Micks Masdevallias

Growing Guides

So How Do I Grow Masdevallia Orchids Here In The UK?

Temperature

Masdevallias grow in cooler temperatures than most other orchids, different species require different degrees of coolness, so do a little research on your species or hybrid before you add it to your collection, if your new to growing Massies try a Hybrid first these seem much easier to grow then the species

The Book guides say
Cool: 10℃ at night and Maximum 20℃ days
Intermediate: 13℃ nights and Maximum 23℃ days
Warm 16℃ nights and Maximum 26℃ days

For all try to ensure a 6-12℃ difference between day and night temperatures which is the key to make them flower. I personally drop my temperatures down by 5℃ at night, they do not like high temperatures and I try and keep mine under 28℃ in the summer months I find 22℃ is the ideal range but without the fans it would be a struggle, mine is now all controlled with a hydrostat which is set for the evaporated cooler to come on at 25℃. and my humidistat is connected to my fogger system which is set at 80%.

 

During the summer of 2018 my greenhouse reached approximately 37℃ on a couple of days which resulted in me losing a couple of my divisions which made me realise I needed to make drastic changes to my growing environment, these are shown in a video on my YouTube channel. Temperature and climate control can be achieved with the right equipment, time and patients.

My own greenhouse heater is thermostatically controlled now and is set during the winter months to a minimum of 10℃ but during the day I use natural solar gain, but I have a frost protector which kicks in once the temperature reaches 8℃. Just an additional precaution.

Tip! Good ventilation in the greenhouse is essential, regular air changes and air movement can be achieved by opening doors and vents during the summer months remember to use a fly screen for pests.

 

In their natural environment these plants grow in very shaded areas with around 1200 foot-candles. so be careful in the summer months not to over expose your plants to the bright light of the sun. I use shade cloths on the external south facing windows of my greenhouse and 75% shade netting on the roof these small measures will greatly reduce not only excessive light but will also help control the heat.

Watering

Like all orchids, Masdevallias like clean water, I started off using rain water but soon realised I had to store it and also ensure I had plenty in reserve, I then looked into obtaining a Reverse Osmosis system and have never looked back, and are now priced at a reasonable cost, however I’ve heard some growers use distilled water again that’s their choice.

In summer I water early in the morning, and have a three-week cycle with my fertiliser, seaweed extract and Cal-Mag

I use and this is my preference only, so not telling you to use it, but I find Akernes Rain-Mix has all the beneficial nutrients my plants need, so why would I change., and I also use it at the recommended strength, I know some growers use ¼ or ½ strength.

I find that during the growing season Seaweed extract helps with root growth and as an additional treat I give them Cal-mag once a month. I use a spray pump action mister for watering this is my preferred method, this way I control how much water I’m giving them and at the end of my cycle flush using this sprayer. Remember Thick heavy leafed plants prefer a little dryness at the roots, thin leafed varieties do not, one of the most common mistakes beginners make is over watering so be cautious and if unsure hold back an extra day, this I know for sure having been a little heavy handed myself when I first started.

Once temperatures begin to start cooling off at the start of Autumn and through the winter months, I greatly reduce watering (depending on your environment) to about twice a week you will soon get to know when the plant requires watering.

Potting Mix

My preferred potting mix is small bark, perlite with a small amount of charcoal, I personally found that sphagnum moss holds an incredible amount of water and my massies were continually wet, so I decided on my mix. But remember if you’re having good success with your mix don’t change!

Recommended reading.

 

Masdevallias Gems of The Orchid World by Mary E. Gerritsen and Ron Parsons

Thank you for reading my growing guide and I hope you found it useful.

So How Do I Grow Dracula Orchids Here In The UK?

The name Dracula means “Little Dragon” because of the strange aspect of the two long spurs of the sepals which are found on most species also commonly known as the Monkey Orchid due to monkey like face on the blooms. Dracula orchids used to be part of the Masdevallia Genus but were separated in 1978 to form their own genus and becoming part of the Pleurothallids Genera.

