This week we visit the Dorothy
Chapman Fuqua Orchid Center at Atlanta
Botanical Garden (ABG). Ron Determan is the Conservatory
Superintendent and is in charge of all facets of indoor
horticulture. He also is the mastermind behind the engineering
of the building. To provide the orchids a high altitude
elevation environment, similar to the cloud forests of their
native environment, 5 or 6 thousand feet above sea level
- that of the Andes or Southeastern Asia - he has borrowed
technology found in the textile industry. They use washing
Ron has applied it for the first time to greenhouses at
integrated that system with other systems such as high pressure
cooling, roofs that open, etc.. This allows these beautiful
grow in the unlikely environment of Atlanta, Ga.
We view plants from three areas the Andes, the flat top
table mountains in South America and Southeast Asia - Mount
Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Borneo. We view a rock
wall made with real rocks, rescued from a D.O.T. bypass.
On this, Andean Mountain plants are plentiful and unusual.
The Southeastern Asian Mountain area has many plants as
specifically discuss Pitcher Plants, Nepenthes Lowii, carnivorous
that grow only in these mountains.
In another area they simulate the Tepuis, the flat top table
in southeastern Venezuela and Brazil. The elevation in that
be 6,500 feet or so. There are plants in/from this environment
wouldn't be encountered anywhere else on earth. One might
Carnivorous Bromeliads, relatives of Saracenias, Eucathalarias
course, Orchids. They survive in a very thin layer of soil,
sand and possibly a little organic matter. The soil is very
leached, practically no nutrients. The area would be wind
swept and the
plants hang in clouds part of the day. The roots cling to
Becky Brinkman is the Orchid curator at ABG. She shows us
some of her
favorite Orchids. Cattleya Dowiana is from Costa Rica, it
is a velvety
crimson color with gold veins and purple margins and it
incredible fragrance. It requires a little more light and
most so she hangs it close to the glass. It could be grown
greenhouse or atrium. We next view Coryanthes Elegantium,
Bucket Orchid because the lip, which is the most prominent
shaped like a bucket and it fills with liquid. This plant
has a very
peculiar pollination mechanism, it produces a powerful fragrance
attracts a particular species of bee, an Euglasian Bee.
There are large
iridescent tropical bees that seek this fragrance. When
they land on the
orchid they scratch the surface to obtain the fragrance
which is a
liquid. Some of the fragrance is converted into a Pheromone,
then loose balance and fall into the liquid and do several
the Orchid flower. The bee can no longer fly because his
wings are wet
so the only way out is through the little opening in the
back and that
is where the pollen is stored. By crawling through the opening
picks up the pollen.
Another Orchid has a different pollination mechanism. The
bee lands on
the Orchid that has a downward pointing antenna, almost
like a trigger.
The pollen is held under pressure, when the bee bumps the
pollen is shot onto his back and is held there by a sticky
A tropical cousin of the Lady Slipper is Paphiopedilum Lowii.
native to Malaysia and Indonesia. The shape of both of these
similar and both like a similar environment, the forest
floor, in the
shade or in crevices among rocks.
Paphinia Herrerae has beautiful white, translucent petals.
At ABG all
are offspring of one plant brought from Equador to ABG in
The ABG Orchid Center is the largest public display of Orchids
U.S. They have a formal display area where they maintain
a year round
display of Orchids and flowers. Another area simulates the
habitat of different Orchids from Mexico or Madagascar,
wetlands or meadows. It is all beautiful.
Mike Wenzel is Tropical Accessions Manager at ABG, that
means he is in
charge of cataloging and tracking thousands of plants. Mike
some easy to grow Orchids. The Phalaenopsis, or Moth Orchid,
indoor temperature ranges very well. They will survive and
bloom in a
lower light situation although they do need light to flower.
typically bloom in the spring and some shown have largish
sized flowers. Phalaenopsis Bellina is a species that you
might see growing on the side of a tree in southeast Asia.
It is a parent of a hybrid Phalaenopsis. It too is easy
to grow, has a different style and a spicy fragrance. When
watering Orchids remember they like to dry out a little
between waterings. Don't let them get bone dry, but when
slightly dry, soak them, then allow them to drain. Drainage
Some Orchids have a bulb-like feature on the bottom called
pseudo-bulbs. These organs help store water for use when
water is not available. Some Orchids have these, some don't,
a Moth Orchid doesn't.
Hybrid Miltonia, Honolulu tends to bloom in the summer.
The hybrid shown is a beautiful purple color and has many
spikes. It has the
pseudo-bulbs, thus doesn't need watering often. If one wants
to get the plant to rebloom, fertilizer is not necessarily
the answer. Often times light is the biggest issue, Orchids
don't need full sun, but they do
need bright indirect light in the morning, particularly
if the plant is
behind glass. They can be taken outdoors as long as they
don't get too
much light, especially in the afternoon, or too much water.
indirect light is ideal.
Miltassia is a hybrid, has a completely different look,
It has a lot of browns, maroons and mauves and is exotic
looking. It too is easy to care for.
Becky Brinkman joins us again to show us how to repot Orchids.
Repotting an Orchid is easy. Remember Orchids resent root
disturbance. Their roots are designed to attach to surfaces,
typically a tree trunk. They also attach to the inside of
a pot. When they're repotted the roots tear from the surface
- the pot - and that results in injury and a setback for
the plant. There are two reasons to repot an Orchid. One
is if the plant has outgrown the pot, the second occurs
when the soil mix has broken down. Becky has assembled all
materials needed to repot- sterile sharp cutting tools,
clean pots rhizome clips and soil mix. The soil mix contains
no soil but instead fir bark, charcoal and lava rock, otherwise
known as Perlite. The best time to repot is when the new
shoot is 1 to 2 inches tall, before the roots have emerged.
Keep your eye on the new shoot because it is as tender as
new Asparagus and if you break the new shoot you've lost
a whole years growth. First remove the Rhizome clip from
the pot, invert the plant and gently tap it on the table.
Next wash the roots, this removes old soil sediment from
the root ball and allows examination of the roots. In the
case of the plant in this show the older part has started
to die back. It no longer has living roots. Remove that
portion of the plant, Becky uses the razor blade and removes
the oldest three growths from the plant. The roots were
no longer healthy. she then chooses the correct size pot.
Orchids like to have their roots confined in the pot, not
so much because they like confinement but because they like
their roots to grow on the pot itself. Make sure the plant
is snug in the pot yet still has enough room to grow for
two years. To make room for two years growth, place the
plant, not in the center, but back the old growth against
the side of the pot. This allows the new shoots room to
grow. Fill in the empty space with the soil mix, packing
it firmly insuring no air pockets. Make sure the plant doesn't
wobble. Once done, attach the Rhizome clip. It holds the
plant firmly in place. Fertilize every two weeks, watch
for pests and the plant should be good for another two years.
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