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Newbie found new love (Vanda & Catt), need help!

Posted by forapple USDA9 (My Page) on
Wed, Oct 20, 10 at 21:01

Hi all,

I'm pretty new to orchid growing so I'm hoping you could help me. I kept a few phals in the past, but couldn't get them to rebloom, mostly due to the lack of light and too much water. Later I had to let them go.

Two weekends ago I stopped by an orchid shop at my local farmers market to pick up something for my friend who just had a surgery and found that they carry a few Vandas. I was so excited and couldn't resist. The tag on the one I got says V. Pure's Wax 'Violet Blue'. I water and hang it under my covered porch (south facing) before I leave for work and move it inside at night as the seller suggested (except I mist it and then hang it inside the bathroom, hoping doing this would help with the humidity).

Then last weekend I dropped by the same orchid shop again and this time I saw a few Cattleyas and just love how lovely they smell. The seller said it's easier than the Vanda so again one went home with me. The name on the tag is BLC Goldenzelle 'Lemon Chiffon'. The seller said keep it inside and water once a week. Currently, I don't have a good set up yet so I put it on the window sill (north-facing).

Since I've failed in the past, I don't want to kill my new lovely orchids. I started reading and saw the threads about keeping Vanda in a vase which I want to try since it is getting cold outside. I think my main problem is lighting as my only south-facing window is under the cover behind the front porch (you can see from the pics).

http://www.flickr.com/photos/forapple/5097878771/in/photostream/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/forapple/5097878823/in/photostream/

Originally, I wanted to put a table/shelf inside the window and put both of my orchids there but I read that Vandas need a lot of light so I'm afraid that my Vanda might not get enough light. If I add some supplemental lighting here, I'm afraid it won't look good from the outside unless I find something that is really suitable. Another option I'm thinking is to put the shelf by another wall (no windows) but I need to find a good lighting solution that will provide enough light for both orchids and also make the whole set-up presentable as it is our living room.

So, my questions are...

1. Would the Vanda get enough light if I put it on a table inside the window (option 1)? To make the matter worse, the table needs to be another 6' in from the wall in order to be able to close the draps. More distance = weaker light. If I go with this one and need light, I'm leaning towards track light. If someone uses this kind of setup please kindly share a pic and tips?

2. If I go with the 2nd option, I will definitely need lighting suggestions. I saw threads about growing light (105-watt CFL?). Do they require special socket? Can I use them with some regular desk/floor lamp/track light? How many bulbs do I need? I don't like the look of the T5 or T8 in the living room. Ideally, I would like to get something that is energy efficient.

3. I would love to keep my new collection in the same place, can one of those options accommodate both the Vanda and the Catt?

4. I think I should still put my Vanda outside in the summer, I'm also wondering how low the temp it can handle? This week it has been in the 50s, is this too low?

5. I would like to get another Catt to put in my office at work. I noticed that my office ceiling has 3 fixtures with 2 T5 bulbs each (I googled the bulb specs, they are 28 watt, 3500K, 2900 lumens, CRI 82). They are a bit far from my desk so if I add a regular desk lamp with maybe CFL would it be enough?
6. I saw somewhere about putting a stick to check the moisture in the pot (for the Catt), how do I know when to water it? Currently I just let the water run through it for a few mins (no dunking), is this enough? Is once a week enough?

Sorry for a long post and so many questions. I know the lighting is not an easy topic, but I'm hoping all the experts here could help me so I won't kill my orchids before I finish all the reading and figuring things out myself :)

Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Newbie found new love (Vanda & Catt), need help!

Can't answer your questions right now, ready for bed but want to tell you that you made good choices. Blue Vandas are tough and temp tolerant and the Blc Lemon 'Chiffon' is a great classic.

Does that shop have more of the Blcs and how much are they?

Nick


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RE: Newbie found new love (Vanda & Catt), need help!

Welcome to the forum, and it's great that you've found some orchids that you really enjoy!

Vandas and Cattleyas are high light orchids, and require several hours of very bright to direct sunlight to bloom and thrive. They can be grown together, if you can find/create a warm bright area in your house.

When it comes to artificial lighting, it's important to realize that while a light might seem bright to our eyes, the actual light levels may not be sufficient for a plant. a 100W compact fluorescent bulb screwed into the ceiling can probably light up a reasonably sized room, but to a plant on the floor, it's in complete and absolute darkness. I've seen countless light setups where the lights are just too far from the plants to actually have any effect at all.

I grew and bloomed some cattleyas under compact fluorescent bulbs, and the bulbs were placed only 4 inches away from the leaves. Granted, this was in the absence of any natural light. In your office, the regular desk lamp may work if you put the CFL directly above the plant, within a few inches of the leaves.

Compact fluorescent bulbs will typically fit into regular light sockets. It depends on the base of the bulb - just ensure that it is a medium base and not a mogul base. The socket itself is equipped to handle up to 660 watts.

Watering frequency depends on how dry your environment is - the once a week rule might fare well in moderate climates, but wouldn't work in the desert in Arizona (dry), nor would it work in the middle of the Amazon (humid). The stick in the pot is a good way to measure how fast your media is drying. Put the stick in the pot to the bottom, and periodically take it out. If it's cool and damp, then your media is still moist. If it's dry, then it might be time to water again.

Generally dunking is preferred as you saturate the medium uniformly. Personally I've found that it's more critical in dry environments where you want to make sure everything is evenly moistened.

I see you are in a relatively warm zone - it's possible to grow these outside and just bring them in when there's cold weather. What I'd give to be able to do that! I'm not sure though, and someone from your area can probably comment more extensively on local growing conditions and practices.

Hope that helps!


