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GrowinG and handlinG cut flower orchids in te solomon islands

GrowinG and handlinG cut flower orchids in the solomon islands

A Pictorial Guide


Produced by Koko Siga (Fiji) Ltd. and South Sea Orchids with funding assistance provided by

AusAID’s Community Sector Program. Contacts for authors: Don and Aileen Burness: sso@connect.com.fj Kyle Stice: kylestice@hotmail.com Š Copyright 2009

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contents Know your orChIDS............................................................................................................ 5 Vanda ......................................................................................................................................... 6 Arachnis...................................................................................................................................... 7 Dendrobium .............................................................................................................................. 8 PoPulAr Cut flower orChIDS In the Solomon ISlAnDS ............... 9 GrowInG teChnIqueS for PeoPle who wAnt to Sell theIr Cut flower orChIDS ..................................................... 11 Vanda and Arachnis .............................................................................................................................. 11 Planting ....................................................................................................................................... 11 Maintenance............................................................................................................................... 14 Feeding ........................................................................................................................................ 15 Pest .............................................................................................................................................. 15 Dendrobium .......................................................................................................................................... 16 Planting ....................................................................................................................................... 16 Maintenance............................................................................................................................... 17 Feeding ........................................................................................................................................ 17 Pest .............................................................................................................................................. 17 hArveStInG orChIDS .......................................................................................................... 18 When to Harvest – Vanda, Arachnis, Dendrobium ........................................................... 18 How to harvest......................................................................................................................... 19 After harvest care .................................................................................................................... 19 Handling and Transportation.................................................................................................. 20

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Know your

orchids The Solomon Islands has a wonderful range of orchids that can be used as cut flowers. This handbook will focus on orchids from three main generas; Vanda, Arachnis and Dendrobium.

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Vanda Vanda orchids are not planted in the soil but must have their stems anchoured in a media. Vanda orchids like to have their roots growing in the air In the Solomon Islands mainly only full sun Vanda orchids are grown for the cut flower markets. More exotic Vanda orchids with wider leaves are grown in semishade.

Vanda Amy Full sun

Vanda TMA Semi-shade

how to recognise a vanda orchid – Most of the Vanda orchids grown in the Solomon Islands for the cut flower market have leaves that look like a pencil.

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arachnis Like the Vandas, Arachnis orchids are not planted in the soil but like their roots growing in the air. Most people refer to Arachnis orchids as ‘spider orchids’ because the flowers resemble a spider.

All Arachnis orchids grow in full sun for maximum flowering.

how to recognise an Arachnis orchid

Arachnis orchids have a more ‘true leaf’ that grows one on top of the other.

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dendrobium Dendrobium orchids need to grow on something eg. a tree or post, that is well off the ground. If Dendrobium orchids are planted like Arachnis or Vandas their roots will rot.

how to recognise a Dendrobium orchid

Dendrobium orchids grow very differently to Vandas and Archanis. Vandas and Arachnis have STEMS which will grow very tall. Dendrobiums have CANES that will only grow to a certain length and then flower.

Canes

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Popular cut flower orchids in the Solomon Islands Vandas Solomon Island common name: Common vanda International name: vanda agnes Joaquin

Solomon Island common name: monkey face International name: Common name:vanda Amy

Solomon Island common name: Big white International name: vanda Diana 9


arachnis

Solomon Island common name: yellow Spider International name: Arachnis maggie oei

Solomon Island common name: Pink Spider International name: Arachnis maggie oei red ribbon

dendrobium Dendrobium orchids in the Solomon Islands that are suitable as cut flowers still need to be investigated.

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e:

Growing techniques for people who want to sell their cut flower orchids Vanda and arachnis Planting

type of cutting - A top cutting should be used with atleast 3 aerial roots. Cutting should be cut on an angle with the base clean of aerial roots and leaves up to 15cm.

Good Vanda cutting

Good Arachnis cutting

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orchid bed - Bed should be 1 meter wide with an appropriate length (maximum 5 meters). Walls of bed can be supported by timber, stone or block depending on what is available. If materials are short, beds can be formed by carefully stacking planting media to achieve a height of 30 cm. Posts of about 40 cm should be put in the corners and in the middle of the orchid bed. Scrap timber or wire should be nailed to the posts to stop plants from falling out

30cm

5m 40cm

1m

media - Should be a mixture of coconut husk, leaf litter and rocks. Animal manure can also be added for extra feeding of orchids.