The care I provide my Dracula’s is very similar to my Masdevallia orchids, the majority of Dracula orchids grow there flower spikes downward (descending from the plant) or Horizontal from the base of the plant, so ideally should be grown in open basket pots, ideally allowing the flower spikes to protrude through the basket or alternately they can be mounted on cork bark or open wooden baskets, which provides a wonderful display.

I prefer to grow mine in basket pots , My media well to be totally honest I use Sphagnum moss because these should not be allowed to dry out, water regularly during the summer months as early as possible in the morning obviously reduced in the winter months, regular inspections will show when spikes are forming and at this point I hang the plant up to allow the spikes to progress, and hopefully Bloom.

 

I keep the humidity at 70% throughout the year similar to Masdevallia other growers recommend a higher humidity of about 90% but I find this more difficult to control as my greenhouse is set for my Masdevallia, Dracula orchids also come from the cloud forests primarily Central & South America, again good air circulation is necessary to have success with this type of orchid, so again my fans are on constantly on 24/7.

They require low light levels, so grow them in a good shaded position in your environment, 1000-1500 foot candles works well, it is important to remember, to be successful that these plants are protected from direct sunlight “similar to count Dracula” so your growing environment must have a reasonable amount of light, but not direct sunlight.

Temperature should be below 20℃ or 68℉, remember these are cool growers so will require a night time drop of between 6-8 ℃ or 10-15℉, these plants will dry out very quickly if your temperatures are too high.

During the active growing season, I feed my Dracula weekly with my preferred fertilizer from early spring till late summer.

My growing techniques may not suit your environment due to your location, where you grow your plants, and the amount of time you devote to their care. Only then can you decide on your methods that suit you and your plants.

 

Thank you for reading my growing guide and I hope you found it useful.

How To Grow Cymbidium Orchids

Another Cool Growing orchid is the Cymbidium, and undoubtable one of the easiest orchids to Grow and will flower year after year. These orchids are often referred to as “The Boat Orchid” Pronounced (sym-BID-ee-um) it has large flowers, with a patterned lip and can be in bloom for up to 10 weeks.

Cymbidium’s are found naturally growing in China, Japan across the Himalayas, through Asia to Australia. There are two main types of cymbidium, standard and Miniature.

I only have a couple of cymbidiums and I’ve found that they need a lot of light and low temperatures, and I only keep them in my greenhouse during the Autumn & winter months to protect them from frost. Once the last frost has gone at the end of spring, I put them back outside in a shaded position to prevent leaf burn and overheating from the sun’s rays this is where they remain all summer long.

 

In my greenhouse I keep them in a cool area low down (standing on the floor) and keep them between 10-15℃ until I see a flower spike forming, then I move them to a warmer spot of about 20℃ if you keep them too warm you may find the flowers are short lived.

Cymbidiums usually flower from the end of Autumn through to Spring.

How do I water and feed my Cymbidiums? I water weekly all year round if needed using Reverse Osmoses water and feed every week during the spring and summer with my chosen fertilizer at ½ strength.

Tip! Some growers recommend using a tomato fertilizer (potassium feed) weekly during August and September at a ¼ strength to encourage Flowering. I’ll give this a go and let you know.

 

Remember do not let your cymbidium dry out completely, so if your growing outside check regular and also do not let them become water logger during heavy rain falls.

Tip Never fertilize when your orchid is dry, as this can seriously damage the roots!

The best time to re-pot a cymbidium is when they are becoming root-bound in their current pot and should be done in early spring after flowering, at this time you can cut away any dead roots trying not to disturb the root ball too much. Older plants can be split at this time, so look for natural divisions and divide into new separate plants with three to five pseudobulbs on each division, you may well need a good pair of secateurs or a sharp knife, sterilised of course.

So what medium do I use for my cymbidiums?

I use a mixture of chunky Bark, peat and perlite this is to help with drainage. I personally use clay pots to help with faster drying as cymbidiums prefer dryer conditions.

