Australian Orchids: varieties and care tips

John Gay spoke on the different species and varieties of orchids throughout Australia.

Orchid care starts with choosing plants that are suited to your environment. Consider the orchids adaptability, ease of growing, ready availability and their beautiful flowers.

The best way to care for orchids is to water them every five to 12 days, depending on the variety. Make sure your orchid is receiving bright but indirect sunlight and has enough natural airflow to remain healthy. Use fertiliser once a month.

Epiphytes orchids have special adaptions to their roots to help them cling to trees and gather moisture from the air. Most of the epiphytes are traditionally grown in Adelaide, flowering in spring.

There are over 1000 types of Dendrobium orchids and hybrids that produce long graceful sprays of white or lavender flowers during fall and winter. The flowers can remain for three to four weeks, and are one of the easiest plants to care for. 

There are around 50 different colours of the Epidendrum (Crucifix orchids), flowering up to five years. The flowers range from minute to large and they are strong with the petals and sepals held flat.

Phalaenopsis (Moth orchids), are elegant indoor orchids. The long sprays of colourful flowers stay fresh for months. Flowering begins in winter or early spring. Cut back to second node after flowering.

Cymbidium orchids appreciate a protected position away from hot sun, heavy winds and direct frost. The perfect environment should be warm, airy, bright conditions preferably off the ground and facing north.

When potting orchids cut one third of their roots, divide clumps, take any old sheafs off, pull dead roots out and dust with dusting sulphur to stop infections.

Pest control - Scale problem: mix a teaspoon white oil, detergent and water and spray on plants

Competition results: B: B. Rule; B. & D. Hoffman. C: R. & C. Butcher; R. MacCulloch; B. & D. Hoffman. D: B. Rule; C. & R. Butcher; R. & C. Butcher. E1: B. & D. Hoffman; M. McDougall; B. Rule; B. Rule; B. Rule; B. Rule; R. & C. Butcher; D. Griffiths; R. & C. Butcher; B. Rule; R. MacCulloch; B. & D. Hoffman. J1: B. Rule; B. & D. Hoffman; D. Griffiths. J2: D. Griffiths; R. & C. Butcher; R. & C. Butcher. J3: R. & C. Butcher; R. & C. Butcher; B. Rule. Champion exhibit: Rob & Chris Butcher