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Orchids belong to Orchidaceae family and it is a monocotyledonous perennial plant. Normally in commercial cultivation’s orchids are used as hybrid plants. There are 70% of fragrant flowering species. Mainly used as an ornamental plant, in additionally as medicinal and spices plant. The orchids are divided into two groups according to their growth habit. They can be identified through the following features.

Monopodial


  • The main stem carry only one apical bud
  • Do not produce pseudobulbs
  • Has a vertical growing point

Orchid genera such as Phalaenopsis, Renanthera, Vanda, Ascocendra and Aracnis are included in to monopodial growth habit.

Sympodial

  • Do not have a main stem
  • New shoots come from a horizontal rhizome
  • Produce pseudobulbs as a food storing device
  • Has a horizontal growing point
Orchid genera such as Dendrobium, Cattleya, Cymbidium, and Oncidium are included into sympodial growth habit.
Orchids can also be divided in to two groups according to where they grow.

Epiphytic

The orchids are grown above ground and both on tree branches or rocks are included into epiphytic orchids. Dendrobium, Cattliya, Oncidium, Vanda, Phapenopsis like orchid genera belong to epiphytic growth habit.

Terrestrial

The orchids which are grown on soil are included into terrestrial orchids. Aracnis, Epidendrum, Spathoglotis genera are consistent with a terrestrial growth habit.
The orchids are classified as various genera according to their features of plant and flower.

Dendrobium


  • Have fleshy or wiry stems
  • Racemes of flowers are solitary or numerous
  • Produce pseudobulbs to store food and water
  • Perform under cool to warm condition with 40% shade level
  • Produce tiny to large flowers with moth shape
Dendrobium can be further classified into 3 types according to the shape of the flower.

Phalaenopsis type

Phalaenopsis type Dendrobium orchid grows about 2 – 2½ feet in height and produces round and moth shape large flowers with overlapping sepals and petals. They can produce 10 – 15 flowers on a single raceme. Flowers can be harvested up to 5 years continuously after beginning to flowering.
Ex– D. phalanopsis, D. bigibbum, D. lady constance.

Cane type

Cane type Dendrobium orchid produces long raceme of spidery – shape flowers with thin, long twisted and waved sepals and petals. Produce 20 – 25 flowers per raceme, do not have much value as cut flower but have a good vigor.

Intermediate type

Intermediate type Dendrobium orchid is produced by hybridization of Phalaenopsis and cane types. This gives intermediate flower characters of the previous mention two types. 5 – 6 inflorescences can be harvested per year. Mostly used as a cut flower.

Vanda

  • Vandaceous orchids mostly include into the terrestrial type
  • One stem with one growing point
  • Perform under warm and sunlight condition
  • Produce very colorful flowers with various colure patterns
There are three main types according to the leaves shape.

Strapped type Vanda

Strapped types Vanda produce erect plants with strap shaped broad leaves. The flower has a good texture, thick petals and flower spikes with long stalks. Plants have a 2-2½ months flowering season. Produced less number of inflorescences in the life time compared to other orchids. Therefore, individual cultivations are not profitable, but Dendrobium can be cultivated as a single cultivation.
Ex- Vanda rothschildians, Vanda manilla, Vanda ellen noa

Terete Vanda

The terete Vandas produce erect and the fleshy leaves with more or less cylindrical shape under 100% sunlight. Morning sunlight is very important to produce the flowers. The plant can be grown as an outdoor plant. The support needs to limit up to three feet.  After growing three feet plant bend to the ground. So, it acts as stimulation to blooming of the flowers.
Ex- Vanda agens joaquim

Semi terete Vanda

The Semi terete Vandas produce intermediate flower and leaf characters of strap type and terete type Vanda.

Phalaenopsis

  • Phalaenopsis is included into monopodial type orchids. Therefore, lack of pseudobulbs or similar storage organs
  • Plants consist with short stem cover by fleshy leaves
  • Produce abundance of plump roots
  • They have produced inflorescences consist of a few large moths like flowers
  • They should be grown in medium light about 60-70 % shade level
  • After falling of the flowers in the inflorescence can cut it above a node in the cane then new inflorescence can emerge only in Phalaenopsis

Oncidium

Oncidium commonly calls as “Butterfly Orchids” or – Kandyan dancer. Because it looks like a Butterfly or Kandyan dancer.
  • Produce flat and short pseudobulbs per plant
  • Large flowers with ruffled edges on their petals
  • Colors come in white, yellow, pink, red and maroon

Cattleya

  • The plant consists of 3 to 4 pseudobulbs and each flower stalk originates from a pseudobulb
  • A special character is producing 3 to 4 large, attractive flowers per raceme
  • 4 – 5 years needed to have plantlets
  • Demand and value is very high
  • Vas life of the flower is very low, therefore, minimum usage as a cut flower. most popular as a pot plant

Cymbidium

  • Cymbidium orchid belongs to sympodial and epiphytic growth habits
  • Produce horizontal stem with pseudobulbs
  • They prefer to grow as hanging on branches of trees
  • Also, they prefer a cooler climate to produce flowers
  • The high flowering rate in cold environment

Propagation

The orchids are propagated by sexually and asexually. Mostly, tissue cultured plants are used to produce compost and individual plants commercially.

