One of my favourite denizens

One of my favourite denizens of the orchid-forum underground is “Hank”, of the orchid source forum. Hank stands out for his solid advice, down-to-earth common sense, and a delightfully quirky sense of of humour.

He’s posted a couple of orchid growing gems recently, which I will repeat here so that I don’t forget.

On Fertilizer:
“Speaking of Miracle Grow….Some of you might know this already, but Miracle Grow “Miracid” 30-10-10 was, many years ago, developed specifically as an Orchid Fertilizer by Dr. Thomas Sheehan, of the U. of Florida. A little more background is that the water there at the UF lab was around a PH of 8….so the fertilizer was kind of on the acid side to bring the PH down to a neutral range. Very good for this even today, since a 5.5 PH area works well on Orchids. As another aside, here….Dyna Grow users are, I’m sure, aware of how much DG drops the PH when mixed with water….if you’ve never noticed this, check it next time you fertilize.”

On Overanxious Orchid Hobbyists
“Too bad every new Orchid Grower can’t get a short trip somewhere in (South America) to see plants “En Situ”. The shock would take weeks to wear off. Most hobby growers worry too much about everything from light to fertilizer to little blotches and a few chilly nights. These plants have been surviving for millions of years before we ever discovered them…and will be around after we’re gone…unless we trash the planet, that is. And we’re working very hard on that. ”

On whether to remove cattleya sheaths
“A green sheath is a sterile environment for the buds to develop in….that’s why it’s there. It also serves as a support for the flower stalk(s) once the developing buds have emerged at the top. Normally, you can just clip the very top of the sheath when the buds reach that far. If the sheath turns brown and/or necrotic during bud growth….remove it regardless of how small the buds are. One exception to this is some of the species Catts, which develop sheaths in Summer and then hold them all Fall and Winter….blooming in the Spring. Leave these as well until you see buds just beginning to develop…then take them off. ”

More on fertilizers:
“Everyone needs at least 26 different fertilizers. The people that wander endlessly through the World’s jungles fertilizing Orchids in their natural habitats use 26 different varieties…I’m sick of (people) constantly trying to inject common sense into discussions that start out here as promising good, solid nonsense. After all 96 % of all Orchid advice you see is nonsense and I see no reason to depart from a format that is completely proven…not to mention the economic effect on all the commercial growers who are likely to lose business if fewer Orchids die in the care of experts like us.”