When repotting I always allow for new growth and never over pot, these plants always do well when they are contained, so leave just enough room for the following two years growth.

After repotting I hold back on watering for a couple of weeks and just mist to moisten with a hand sprayer.

Tip! Remember to ventilate your greenhouse whenever the weather permits.

 

I find that the humidity level required is between 40-60% in the winter at this time your orchid may be in bud, if you have higher humidity levels you will require a good amount of air movement to prevent any type of orchid disease.

Tip! Another piece of advice from local growers who specialise in cymbidiums is to give a few doses of Epsom salts one table spoon to 10 Litres of water during the growing season.

 

I hope this growing guide helps other beginners like myself,
Happy Growing and thanks for viewing this site.

How To Grow Phalaenopsis Orchids

Phalaenopsis, (pronounced fal-ee-nop-sis) from the Greek word meaning Moth, is probably one of the best known orchids and is usually the one collectors start with, at some point in our lives we’ve all had or seen a phalaenopsis orchid either a present for “Mother’s day” or as a gift of thanks, and in the orchid community is known as “the beginner’s orchid” due to its availability throughout the world, reasonably priced, and beautiful long lasting blooms, and should be relatively easy to keep, but are they? This simple guide should help you care for your new orchid, the Phalaenopsis has become one of the most popular orchids and can be found in most homes. So, in this guide I will share with you the basic care required to have success with Phalaenopsis the common name by the way is the” Moth” Orchid.

Phalaenopsis plants are native to South India, southern China to Taiwan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Myanmar, the Philippines, and northern Australia. Phalaenopsis orchid natural habitat is a moist forest where the temperatures are warm all year round and the humidity is quite high.

 

In its native environment the Phalaenopsis has adapted to surviving from drawing water from the humidity in the air, that’s why it continues to grow aerial roots.

This basic guide should help new growers have reasonable success with Phalaenopsis orchids, so let’s get started!

Light

Avoid direct sunlight, never place your orchid in direct sunlight as they burn very easily, they prefer a medium to bright (indirect) light. If leaves start to turn yellow or splotchy, your plant is getting too much light, too little light will result in your leaves becoming soft and floppy. An east or west facing windowsill is ideal, preferably behind a net curtain.

Temperature

Because of their wild origins, they like a minimum temperature of 20°C (68°F) although adult plants grow happily at 15°C (60°F) and actually flower better after a few weeks at this lower night time temperature in autumn. Chilly night-time temperatures or drafts can cause flowers and buds to blast or even drop off.

Water

Water Phalaenopsis about once a week: Avoid plain tap water, its laden with impurities, use natural rain water or R.O water, it’s also best to allow the potting mix / media to almost dry out between watering’s. Check the medium with your finger – if you feel moisture do not water, if the medium feels dry water it. Do not stand your orchid in a saucer of water.

Tip! daily misting with a spray bottle full of water will help if your growing in the home, spray the leaves and aerial roots, this also helps with the humidity.

Remember Roots that are green are getting just the right amount of water, Roots that are brown and soggy looking are getting too much water, Roots that are grey/ silver are getting ready for water.

Fertilizer

Feed at one-quarter strength of your preferred fertilizer, this can be one of the biggest challenges to the beginner, I use a pour-through method when fertilising, I mix my feed with my water and use a jug either over a bucket or over the sink and pour over the pot, ensuring I do not get water in the crown of the plant, you will see the roots start to turn green this is a sign that they are hydrated. I feed my Phalaenopsis once a month during the growing season but I know some growers feed weekly again that’s your own preference, just remember they need feeding!

Growth

Phalaenopsis Orchids can double in size in a year with the correct growing conditions, regular care and above all patients. I try to give mine a cooler, dryer rest during the autumn, so I move them further away from the light and put them on a north facing window for about 2 months and reduce the amount of water I give them.

