I am planning a memorial service at our church and would like to have a large orchid arrangement on a 6’ wide by 2’ deep shelf located behind the altar. Is it possible to assemble a single elegant container of this magnitude and fill it with a dozen colorful orchids? Lou S.
Rectangular shaped decorative pots are a commonly stocked item at garden centers and floral shops but are usually measured in inches rather than feet. Even if a six foot wide container were to be located, the difficulty in transporting this museum piece would preclude its use. Since this display is just temporary, all that is really needed is the appearance of a large container.
The key to this project is the use of multiple small square containers that fit together as though they were one. Any number of these pots can be combined to fill the space. In this case, the church shelf comfortably holds about eight square containers which allows for a pair of brass candlesticks on either side.
The orchid plants can be ‘dropped’ in the square containers without disturbing the roots. Like a school picture, the tall plants go in the back and the short ones in front. Dendrobiums and Phalaenopsis stand straight up in the rear while the Cattleyas and Paphiopedilums crouch down. The addition of asparagus fern and Spanish moss finish the look. Dismantling the arrangement is a pleasant experience for each square container full of orchids can be given to those who helped with the service.
I keep hearing orchid hobbyists mention reverse osmosis watering systems. What is that? Claire A.
Reverse Osmosis was developed in the 1950’s as a method of desalinating sea water. Today RO has become a common method of treatment for household drinking water supplies. Sometimes referred to as ‘ultra filtration’, RO is a process by which water molecules are forced through a .0001 micron semi permeable membrane by water pressure. The primary purpose is to reduce levels of naturally occurring substances that cause water supplies to be unhealthy or unappealing such as salt, lead, manganese, iron, calcium.
A typical system is installed under the kitchen sink and consists of 5 components – sediment pre-filter, an RO membrane, a pressurized tank for treated water, carbon absorption post-filter, and a separate treated water tap. The system is not cheap to purchase – starting from several hundred dollars plus installation and spare parts – and there is a lot of wasted water – approx ¾ of inlet water is sent down the drain. Still, in areas of the country where the water supply is compromised, an RO system is the best solution to having usable water.
Water for horticultural use does not have to be as pure as water for drinking but it still must be free from high levels of salts and other harmful contaminants. The orchid hybrids on the market today have been selected for ease of growing and can handle most water supplies. If in doubt about a particular water source, have it tested before spending a lot of money and time.
Is it harmful if dust accumulates on orchid leaves? Amber G.
There have actually been tests conducted on dust-covered roadside plants that show a drop in photosynthesis and transpiration as the leaves are shaded and the stomata plugged. Most indoor houseplants, including orchids, would have to see a sizable accumulation of dust on their leaves before adverse effects were observed. Common methods of cleaning include spraying the tender leaves outside with a water bottle and showering with the plant. A feather duster or wet paper towel will work in a pinch.