Sexual propagation

Orchids sexually propagated by seeds. Artificial pollination is practiced to perform the sexual propagation of orchids. After successful pollination, the ovary is enlarged gradually forming the seed pod that contains millions of seeds.
Seeds are contained only the embryo, therefore, needs to be germinated in an artificial nutrient media for raising seedlings. New varieties can be developed through hybridization of two related genera.

Vegetative propagation

Orchids asexually propagated by various kinds of propagules that are produced by plant within their life time. Following parts are used to propagate orchid.

Division

The divisions are produced in sympodial type orchids. When producing many pseudobulbs, they trend to outgrow from the pot. So, removing 2 or 3 pseudobulbs, new plant pots are produced but had to be careful to remain at least 3 – 4 pseudobulbs to the mother plant. If not it will be weakened.
Ex: – Dendrobium, Catteliya, Oncidium

Top cuttings

Top cuttings are produced by removing the top part of the plant, but at least 3 areal roots had to be remaining into the top cutting.

Arial shoots

Most Dendrobiums are producing aerial shoots or pseudobulbes without leaves. Those shoots should be removed from the mother plant and produced several plant pots.

Off shoots

Off shoots are produce by sympodial types, which are produced from the base of the pseudobulbs. Those are separated and planted as a new plant.

Pseudobulbs

Old pseudobulbs of sympodial orchids can be used as propagules. They can be cut into 2 – 3 parts and grow in a sand medium. After 2 – 3 months, new shoots will be raised.

Environmental factors for orchid care

Temperature, Humidity, and light are mainly impact on the production of orchid. So orchid care is difficult with those factors. but we can control them using shade house or giving suitable conditions.

Optimum Temperature for Orchid care

Day temperature 30ºC and night temperature 15ºC are good to produce a good healthy plant and an inflorescence. Especially the 10ºC temperature variation is affected to result in a healthy plant. But, need various temperature ranges for different orchid types.
orchid temperature requirement

Optimum Humidity for Orchid care

75 -80% of humidity level need to be controlled for good growth. If bulbs seem thick in the plant, that indicates moisture level in the medium is good.

Shade

Different shade levels affected to produce a healthy inflorescence according to the type of orchids.
orchid shade requirement percentage
When there is a good shade, heavy green color leaves can be obtained, but the low amount of flowers and succulent plant result. If there are heavy sun light, purple colored sun burning patches results.
orchid fertilizer requirement
After harvesting need to be added a similar ratio fertilizer like 20: 20: 20 (N: P: K). If it required to add water after foliar application, water should be added after 4 hours. Organic fertilizers should be added once a week.
Ex: – Maxsicrop, Agricrop or (use any other suitable one)

Optimum Water application for Orchid care

Better time is to apply water is 8 – 9 a. m. Chlorinated water should not apply, because the quality and color of the flowers may be changed.
Arial roots and leaves should be wet. If water is applied in the evening, it should be done before 4 p. m.

Growing of Dendrobium Orchids & acclimatization of orchid tissue cultured plants

removing agar from orchid plantlets
The tissue cultured seedlings in a glass bottle about one year after sub culturing to develop the roots; those need to be picked out into compot (community pot). The tissue cultured bottles need to keeep for a week out of the laboratory and the seedlings should be taken out with the help of a bent wire, attached medium and dried leaves should be removed. Next they the plantlets need to be washed using water. After that, the remaining agar should be removed by immersing in lukewarm water. Subsequently, seedlings are immersing in a fungicide solution for about 2 min and allow for air drying on papers for about 12 hrs.

Preparation of compot (community pot)  

orhid community pot making
Preparation of compot
After acclimatization of the plantlets, they shoulb be introduced to the 4-inch diameter community pot (compot). The medium should consist with brick pieces1: sand 1: charcoal 1: coir dust 2. All the components required for the medium should be sieved using 2 mm mesh, and then sieved media should be again sieved using 1.5 mm mesh, then the remaining portion on the mesh should be taken for the preparation of media. After mixing the components according to above proportions, it should steam sterilize for about 45 minutes.
The bottom of the compot should be filled by ½ inch brick pieces and then a piece of green net is laid on that, and then fill by the sterilized medium. The air dried orchid plantlets are planted using a hand tool. 30 – 40 plantlets should be planted in one compot.

Two inch plant potting
Preparation of orchid 2-inch pots
Preparation of 2-inch pots
When the compot (compact pot) plantlets reaching up to 2 inches sized, they can be introduced into the 2-inch clay pots which have air pores.
Sterilized threshed coconut chips can be used as the medium for the 2-inch pot. The coconut chips with the size of 2 x 2 inch are obtained by removing the outer layer and they should be steamed sterilize and flatted using a hammer. Then they should be wrapped around the roots of the plantlets and inserted into the pot and plantlets should be fixed to the pot using 2 or 3 charcoal pieces. These plants can be kept in 2-inch pots until they reach up to the height of 5 inches.

