Andrew Bannister of Orchid Alchemy came to our meeting on 25-Oct-23 to give us a talk entitled ‘Tropical Orchids Without Heat’, aimed at both new and established orchid growers. In a wide-ranging presentation, he contrasted the circumstances facing orchid growers today with those of twenty years ago, when heating costs were much lower. But we as growers can adjust to the change, as there are many thousands of orchid species and hybrids with vastly differing cultural requirements, and many of these are cool/cold tolerant – we just need to bear this in mind when we choose what to grow. The juxtaposition of different habitats at different altitudes (e.g. next to a mountain range) can give rise to tropical looking orchids that are cold tolerant – Andrew listed a number of Dendrobium and other species that grow in locations where they experience considerable degrees of frost.  Also, warmer growing orchids can be brought indoors, where they may benefit from domestic heating. Greenhouses can be constructed with good insulation, accurate controls and water barrels or piles of bricks or blocks to increase ‘thermal density’ (thermal inertia). Many orchids will grow in a frost free greenhouse, an unheated greenhouse, or outside. In summary, minimise the space you heat and the temperature that you heat it to, and research potential purchases from higher altitude habitats. There are lots of new and exciting plants coming onto the market, and we could view the current energy situation as an opportunity.

Members were again asked to send their orchid photos to Bill Gardiner (soschair at outlook dot com) so that we can pick five at the November meeting as our entry to for the BOC photographic competition.

This time of year can be a bit sparse for orchid flowers, so it was a pleasure to see the display table that members put together:

John Beavan won the Novices table with his Zygopetalum hybrid, and Bill Gardiner win the Winners table with his Vanda hybrid.