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1-2 year old coconut husks should be used in the media. If fresh coconut husks are to be used than they should be soaked in water to remove the tannins ‘blood’. Chop coconut husk into three pieces to help with aeration in the media.

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Cuttings should be placed 15 cm apart within the bed. The closer the planting the more they hold each other up.

In this system the orchid cuttings should flower very quickly at a low height.

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Maintenance Keep bed and media free of all other plants as other plants take food away from the orchids. The clover left to grow over orchid beds in the Solomon Islands does more harm than good and should be removed and replaced with more media.

Incorrect

correct

When orchid plants grower higher than the posts and produce three or more aerial than they should be cut and replanted. 14

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Feeding Keep Vanda and Arachnis orchid plants low for maximum flowering

Your orchids will get most of their food from the planting media, for this reason it is important to try and add manure at planting and twice a year if it is available. Do not use NPK granular fertiliser because you will burn the roots of your plants. If you want to buy a fertiliser than you can use a liquid orchid food diluted to about one teaspoon to the gallon.

Pests You could have problems with thrips or mites in your orchids which will damage the flowers. To control these bugs you must use a systemic insecticide. Always follow the instructions on the bottle when using these chemicals. Scales can also be a problem on your orchids and will damage the leaves and stems of your plants. To control these bugs you can use soapy water applied all over the plants to suffocate the bugs. There are also chemicals such as white oil or conqueror that can be purchased and used to control scales.

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dendrobium Planting - Dendrobium orchids need to grow on something e.g. a tree or post,

that is well off the ground. If Dendrobium orchids are planted like Arachnis or Vandas their roots will rot. Orchids should be attached to the stump using wire or u-nails while the roots are getting established.

Do not cover the roots with anything, leave them exposed to the air.

An open tree in your hard (such as a frangipani) is a suitable place to attach a Dendrobium orchid. A mango tree is not suitable because the orchid will not get enough light. 16

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If you want to plant a large amount of Dendrobium orchids in a small place than a row system can be used. Simply place hardwood logs or tree fern stumps ½ meter apart and ½ meter high. One orchid should be placed on each stump.

Maintenance Established Dendrobiums do not require much work. Just ensure that there are no weeds growing on them.

Feeding Dendrobiums get most of their food from the air and rain water that washes down the tree or stump. Therefore your plants will grow fine with no additional fertiliser. If you want to increase the growth and flowering you can buy liquid orchid fertiliser. Plants will grow more vigorously if you apply a high nitrogen (N) orchid food. Plants will give you more flowers if you apply a high potassium (K) orchid fertiliser. These two fertilisers should be applied alternately every month. This fertiliser should be applied to the whole plant.

Pests Dendrobiums have a special pest called the ‘borer’ which can be a major problem. You can tell you have the borer if the canes of the orchid start to rot. To control this bug, you must use a systemic insecticide (this same insecticide will also control mites and thrips).

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Harvesting Orchids when to harVest

Vanda Vandas should be harvested when blooms are still fresh and have full colour. Depending on how many blooms you have you should aim to harvest when 1-2 of the blooms are still closed. If your orchid only has 2-3 blooms than you must harvest when they are still fresh and in full colour.

Arachnis Arachnis orchids should be harvested when 1-2 blooms are still closed. An Arachnis orchid with all of the blooms open will not last as long for the customer.

Dendrobium Dendrobiums should be harvested when 1-2 blooms are still closed.

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how to harVest Orchids should be harvested in the early morning or late afternoon because the stem will break easily at this time. Orchids should be harvested by breaking the stem at the closest node to the plant. Do not use cutters when harvesting orchids off the plant. This will spread disease.

after harVest care After harvesting cut the stem on an angle at the base with a sharp cutter. Orchid stems should be placed immediately into a bucket of fresh water. Only let the stems sit in water and not the blooms. The bucket of flowers should be placed in the shade. If you want your flowers to last a long time than you can add bleach to the bucket of water. One tablespoon of bleach for every gallon of water is sufficient.

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handlinG and transportation Orchids should be handled and transported very carefully to avoid damage to flowers. It is no good looking after your flowers in the garden for several months or years only to have them damaged on the way to the customer. Types of damage include; bruising, creasing or breaking of petals or entire blooms. Damaging your flowers is the same as throwing away money because people do not want to buy damaged flowers. The best way to transport your orchids is to wrap the stems in wet newspaper and place them in a box of shredded paper. When you arrive at the market the stems of the flowers should immediately be placed in fresh water.

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Orchid Handbook