for orders.
    6. Ed showed the CHOS shirts with embroidery.  Shirts available from Lowes, or similar, and embroidery costs $10 at shop in Northside shopping centre.
  • Guest speaker.  Danny Bell who spoke about pollination, flasking and mericloning.
  • Raffles were won by Gary, Peter and Leonie, popular vote was won by Ivy for her excellent Dendrobium Thrysiflorum x Farmeri and the table talk was given by Steve.
  • Meeting closed at 8.45 for supper.

Committee Report

Committee met on Wednesday 20th at Ed’s.  Matters discussed were

  • Will buy some more tables from Bunnings
  • Revising show schedules
  • Will look into use of plastic or Hessian or for shows.
  • Agreed to do table talk earlier in meeting
  • Will look into microphone, but members encouraged to sit nearer front if they have difficulty hearing
  • Arranging Christmas meeting
  • Auction of Orchidwiz – sealed auction
  • Thanks to retiring members of committee

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