FLOWER SPIKE MANAGEMENT

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You spend a lot of time trying to get flowers. Once they have arrived, for the best display spending some addtiional time will ensure the best display possible. And the best colours. The following notes outlines some of the ways you can optimise the results.
  • As the flower spikes (of cymbidiums, but applies to many other orchids as well) appear, they should be protected by suitable stakes. This helps to ensure they are not accidentally broken off during the handling of the plants. It also enables the spikes to be trained in the form required. Do not just tie the spikes firmly to the stakes unless the plant is being transported, rather just enough to retain it in a satisfactory position, allowing normal growth to continue.

  • It will be obvious that different plants naturally have different spike forms. Some are held erect, some are gracefully arching with others are sharply pendulous. Any staking must allow natural spike form to develop as this generally will produce the most attractive display.

  • As the spikes elongate the amount and direction of light can affect the presentation of the flowers. As the spikes grow, do not move the plant around any more than is necessary until the spike shape is set. This allows the spike to form a natural and more even shape. If the plant is turned around in relation to the light sources, not only will the spike become twisted and misshapen, but the presentation of the individual flowers on the spike will be uneven, producing overall a somewhat unattractive result, and one that will be sure to disappoint. If a plant is moved ensure that it is always returned to the same position; if moved to another site, that it receives similar light conditions, with particular reference to the direction and intensity of light.

  • For even flower distribution and natural spread on spikes, an even light source overall is required. If one side of the plant is shaded and the other receives strong light, the spikes will grow towards the stronger light source. If most of the available light comes from above and little from the sides, longer spikes will be produced than would be usual, often having a growth habit that would not be natural for the plant involved. Unless it is wished to have the flowers all facing the one way, even overall light will give the best results. Imagine the plant growing in its natural environment. It stays in the same place and generally receives even light. Try and provide similar conditions in your growing area for best results.

  • In the manipulation of the spikes, any alteration or training should never take place in the morning. The plant builds up moisture in its tissues during the night, and with the rising sap, the spike will tend to be brittle. When the moisture level falls later in the day, the spike will be more pliable, and will be more easily trained in the manner desired.

  • There is a close relationship between the amount of light received by the plant and flower colour. The requirements of each plant will vary in this regard, and must be considered and adjusted in order that the desired results are obtained. While experience with individual plants is necessary the following general rules apply -

  • Flowers with the stronger red and darker pinks and brighter yellows require bright light during the development of the buds for maximum colour to be produced. Once the flowers are open they should, however, be shaded to stop fading of the colour occurring

  • White, green and pastel coloured flowers should be completely shaded for best results.

  • Green flowers in particular must be heavily shaded at all times for optimum colour to be achieved.

  • As the spikes develop, never peel the sheathing leaves away, or the buds can be seriously damaged. With some orchids, some cattleyas for example, this may be necessary, but should always be approached with caution.

  • Spotting and insect damage to flowers can occur. With lower evening temperatures, humidity will increase, especially after a warm day. Therefore good ventilation and air movement is essential. The use of fans, especially in glass houses during periods of darkness is recommended.

  • Water on some flowers can lead to rapid disfiguration in some cases. Where this is known to occur all overhead watering must be excluded.

  • Keep slug and snail baits about, and the use of a powdered insecticide should eliminate any major problems.

  • Whether taken into your home or to meetings or shows, some attention to some final details will ensure the presentation of the plant and its flowers to best advantage. With may months taken already to flower a plant, taking a few extra minutes now to prepare the plant for exhibition at shows or in your own home is surely well worthwhile.

  • Ensure the pot is clean will all moss, stains, and dirt removed

  • remove any dead leaves, old leaf bases from the pseudobulbs, generally tidying up;the plant overall

  • clean the foliage of old spray residues, dirt, dust etc. Remember when wiping down the foliage to hold the leaves by their bases, and wipe from base to tip. The leaves, especially from the newer growths, can be easily pulled off if care is not. exercised.

  • Ensure the plant is correctly and clearly labeled, with the name of the plant, and the name of the grower if it is put on display at meetings or shows

  • ensure the staking of the spikes is sufficient to hold them during transport and staging at a show or in the home

  • Do not bring a plant in spike into your home before the flowers are fully open. If the night temperatures are above some 14o Celsius this can cause the buds to yellow and fall off once they are fully open this problem does not arise.

  • The plant expends considerable energy in producing the spikes and flowers, and best results will only be obtained if the plant is in good condition and healthy. If there is any doubt concerning the vitality of a plant, the spike should be removed early. It is generally recommended that spikes should be removed some two to three weeks after the last flower on the spike opens. As it takes two to three weeks or so for all the flowers to open, the flowers can be enjoyed on the plant for a reasonable period, before serving further time in a floral arrangement. For a strong plant, spikes can be left longer, as energy is expended to produce the spike and there is likely to be limited drain on the plant with the open flowers just sitting there. If they are pollinated, however, then the drain on the plant will increase considerably.

   
 

   


Site established 9th May 1998