December 22, 2013
It was in the year 2008 that I caught the taste of Orchids while I met some of TOSKAR (The Orchid Society of Karnataka) members who have, out of their passion and craze, made excellent Orchid gardens at Bangalore. Getting inspired and motivated by them, I started growing Orchids in Mangalore. Though I had my first set of plants die due to my ignorance of their requirements for Mangalore weather, I experimented further and was successful in growing them in my style.
I mainly cultivated Dendrobium Orchids, which are the most commercial for their cut flowers while they bloom throughout the year without taking resting period for coastal weather. Dendrobiums need more humidity and in Mangalore, we have good humidity by default. I have grown other varieties for the people who have passion of Orchid garden. Epiphytes Orchids such as Cattleya, Mokkaras, Vandas, Oncidiums, Arenthera, crumenatum, epidendrum and Rhyncostylis and terrestrial Orchids such as Spethoglottis, Paphiopedilum, Cymbidiums, Phaius, Peristeria elata and Ludicia Orchids are in my collection. Dendrobium species that are annually blooming Orchids such as Densiflorum, Formosum, vanda tessellate, Fimbriatum, Superbum and coelogyne etc are also growing in my green house. I have collected these species mainly from the trees of Madikere, Sakleshpur and Chikmagalur. There are some species that are special gifts added to my collection from my customers, friends and well wishers.
I started off with the small scale cultivation and increased the number gradually. Today I have about 1500 Dendrobium Orchid plants. My speciality is that I grow Orchids from their seedling stage. Therefore, the plants are adjusted to our weather and can continue to do well when they are taken away from my garden. I have people approaching me directly for Orchid plants after participating in flower shows organised by DK horticulture department.
The support and encouragement of DK horticulture department and Krishi Sangha is highly momentous. They have given me an opportunity to share my knowledge to the people who have come to learn on Orchids. It has been a great pleasure guiding and teaching on how to grow Orchids in our coastal weather. During these sessions, I have explained thoroughly on rooting pattern, propagating method, pest control, creating artificial humidity and method of supplying nutrients to Orchids. DK horticulture department has considered me as a horticulturist in growing Orchids and have also availed me the Certificate of Registration as seed and plant importer.
Apart from Orchids, I also grow Rosy Adeniums that are commonly known as Desert Roses. I have been importing seeds and grafted plants from Thailand. Adeniums have taken over the demand of rose plants for their showy and colourful flowers that look like roses. These plants are desert oriented therefore need less water, direct sunlight and are easy to maintain in garden.
Guidelines for growing the most common variety (Dendrobium Orchids) in the coastal region are:
• Orchids grow best in east or west windows/garden where it receives just 2-3 hours of morning or evening sunlight. Never expose the plants under direct hot sun since they get exhausted and leaves will suffer from sun burns.
• Orchids need plenty of fresh air for their healthy growth. They need more air around their roots, therefore they cannot grow in hard soil/mud.
• Roots of the Orchid plants should not be allowed to dry out completely. Over-watering can kill the plants. Use pots with adequate holes at the bottom and on sides. Water deposition on crown will lead the crown get rotten.
• Potting mix could be mixture of husk pieces, coal/tile pieces or peat moss. Water stagnation at the bottom will cause the roots to get rotten. Let the roots grow freely out of the pot. Healthy roots will be either silver-shiny grey with brown tip or green in colour.
• Use balanced NPK with the dosage of 3grm/ltr diluted in water sprayed on leaves and roots weekly for the healthy growth and flowering.
• Protect the plants from snails/slugs which chew the flowers, leaves and roots. These pests rarely come out during the day but come out from damp places at night. They often shelter themselves between the roots and keep eating new roots. Therefore, the plant gradually dies. Sprinkle Metaldehyde pellets to control the slugs. Sprinkling ash or salt around the pot (not on plants or roots of plants) is also effective way of controlling them. Flying insects can be controlled by adding 3ml Neem oil along with NPK spray.