Blooming

Your Phalaenopsis will bloom about 3 times a year and last from a few weeks to about 3 months, most people acquire a Phalaenopsis when it is in bloom from a garden centre, specialist nursery or nowadays even a local supermarket. The latter is where you can find a bargain now and again, supermarkets tend to reduce the price when the blooms are fading, most collectors see this opportunity to grow their collections and buy at a reduced rate and grow the plant on during the growing season. There are two methods: Firstly you could cut the flower stem off all the way back, to allow the plant to rebuild new roots and leaves which will support next year’s blooms my preferred way, or secondly some people cut above a node on the stem (see pic above) and hope to get another bloom before winter (forced), this has proven to work but in my opinion drains the plant of energy which is needed for next year’s blooms.

Repotting

When the potting media starts to break down, smells a little bit like mushrooms, its time to repot or when the plant becomes root-bound, then the Phalaenopsis needs a fresh start, most growers repot between 18 to 24 months without fail.

What media do I use? No doubt your store-bought orchid is in sphagnum moss or coconut husk being mass produced for UK sales. I use a chunky bark and a perlite mix when repotting to ensure good drainage around the roots, but again use what your confident with and what’s given you success in the past, don’t follow others if your happy with what you do, remember these are only guides not growing instructions.

Tip! Each spike on a Phalaenopsis will have at least a few nodes going up the spike prior to the blooms. Each of these nodes bears the potential to branch either during or after the initial bloom. If the decision is made to allow the orchid to branch on a spike, cut the spike off directly above a node see picture above.

I hope you found this basic guide useful.
A more in-depth guide is being prepared check back soon.
Happy Growing!

How To Grow Disa Orchids

Disa’s orchids are terrestrial orchids which are found naturally growing on Table Mountain in South Africa. The conditions which they experience in the wild are quite harsh and this gives us the clue as to how they should be cultivated. In their natural habitat they grow by streams and in water run off areas with their roots in water and are constantly wet.

I grow my disas in pots which I stand in trays filled with RO water, rainwater can also be used. They are potted in a compost mix of 60% sphagnum peat moss and 40% perlite, I use a one litre jug for measuring, so 6 jugs of peat moss and 4 jugs of perlite, I have had very good results with this mix, however, they can also be grown in pure long fibre sphagnum moss.

Water Quality

Water Quality is vitally important to your Disa orchids. They will not tolerate hard or chlorinated water. Suggested methods of watering should be done from the top of the pot allowing the water to run throw the plant and out of the bottom. Ideally early in the morning during summer.

Feeding

Do not overfeed your disa orchids, a very weak feed is suitable during the growing season. I feed once a month, with orchid “Rain-mix” fertilizer, over feeding your disa could kill the plant! they do not like high levels of salts. Do not add the fertilizer to the water tray, pour through only and allow to drain off before putting it back in its water tray.

Temperature

I grow my disa orchids in a Greenhouse environment with my other cool growing orchids here in the UK. They will tolerate quite a range of temperatures and will be quite happy in a frost protected greenhouse. They need to be kept as cool as possible in summer and shading should be applied to the greenhouse roof. In very bright conditions the leaves will start to turn pale and yellow, but this will make the colour of the flowers much better – a compromise is required.

 

Top Tip! Provide good air circulation, use your Fans 24/7

Flowers

Flowers should appear in late spring into summer, but can be temperamental in some cultivars. After flowering the stem and the old plant will start to die back and turn yellow and then brown. This is quite normal as the plant is recycling nutrients back into the tuber to aid next year’s new growth.

Round about September and October your disa will start to die back at this time new growths should start to appear, these can be removed and potted on individually as next years plants. Prior to repotting check for any signs od disease or fungal infections such as Botrytis, these must be removed to ensure your you plant remains healthy during the winter months. Once these have been potted the old plant can be discarded.

I hope that you enjoy growing these spectacular orchids and that they give you as much pleasure as they have given me!

When repotting I always allow for new growth and never over pot, these plants always do well when they are contained, so leave just enough room for the following two years growth.

Hope you found this growing guide useful,
you can also visit our YouTube channel for more growing guides and tips.

