This time each year on the gardening calendar, I visit a growing nursery where my favourite winter plants are grown en masse.
I love Cymbidium Orchids; their amazing colours, long, strappy green leaves and the long spires of flower spikes shooting above the green growth.
I wander through the thousands of cymbidiums being grown, wishing I could take one of each colour home.
The beauty of this orchid is its longevity and its exceptional performance inside during winter, although after it finishes blooming, it will need a sheltered spot outside on a patio or even to be planted in the garden in a shady position.
In fact, my father-in-law grew his orchids totally outside in Mayfield, where they were probably subjected at that time to fallout from BHP and other industries. It shows how tough they are; they thrived and each winter I waited (somewhat impatiently) to be given some of the beautiful sprays or occasionally, on loan, a pot in bloom.
The Maitland and Newcastle Orchid Societies are most obliging with their help with repotting and cultivation. Soon they will be having orchid shows; keep an eye out as they are most informative. Until then, my simple instruction is when the pot fills with bulbs, repot into a larger pot.
This way they will produce more blooms next year.
A little more technical tip is to increase stocks by division. This involves selecting a plant that has outgrown its container, splitting the rhizome so that each part retains at least three healthy pseudobulbs, cutting out any dead roots and potting up with the oldest bulb against the rim.
See an orchid grower for assistance.
The orchid family is huge – I once had a Stanhopea, given to me by a kind customer. This amazing orchid needs to be grown in a hanging basket using a fibrous liner as the flowers emerge from the bottom of the plant. The perfume is amazing.
Phalaenopsis Orchids have become popular, imported and sold cheaply in chain stores.
They are also lovely but need a well-lit spot inside and cultivated properly they will be rewarding, but not as dramatic as my favourite Cymbidiums.
- Lightly prune hedges before it gets any colder.
- Start disbudding Japonica camellias, which will begin to bloom towards the end of winter. This merely means removing one or two buds where there are large clusters, leaving a couple to open.
- Time to cut watering back on houseplants, especially fig varieties, such as Benjamina and Ficus lyrata. The exceptions are ferns, which may require more moisture in heated rooms.