Our April 2024 meeting was the last before the Suffolk Show on 29/30 May. Could Members please bring plants to our stand in the Floral Tent by about 6pm on Tuesday 28 May, using the entrance down Bucklesham Road. Plants should be clean and well presented, and in black pots if possible. Also, please send to Bill Gardiner in advance a list of the plants you’re bringing so that he can produce standardised labels.

Phil Broom won the ‘Novices Table’ with his Cymbidium Kanga x Western Rose, and Bill Gardiner won the ‘Winners Table’ with his Masdevallia ignea.

The main event of the meeting was a talk by David McLaughlin of the Wisley RHS Garden, entitled ‘Orchid Culture Guides: Cymbidium, Dendrobium, Paphiopedilum – An Introduction’. Sadly, he delivered the talk at a breakneck pace, nineteen to the dozen, and we were too polite to ask him to slow down; and the listening conditions in the hall where we meet aren’t great at the best of times. Although it was exhausting to try to follow the talk, the Webmaster managed to pick out some points here and there, as follows.

David started with some biographical details, then gave us an overview of the orchid house at Wisley and its construction. They maintain a 15°C minimum temperature all the time – some sorts like it, some don’t. They can’t hang things from the roof as it’s not structural. They are trying various terrestrial orchids. There is automatic shading – 70% shade or none. He has had arguments with the management over the water supply for the orchids.

Cymbidiums – are best grown separately from other orchids. Triggers for repotting: the plant is new (to you); it’s reached the edge of the pot (it can be ‘dropped on’); time since last repot; plant seems unhappy. For potting media, use coarse bark/ sphagnum moss/ perlite. Respect the seasons in terms of when to repot, feeding (they are hungry plants) and watering. They need light feeding in winter, otherwise spring growth may be weak.

Dendrochilums – have varied cultural requirements according to the species. There were some remarks on pots vs. hanging baskets. He feeds with Peters Excel, throughout the year as they can flower twice yearly.

Paphiopedilums – culture is dependent on the origin of the species. Although they are terrestrial, the culture medium needn’t be soil. Some like a calcareous growing medium. They can be repotted into the same size pot. There was probably a lot more, but the Webmaster was flagging by this time.