How To Grow Dionaea Muscipula

Dionaea Muscipula or more commonly known as (Venus’s Fly Trap), it originates from the Green wetlands of North & South Carolina on the East Coast of the United States of America, to be more precise within a 75-mile radius of a Town called Wilmington.

“The Venus fly trap” as we call it!, is a carnivorous plant shaped like a small rosette and usually found to have seven Leaves with a trap on the ends, it is now under endangered species review and is rapidly declining from its natural habitat according to the US Fish & Wildlife Service. The decline in population is caused by poachers, who remove the plant from the wild.

Many Growers and collectors of these fascinating plants have started cultivation between species and create new cultivars like the B52, Sawtooth and Red Dragon to name a few by cross pollination when the plants are in bloom.

I personally have approximately 36 different cultivars “relatively small to some growers” currently growing in my temperate greenhouse here in the UK. So how do I grow them here, mostly from seed which can take between 2-4 years to become an adult size plant, so not the quickest way to build a collection I would recommend purchasing adult cultivars from a good carnivorous plant nursery is your best option.

Temperature

I found that Dionaea Muscipula can survive outside during our winters, however I choose to put them all in my greenhouse during the winter Months to prevent them from freezing, some growers I know use winter fleece coverings.

Temperatures in the Carolinas frequently hit 30°C (86°F) during summer and drop below 0°C in in the winter (32°F), and so Venus Flytraps are perfectly happy in the UK climate provided they are protected from the elements.

 

Top Tip! Remember These plants require a dormancy period every winter from around the end of October to the end of February, to ensure the survival of the plant. Just keep the plant moist.

They like full sun or grow lights for approximately 6 to 8 hours per day throughout the growing season, the longer the better, this helps them to gain the red colouring of their inner traps which is desirable by growers throughout the world

Top Tip! Remember these like there roots wet, so stand their pot in about one inch of water and never let them dry out.

Terminology & Growing guide

Pronunciation is “Dion-aea Mus-cip-ula”. Dionaea Muscipula. The Leaves which stem from the rhizome of the plant are called Petioles. The traps are called the Laminar. Muscilage digestive enzyme. The roots are very fragile Black in colour with a short white growing tip which anchor the plant into the ground or growing media. The Growing media I use is a 50/50 mix of Peat moss and perlite, other growers use pure long fibre sphagnum moss, you should never use any normal garden potting mix as this will contain nutrients which will kill your plant.

The leaves photosensitise from the sun or grow light this provides sugars to the rhizome. Trigger Hairs each side of the inner Laminar are three trigger hairs which when triggered by an insect send an electro pulse to “Shut the traps”, the trigger hair has to be triggered twice or two hairs in succession for the trap to close, entrapping the pray, the more the insect struggles the tighter the trap becomes and the stomach secretes digestives juices “enzymes” which are released to digest the prey. Should the pray escape after triggering the trap, it will stay closed for a few hours then reopen. If the trap was successful once digested in about 10 days’ time the trap will open and the carcass of the insect usually blows away. Each trap will catch about 3 insects then die back this is perfectly normal.

vft usually flower prolifically, and unless you have had your plant at least a year, I would recommend you cut the flowers off as they appear. Otherwise, it will put a lot of energy into the flower instead of the traps, and unless it is a strong plant, it can suffer and even die after flowering.

Top Tip! Do not fertilize your Dionaea with any type of fertilizer or plant feed the traps will catch their own food and nutrients.

Humidity

Needs to be between 55-80% humidity like its natural habitat, so really in my opinion are unsuitable has house plants but can be kept outside on a patio or bog garden during the summer months and then stored in a cold garage, porch or greenhouse during winter dormancy.

Water

Only use rainwater or Reverse osmosis water, never use tap water here in the UK, even bottled filtered water may cause minerals to build up which will also kill your plant.

Recommended reading.

The savage Garden by Peter D’Amato

Hope you found this growing guide useful,
you can also visit our YouTube channel for more growing guides and tips.

