It is August and I have removed the keiki from the single miniature phal and put it in another pot. I am conscious of the fact that I may have done this too early as the leaves have become striated and leathery, however there is a new leaf which looks ok, – only time will tell whether it worked. The two re-potted ‘twins’ are still growing although the one that hasn’t flowered for some time has striated, pale leaves, it remains to be seen whether or not this one will survive, I could do some surgery on its roots but I have decided to leave it for a while to allow it to recover from re-potting. The other twin is surviving well and growing healthy looking foliage. The large pink orchid now has a new flower spike (shown) and its first flower (centre of lower three pictures) is a much deeper colour, in fact it was deep red dusted with gold when it first came out. This plant has just lost its last flower from its previous flower spike. The ‘Flare Spots’ (on the left) is still in bloom and its detached keiki has lost all its flowers now as has the single miniature.

The newest plant (on the right) has two new flowers on one of its two spikes, – many of the old blooms are still there, – they have been there for between five and six months and look distinctly faded compared to the new ones. That plant is exceptional and apart from growing slightly has not changed since I got it several years ago, it has not lost a single leaf or even a single leaf turned yellow, it has healthy green roots and has had many flower spikes full of flowers.




The ‘twin’ miniature phals have been looking a bit tired in recent months, and only one of them has flowered this year, so I thought it was worth re-potting them with fresh bark medium, in larger pots.
Already one of them has a new healthy green leaf and I’m hoping that this strategy will save them. I have also dispensed with the outer ceramic pots and left them just with the clear plastic inner pots, to get maximum light to the roots in this transitional phase.
The other miniature phal with a well-developed keiki has now got three roots and when they are slightly longer it will be time for me to give the plantlet a life of its own by cutting it free and planting it in a new pot.
The other orchids are still flowering and producing healthy foliage, the oldest (pink) will be ten years old next year and has both old flowers and a new flower spike too, at present.
It will soon be time to repot this one, after it has finished flowering this time and it will be necessary to use a nine inch pot, quite a bit of growth and several re-pottings since my wife bought it for me.

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It is June and the keiki on the miniature phal has almost lost its first flowering despite being still attached to the parent plant. (first picture)
Its first root can be clearly seen and when it has a couple more I will detach it from the parent plant and pot it up.
The other picture shows the twin miniature plants, one of which has not flowered for a year. (on right). The other one has recently lost its flowers.
These plants have never had great leaves, but I have  confidence that they will improve, possibly after a re-pot. All the other plants are flowering well and look in good condition.

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.

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.

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.