Web Sites by Tom

Welcome to my Orchid Pages

Calanthe Orchids | Calanthe Care | Cigar Orchid Photos | Bamboo Orchid Photos
My Orchid Greenhouse | Greenhouse/Shadehouse Irrigation | Orchid Repotting

My father became interested in orchids as a teen, and would collect wild orchids in the woodland hammocks of the Everglades west of Miami. He has kept orchids all his life, and still has a full orchid bench today, along with numerous orchids growing on trees and in planters around his property.

I was never interested in orchids, until I (reluctantly) became caretaker of my buddy Gene's collection around 1990. He had a pretty good assortment of Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis, and Vanda orchids, and I soon found myself spending more and more time with them. I liked having them around, loved watching the roots grow, and felt a real sense of accomplishment each time one put on flowers. When Gene was able to take his orchids back, I decided I needed my own collection.

My own orchid collection

At its peak in 2004, my collection numbered over 500 orchids, the vast majority of which were Calanthe orchids. I had a greenhouse for the terrestrial orchids under a big oak tree, and my other orchids lived on benches and hanging planters under another oak tree, or on my screen porch. Hurricane Charley destroyed the greenhouse and many of my Calanthe orchids and bamboo orchids, but I had put the rest of my orchids indoors, and they survived the storm. They didn't have an easy time after the storm, as I was too busy to give them proper attention, and the hurricane had blown away all the good shady spots. Not wanting to cook them in the blazing August sun, I kept them in deep shade under the porch, with just a little too much sun creeping in each afternoon. Some were unable to adjust to the changed conditions, and died, but many survived.

The oak trees are slowly growing back, but it will be years before I have a shady spot large enough for a greenhouse again, so I took the metal frame from my old greenhouse and covered it with wood lattice and plastic screen to make a new shadehouse for my orchids. It works fine, providing some protection from winter freezes, and a relatively cool, shady spot in the summer sun.

Fertilizing and Irrigating Orchids

I plan to rebuild my irrigation system for automatic orchid watering in the greenhouse soon. I will use sprayers on the hanging planters along the east wall of the greenhouse, and weighted drippers in each pot for the Calanthes, bamboo orchids, cigar orchids, and other terrestrial orchids. I grow all my terrestrial orchids in ProMix BX potting mix.

I fertilize my orchids with water-soluble fertilizers with minor elements, and add Superthrive and epsom salts to the sprayer when mixing the fertilizer. I also use some Osmocote or similar time-release fertilizers on some types of orchids. I occasionally have to use pesticides or fungicides on orchids, but have found that healthy plants are not prone to many problems.

There is no substitute for simply spending lots of time with them, removing dead growth, giving them enough food and water, and catching any problems before they become severe. Many problems can be solved by swabbing the affected area with a Q-tip soaked in rubbing alcohol, others by a quick spray with some diluted soap. I don't bring in the commercial pesticides or fungicides unless ordinary orchid care hasn't solved the problem. The American Orchid Society is an excellent source for orchid growing tips and information about orchid supplies and products. They also have a forum where members can share orchid experiences and seek help in solving problems.

Orchid Photos and Calanthe Care

Please visit my orchid picture gallery and enjoy some photos of orchids that I have collected over the years. You might also want to check out my page on the care of calanthe orchids.

Punta Gorda, Florida