How To Grow Sarracenia

Here in the UK these plants can be grown outdoors and will survive our winters.

So, let’s talk about sarracenia plants, which I grow in my cool to cold greenhouse from seed germination.

Sarracenias, commonly known as pitcher plants, are carnivorous plants mainly from North America.

They bear flowers that grow singly on tall leafless stalks and most have long tubular ‘pitchers’. Inside these pitchers is a well of digestive fluid that breaks down prey, which is then absorbed by the plant.

Sarracenias are perennial plants that should be grown in full sun in nutrient-poor compost, and watered from beneath by keeping the plant pot in a tray of rainwater or reverse osmosis.

So, what conditions do they need?

Growing Media

Sarracenia are best suited to a soft absorbent media like peat, cocoa peat or live sphagnum moss. I use a mix of sphagnum peat moss and perlite the same mix I use for all my carnivorous plants, try keep it light and fluffy.

Fertilizer and Feeding
Do not feed or fertilize Sarracenia, they will catch their own. common fertilizer damages or can kills these plants as they are adapted to growing in exceedingly poor bog soils.

Your plants should manage to feed themselves as long as you keep them healthy.

Watering
Sarracenia are bog plants by nature, they very much need to have wet feet at all times and ideally should be grown in boggy conditions. The best method is to sit their pots into water trays. They should be kept permanently moist through all year (including during winter dormancy where the depth can be reduced to prevent freezing).

Lighting
Though it varies among the differing forms Sarracenia are fairly tolerant of a range of different lighting conditions from partial shade through to full sun.

If plants in the shade develop excessive amounts of a sooty mildew it can be a sign, they need a lighter exposure. Positioning your sarracenia’s in full sun will result in the best pitcher growth and colour

 

Temperature
Sarracenia favour hot summers and cold winters. They are frost tolerant and many will actually grow better if exposed to frost during dormancy.

Hope this short guide helps, why not check out our shop to see if we have any sarracenia plants or seeds available.

 

How To Grow Restrepia

How I Grow Restrepia Orchids here in my Cool to Cold Greenhouse

Pronounced Re-STREP-ee-ah, there is currently over 59 recognised species in the Genus, they love moisture, and the majority are epiphytic, they come from cool damp areas of the Montane forests of the Andes, Venezuela and parts of central America through to southern Mexico.

I have tried growing mine in sphagnum moss but failed miserably, so I now grow them in a mixture of small bark, perlite and charcoal.

Most flowers emerge from the base of the leaf and usually bear a single flower as seen on the pictures, some of these are really amazing in colour.

They quite often produce Keikis from the base of the leaf, which can easily be removed once the roots are of a good length which I remove and pot-on, it’s an easy way of propagation.

They like cool temperatures ideally below 20c here in the UK, I try and keep my temperatures between 18-20c with a night-time temperature of between 10-15c

They thrive on Humidity and it is recommended to be between 70-100%, I would say 100% is ideal but because I grow other plants in my cool-cold greenhouse I set mine at 70% and this has proved OK for me.

They like it Shady.

I give them intermediate light levels (shaded) during the summer months, I’ve also had some success by mounting them on cork bark, but remember they grow quite fast when happy, so use a decent size mount which allows them to grow.

Do not let your restrepia’s dry out for long periods of time, especially if you’ve mounted it.

Remember if your Restrepia is getting too much light the leaves will turn a reddish brown this helps prevent sun burn, it’s a good reminder to move it to a shadier position.

Hope you enjoyed this short Care Guide for Restrepia Orchids.

How I grow Chlorophytum

One of the most popular houseplants is the Chlorophytum comosun Variegatum, commonly known as the Spider Plant is a very easy grower and looks amazing if planted in a hanging basket which allows the young spiderettes to hang down from the mother plant.

So, what care needs do they require?

