I have noticed quite a useful fact over the last few years of growing phalaenopsis orchids concerning aerial roots. Whilst these roots are very necessary when the plants are growing from tree limbs in the wild, in the home environment they do not seem to be that useful.
My plants that had aerial roots still have them however and I mist the roots with rainwater once a week.
Plants that did not have aerial roots to start with have never grown them under my growth conditions and the keiki that I removed and is now a mature plant does not have any aerial roots. Nor does the second keiki which is still attached to its parent plant and is flowering at the moment, as is its parent.

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Painting in all its forms is a somewhat toxic pastime or job and it pays to have some extra knowledge when using paint or disposing of it. I have built up some methodology over a number of years which I apply to the various media I use on a regular basis. In the main I paint in oils and as the paint I use is oil based ( although there are now water based oil paints) it is a question of finding less toxic paint thinners and brush cleaners, and not using domestic drains as a disposal point.

As a thinner I use Winsor and Newton Liquin Fine Detail, this is less toxic than using turpentine, but still needs some care as it contains some suspect compounds. It needs to be used relatively quickly as it soon darkens in colour, eventually turning into a solid block.

The brush cleaner I use is Weber turpenoid natural which is a fabulous non – toxic brush cleaner and conditioner, which makes the paint miscible with water. If you follow the instructions carefully you can keep all the brush cleanings from producing a 70 X 50 cm canvas in a standard sized jam jar.

When you finish your painting take a cat litter tray and fill it with the granule type of litter Рpour the diluted paint evenly over the litter and leave to dry, preferably outside. When perfectly dry the litter can be scraped into a black bin bag and disposed of by sending to landfill where it will degrade. This is by far a superior alternative to allowing toxic paint and brush cleaner to enter our sewers.


Most of the orchids now have a profusion of flowers. The ones not flowering as yet still look healthy, but some will soon need re-potting.
I know many find this task somewhat daunting, but with a little care it can be achieved without too much of a problem.
Choose a clear pot one size larger, and fill to approx one third with ‘bark mixture’ growth medium.
Carefully remove the plant from its old pot and remove all the old bark mix, cut out any roots which are not a healthy green colour. Place the plant in its new pot resting on the bark medium and carefully fill the remainder of the pot with the same, taking care not to damage the roots and making sure that all the spaces are filled. Flush the new pot through with rainwater (or clean tap water) and finally feed and water and mist the leaves.
The newly potted plant should look like this picture.
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Everything looks pretty healthy, although a couple of plants are coming up for re-potting. The only surprising thing (which can clearly be seen on the photo) is the fact that one of the ‘twins’ is still refusing to flower in spite of looking ok otherwise. I am sure it will start to flower again pretty soon however.

The original ‘Flare Spots’ on the left has a healthy flower spike which will soon be in bloom.

http://www.robinsonart.co.uk


I thought it may be a good idea to reiterate some earlier stuff on orchid growing as I believe that many beginners think that orchids grow in a similar way to other house plants, this is a misconception and will undoubtedly lead to problems growing these unusual plants.
The first picture shows a phalaenopsis orchid growing in its natural habitat and the second growing in my bathroom. Aerial roots can clearly be seen on the first photograph where the orchid is growing on a tree branch in the tropical biosphere at The Eden Project.

My orchid is growing in a bark medium which simulates the bark of the tree, which they grow on in the wild. On the right of picture 2 is a flower spike in bud and on the left a keiki or plantlet with its own flower spike. Eventually this plantlet will grow aerial roots and become a separate plant.

Orchids are parasitic and derive some of their water and nutrients from the host plant, which is why you need to simulate these conditions carefully in order to grow them successfully.

Things are mixed with the orchids here in January. The miniature ‘twins! have refused to behave as such now, one is about to flower, whereas the other has shown no signs of flowering for several months.

The single miniature has a new flower spike and has lost all the flowers from the old one. The keiki which is still attached is now producing a flower spike too.

The oldest pink orchid still has a good display of blooms and the original ‘flare spots’ has lost its flowers, whilst it’s detached keiki is still in flower.

The other large phal still has two flowering spikes.

I thought it was a good idea to show you the foliage of all the orchids clearly and also a shot of the roots through a clear pot, in order to show the exceptional greenness throughout.


Some flowers are starting to fade now, though there is still a mass of blooms.
The miniature phalaenopsis with the keiki now has a new flower spike along with its group of flowers. There are plenty of healthy green leaves on all of the plants too.
One of the ‘twin’ miniatures now has a well developed flower spike, whilst the other has as yet not shown any signs of flowering, however, this one is often later than the others.

http://www.robinsonart.co.uk