Five inch pot planting

Preparation of 5-inch pots for orchid
Preparation of 5-inch pots
Granite chips 1: charcoal 1: chips 1: Coir dusts 1 should be used to prepare the media. They are mixed together and used to fill the pots. Before transferring plants into the 5-inch pots the preparation of pots shoul be done. A Bamboo stick or palm tree stem with a length of 12 inches should be tied to the pot and 3/4 height of the pot should be filled with medium. Then the plant must be dipped in a fungicide solution (Captan or..) and place near to the support, Also use a Sulfur solution to prevent mite damages. The roots of the plant should be covered with medium. The plant is tied to support using a loose knot. When the plantlets in 2 inch pots are reaching to desirable height, they need to be transferred into the 5-inch clay pots. here it is doing it for vanda.

Repotting of Dendrobium

When the orchid plants are growing out of the pots, they need to be repotted again. Tile pieces, coconut pieces and charcoal 1:1 ratio should be used as the potting medium, before repotting the plant, staking should be done as mentioned above to give a support to the plant.
Plants should be uprooted carefully and all the dead leaves and roots must be removed. They are separated into divisions containing 3 – 4 bulbs. The cut surfaces should be treated with a fungicide (Captan or…). Finally, they must be planted in appropriate pots considering the type of plant.

Planting of Phalaenopsis orchids

planting of phalaenopsis orchids
Planting of Phalaenopsis orchids
Phalaenopsis are short stem, epiphytic orchid. They mostly prefer to hang grow on small perforated pots and/or mounted on chunks of tree fern fiber.
Use leaf moulds 1: finus bark pieces 1: meevana bark pieces 1:  mixture as the media. 4-inch pots should be used to transplanting before that plants must be dipped in a fungicide solution.

Planting of Tolumnia

planting of tolumnia orchid
Planting of Tolumnia
Finus pieces 1: Meevana pieces 1: coir dust 1 mixture can be used as above.



Diseases in orchid cultivation and Orchid care

Crown Rot

It is a fungal disease cause by Phytophthora palmivora and it can be observed especially during the rainy season. Water soaked patches on the leaves of the plant can be observed and those patches turn in to brown color. Then the patches are spread to the lower parts of the plant.

o Bacterial rot

Bacterial rot could be seen in the various parts of the plants, and the water soak patches appeared later, the patches become larger and turn in to brown color. Can be used a “Cu” based fungicide to stop the spreading of the disease.

Damping off

Phythium and Sclerotium are causative organisms of the disease and it is affected especially to the small plantlets, beginning from base of the plantlets turns in to brown, beginning from the base of the plantlets turns in to brown and black color and later dying plantlets can be observed as disease symptoms. Overhead irrigation is the major cause for the disease.

o Leaf Yellow Blotch

The causative agent for this disease can be identified as Pseudocercospora dendrobi, and the disease spread fast in rainy season, patches in yellow color can be seen on mature leaves and later, they are turn in to black and leaves are falling.
Pest in orchid cultivation

Spider Mites

Soft bodied insects which fed on the underside of the leaves. Spider mites are red, orange, and even whitish in color. The symptoms of injury can be identified as flecking, discoloration (bronzing) and scorching of leaves. Incidence can be controlled by spraying of 80% Sulpher, Abamectin, Hexythiazox.

Stem Borer

Brownish moth laid eggs on the leaves and hatched larvae bore into the stem and feed on the internal tissues. Tiny, brownish holes can be observed on the pseudobulbs in attacked plants. Those incidences can be identified as a stem borer attack. It could be controlled by spraying of Dizinone like pesticides when the new shoots are forming.

Slugs and Snails

They eat succulent parts of the plants during the night and hide in the medium during day time. Proper sanitation and hand picking should be practiced to minimize the damage and baits containing metaldehyde can be used as a chemical control.

Orchid Yellow Beetle

Lema pectoraalis is 8 mm length beetle and its larval stages damaged to the plant. Beetle and larval stages fed on immature leaves and flower buds. Pesticides such as Imidacloprid can be sprayed as control measures.

Pest in orchid cultivation and care

Spider Mites

Soft bodied insects which fed on the underside of the leaves. Spider mites are red, orange, and even whitish in color. The symptoms of injury can be identified as flecking, discoloration (bronzing) and scorching of leaves. Incidence can be controlled by spraying of 80% Sulpher, Abamectin, Hexythiazox.

Stem Borer

Brownish moth laid eggs on the leaves and hatched larvae bore into the stem and feed on the internal tissues. Tiny, brownish holes can be observed on the pseudobulbs in attacked plants. Those incidences can be identified as a stem borer attack. It could be controlled by spraying of Dizinone like pesticides when the new shoots are forming.

Slugs and Snails

They eat succulent parts of the plants during the night and hide in the medium during day time. Proper sanitation and hand picking should be practiced to minimize the damage and baits containing metaldehyde can be used as a chemical control.

Orchid Yellow Beetle

Lema pectoraalis is 8 mm length beetle and its larval stages damaged to the plant. Beetle and larval stages fed on immature leaves and flower buds. Pesticides such as Imidacloprid can be sprayed as control measures.

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