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Note

Just to note - some sockets might not be able to handle 660volts although most ones you can find in hardware stores can. Make sure you check this before putting on a bulb! I also would probably not go higher than 105W on one of those regular medium base sockets.


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RE: Newbie found new love (Vanda & Catt), need help!

Thanks Calvin & orchidnick, I just ran into them by chance and fell in love instantly. When I got them, had no idea how to take care of them but I only wished that they are not too difficult :)

orchidnick, the Vanda was $30 and the Lemon Chiffon was $20, they are very good size. I don't know the normal going price on these. The seller also has some pink Catts which I got one for my friend but I didn't see the name. If I know how to pack it, I could send you one :)

I'm looking at some lux meters and I think I might have to invest in one of those and maybe the indoor/outdoor weather station to check temp and humidity. It would be great if I could leave them outside but I still don't know how to handle the humidity issue for the Vanda. That's why I wanted to try the vase method but it might not be suitable for outside application.


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RE: Newbie found new love (Vanda & Catt), need help!

When using the "stick" method, or skewer method, get a shishkabob or bamboo skewer from the grocery store. Trim it down and keep it in the medium. When you think the plant needs water, take out the skewer and touch it to your cheek, lip, or the back of your hand. For a cattleya, if its dry it's time to water. If it's damp or wet, wait. How wet or dry the skewer is before you water will depend on the needs of the particular orchid. Cattleyas like to dry out before being watered again, whereas Phals like to be almost dry.


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RE: Newbie found new love (Vanda & Catt), need help!

Calvin, I forgot to ask, how many bulbs do you need for one plant? I see most of the desk lamps only have one socket but I think this will be my solution for keeping a Catt at work. At home there is still an issue. Ideally I would love to put them by the window so they can get some natural light too but hubby doesn't like the idea of putting lights there as people/police can see through the window and will think that we are growing marijuana... LOL... If I hang the lights too high then they don't do anything.

orchid126, thanks for the great details on using the stick. It's very helpful. I have a pack of the bamboo skewers, I will start using it today.


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RE: Newbie found new love (Vanda & Catt), need help!

A good sizewd 'Lemon Chiffon' for $20 is a good deal. Thje reason I'm asking is I'm looking for one. Can you give me the name of the vendor.

Nick


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RE: Newbie found new love (Vanda & Catt), need help!

It is just a small stand at my local farmers' market so I don't know if they have a real shop anywhere but seems like they just sell the orchids part-time on the weekends. I want to buy another one for work so I will ask them this weekend.


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RE: Newbie found new love (Vanda & Catt), need help!

Nick,

So I found out that my orchids are from Rose Mae Orchids, they are in Daily City but have a nursery in Half Moon Bay where my Vandas and Cattleyas came from. They stil have more "Lemon Chiffon" left and I got one more myself :)

BTW, I saw your old post about wrapping Vanda with Spanish Moss, I wanted to ask how your experiment went.


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RE: Newbie found new love (Vanda & Catt), need help!

They seem to like it and I am doing it with all Vandas and any other bare-root orchid who has a rambling, all over the place root system. One needs to inoculate a plant with only very little moss, it then grows right into the system and looks like it belongs there.

It's easy to control, if the moss gets to be too much, I just pull a handful off and throw it on some other orchid.

Nick


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RE: Newbie found new love (Vanda & Catt), need help!

Nick,

Could you please shares a few pics? from different stages would be great. I would like to try this too, I think it will be good for the summer, I can't run home in the middle of the day to mist them. I just have to find a place that sells this moss.

Thanks!


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RE: Newbie found new love (Vanda & Catt), need help!

No pics, way beyond my computer capacity. This moss is tough, no need to run home and mist it. If you want some, email me and I'll send you a starter bundle.

Nick


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RE: Newbie found new love (Vanda & Catt), need help!

Thanks so much, Nick. I will try around here first and if I can't find it any where I may email you. Thanks again!

Apple


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RE: Newbie found new love (Vanda & Catt), need help!

There are 3 types. One is real fine haired, the other 2 are green and bluish-green. I don't know their names but you want the bluish-green type it seems to work best. All are called Spanish moss, the good one is the commonest one as far as I know. Of course it's not really moss but a tangle of succulents.

Good luck, Nick


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RE: Newbie found new love (Vanda & Catt), need help!

This tells you all you want to know about 'Tillandsia usneoides' but are afraid to ask.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_moss

Nick


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RE: Newbie found new love (Vanda & Catt), need help!

Thank you for the link and the tip on the color. I never see a live one so this is very helpful.

On Wikipedia, it says snakes like to live in the moss. Yikes! I hope they don't make their way to my plants. Snakes make my hair stand on end! :-)

Thanks,
Apple


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RE: Newbie found new love (Vanda & Catt), need help!

I love snakes, killed a good sized rattler once in Arizona. Tasted like chicken when we broiled it.

Nick


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RE: Newbie found new love (Vanda & Catt) Moss, need help!

The only other thing about this moss is that if it likes you it won't be long before you'll be supplying others with starter samples and/or throwing it away. It grows like a weed. On the other hand if it doesn't like your conditions, it won't grow. If there is none in collections around your area the latter may well be the case. Try it anyway, don't hesitate to send me your addy, I throw the stuff away.

Nick


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RE: Newbie found new love (Vanda & Catt), need help!

I only ate alligator meat once or twice and it tasted pretty good but I'm still scared of snakes. I might be able to eat it if I didn't know what it is :)

One place told me over the phone that they have the moss but I didn't have a chance to go get it yet. I hope they didn't mean the dried one.

Are you still interested in the "Lemon Chiffon"?


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RE: Newbie found new love (Vanda & Catt), need help!

Found it locally, thank you.

Nick


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