Orchids for TREES – GROWING ORCHIDS “NATURALLY”
As emphasis is more and more on the “natural” way, a lot of people prefer to take their orchids out of the pot and grow them in trees. It is in fact true that most of the orchids do not need special hothouses in many areas of South Africa and can be moved successfully from a sheltered environment into trees in a garden. Orchids are not parasites and grow on the bark layer only, feeding on dust, bird droppings and rotten leaf material washed down on the roots by rain. They prefer trees with rough, corky bark but can even thrive on trees like avocado, palm trees and paw-paws ! Other examples to use are Acacia, Albizia, Yellow Wood, Chinese Maple, Pride of India, Wild Olive, Knobthorn.
Orchids that grow well in summer rainfall areas are those that prefer a drier winter rest period with rain in the summer. These include orchids like Dendrobium, Oncidium (and related hybrids of this family like Vuylstekeara, Wilsonara, Colmonara) and Cattleya and their inter-generic hybrids.
The best time to attach them is when the roots start growing actively (in spring), when they will attach quickly to the bark. Tie them firmly to prevent the roots from damaging if it is windy. Pieces of pantyhose are gentle to use and won’t cut the roots.(Cut the legs of the pantyhose in 2cm strips, cut the loops through and pull to form a strong string). If it is very dry, put a little moss behind the roots to hold some moisture until they are properly attached. They flower best in trees that are not too shaded and can only benefit from fertiliser. If they are not too high up in the tree water them once or twice a week.
As Jamie Oliver would say : “Easy peasy!” (and that’s no lie!)