Cary’s Shadehouse

Spring has really sprung at my place, especially with the natives. The Dockrillias in particular have been outstanding. Things like calamiformis, teretifolia, fairfaxii, schoenina and pugioniformis. I’m really finding that the ones that are in mesh pots are doing far better than the ones on mounts, no matter which way they have been planted.

I have used 3 basic methods:

  • just plant straight into the pot
  • cut a window or flap on the side of the mesh pot and poke the roots through making sure that the plant is secure
  • cut a window or flap in the base of the pot and poke the roots up into the pot. Seeing that they mostly have hefty roots, I use large or medium bark. This technique works well with other things as well, including Sarcochilus falcatus, especially on the side of the pot. In fact Guy (Cantor) just ties them onto the side and and this allows the roots to find their own way in.

One of the really good things about growing orchids (and gardening in general) is that you can experiment quite a bit with your growing techniques. It can lead to unusual and spectacular results.

How many times have you admired a plant on the bench which has been grown in an unconventional manner, ending up in not only a healthy, robust plant but almost a work of art? For example, it wasn’t that long ago that the idea of growing orchids successfully in water well pots would have been debunked by the “experts”. There is a whole range of orchids that are more than suited to this technique with brilliant results. I have never been able to grow Dendrobium agrostophyllum for any length of time, just standing by helplessly watching it go into an irreversible state of decline leading to death but now I have one in a waterwell and it is one of the stars in my bush house.

Of course when trying different things you must be prepared for some failures, but this tends to happen anyway no matter what you do. Right now you should be actively engaged in repotting, feeding and general maintenance. I’ve been having too many distractions and interruptions like fishing, bushwalking and car projects, not to mention all the things that Jill wants me to help her with in the garden and the house. Just repotting the odd plant on the run here and there is not exactly the most efficient way of doing things but it’s still something. Even this week is not looking that good for me especially now that the COVID restrictions have eased. I certainly have a number of big potting jobs looming that I need to get onto and this is the best time of the year for that.

So somewhere, sometime I’m going to have to bite the bullet and get stuck into my “orchid jobs”, and sooner rather than later. I still make the time everyday at least once, to go into both the bush house and the hothouse and cast an eye over while doing a walkpast to ensure that nothing awful is happening anywhere. Like any interest, what you put into it is directly related to what you get out of it.

Editor’s note:  This article was published in Mt. Kur-ring-gai Orchid Society and Jim Brydie (Editor) added a note for extra information:-

Just in case some growers haven’t tried ‘net’ pots or water well pots before, the ‘net’ pot is 140mm wide and the waterwell pots are 200mm and 155mm, but they are available in some other sizes of both types, as well.

The water well  pots don’t have a clip on base, they only have one drain hole in the centre, on a short pedestal which makes a water reservoir.

Additionally, Cary advised me that he used poly styrene bits in the bottom of the pot to keep roots above the water in the base, but was not happy with the results.  He is now using the round “ceramic balls” in the bottom of the pot and is happy with the results.