Mounting Orchids

I mounted a cattleya plant to a piece of bark several months ago but it hasn’t attached itself yet. What am I doing wrong? Norman B.
Looking for new uses for pantyhose? I know I am. Adventurous growers who are trying to naturalize their collection (and have a lot of free time) sometimes remove their plants from pots and tie them onto chunks of bark or cork using string, wire, or…. pantyhose. Yes pantyhose. The idea is to get these epiphytes to return to their au naturale state of oneness with the environment – growing on trees. It sounds like a lovely idea…. and just in time for Earth Day!
Unfortunately, this eco-conversion is not a simple matter. Tying the plant onto the bark is the easy part. Getting the orchid to sprout roots that attach themselves to the bark requires some doing. Cattleyas make fresh roots once a year when the new pseudo-bulb develops and to a much lesser extent throughout the year as the old roots get longer or branch. The growing environment must be favorable for root stimulation – and that means high humidity and daily watering – something found regularly in the cloud forests – but not in the living room.
The best chance for success with mounted orchids is found year-round in a greenhouse or summertime in a Virginia backyard. It may take a year of optimum conditions before the orchid is completely attached. Above all else, orchid growing requires patience!

I am building an English Conservatory that overlooks the Chesapeake Bay and I want to fill it with orchids. The 12’ x 18’ glass and aluminum structure is attached to the house and has two rows of multi-level benches and a potting area at the end. There are vents that open automatically if it gets hot. I plan on painting the glass white to provide shading. What other cultural aspects should I consider? John Paul H.
Most orchid hobbyists aspire to this dream problem! Usually though, the orchids are acquired first and outgrow their shared home with people before ‘graduating’ to their very own building.
Designing a brand new orchid collection that resides in a conservatory is both simple and complex. ‘Simple’ in that we are not limited to specific orchid types since all possible growing conditions are available. ‘Complex’ because there are literally thousands of orchids to choose from and we want them to bloom at various times throughout the year. We start by acquiring hybrids from these six major types: Cattleya, Dendrobium, Oncidium, Paphiopedilum, Phalaenopsis, and Vanda. All are relatively easy to grow and commercially available. Most enthusiasts have personal preferences based purely on aesthetics which help narrow things down.
The quantity needed is determined by the area of the benches which in this case is around 150 Sq Ft. An average of one orchid living in one square foot of space is usually comfortable and allows for inevitable future growth. Thus this conservatory could hold 150 orchids.
The two tiered benches permit higher light plants on top (Cattleyas, Dendrobiums, Oncidiums) and lower light below (Paphiopedilums, Phalaenopsis) though care must be taken not to let the Phals get dripped on late in the day. Vandas should be hung above the benches for maximum light and to allow the areal roots to dangle.
The heating thermostat should be set to 65 deg F if Phals are to be grown; otherwise 60 deg F is recommended. It is important to have a circulating fan that runs 24 hours a day as this keeps diseases to a minimum and assists in cooling. A water source inside the structure is helpful as is good drainage in the floor.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008 - 17:45