Light Levels

 Bright, indirect light is best; however, an hour of morning sun is highly beneficial, too. Avoid more than three hours of sunlight per day as overhead trees in the wild protect them, and could easily result in sun-scorch if ignored. Spider Plants are an excellent choice for darker locations as long as over-watering is avoided; never relocate a specimen that’s acclimatised to bright light into a darker area, as it may cause severe wilting

Watering

 Allow the top third of the soil to dry out in between watering’s, reducing this further during the autumn and winter months. As they’ll develop thick tuberous root systems to survive prolonged drought in the wild, it’s always best to under-water a Spider Plant rather than over-do it. When irrigating, use tepid water to prevent hurting their sensitive roots from the sudden temperature change – if it’s too cold for your teeth, it’ll be the same with the plant, too! Although rainwater is best, if you decide to use tap water, allow it to stand for 24hrs to eliminate both chloride and fluoride; large quantities of these chemicals will gradually build up in the soil over the oncoming months, damaging both its overall health and the soil quality.

Under-watering symptoms include stunted growth, browned leaf tip edges or spiderette death, which are commonly caused by too much heat / light or may require repotting.

Over-watering symptoms include a mushy centre, severe wilting, or a collapsed stem. If you feel over-watering is to blame, remove the affected leaves, mushy roots and replace some of the soil with a fresh batch of houseplant compost or add perlite to your mix.

Chlorophytum

Temperature:

 Spider plants cannot tolerate temperatures below 10℃ (50℉) as their natural environment wouldn’t dip below this threshold during the year. Typical symptoms include the yellowing of leaves and foliage decline, along with a general deterioration of health. Remove the affected leaves and immediately relocate to a location with an adequate amount of warmth and avoid persistent droughts and intense sunlight to prevent further issues.

Humidity:

Use a humidity tray to provide a moist and stable environment for your plant. If the surrounding humidity is too low or the heat too high, its leaves may start to brown over and curl, especially in direct sunlight. Mist the foliage down from time to time to hydrate the leaves and help keep them dust free.

Feed:

 Fertilise your plant every three to four watering’s in the spring and summer before reducing this to every six or seven for the rest of the year. Houseplant feed is best, but general-purpose fertiliser can be used at half the recommended strength. Never over-feed during the colder months as large build-ups of chemical salts may cause root-burn and weaken the plants health.

  Common growth issues:

 Browning leaf tips or edges is the biggest problem most growers will face. Finding the direct cause is somewhat difficult, as it’ll range from too much direct sunlight with too little watering, a much needed repot, over-fertilisation, or excessive fluoride found in tap water. Spider Plants must not endure more than three hours of peak sunlight, especially if the soil is kept too dry, as sun-scorch leaf may be visible. Apart from the browned leaf-tips, a washed-out appearance consisting of yellowing leaves, severe wiling and dying leaf edges will begin to develop. Relocate the specimen in a slightly darker location, maintaining evenly moist soil with the avoidance of fertilisation.

Becoming pot bound is the second common cause of browning leaf tips. If you haven’t had already noticed, large swollen roots will quickly fill the pot within a few months, strengthening itself for the potential drought season.

Over-fertilisation may be to blame. Although they prefer to grow in nutritious soil, large build-ups of chemical salts will develop over the year, causing root burn and yellowing leaves. If you feel that this is to blame, give it a good soak and flush through with tepid water, allowing the water to drain beneath the pot to wash away excess salts freely.
Finally, fluoride found in tap water could also be the culprit for the deformed growth. Never directly pour water from the tap into the soil without being stood in a non-metal container for at least 24hrs before application, “personally I would recommend using stored rainwater or reverse osmosis R.O water’. This is because chemicals in tap water have added additives such as chloride, and most notably fluoride, won’t have enough time to evaporate when applied to your plant. Large quantities of these chemicals will develop over the following months, wreaking havoc within the soil and roots and eventually take your plant down (Kill It).

Yellowing leaves could be the sign of too little sunlight or over-watering, which commonly go hand in hand. Specimens situated in darker locations must be watered far less than those grown elsewhere, purely based on the photosynthesis and lack of warmth from the sun. Over-watering symptoms include a mushy centre, severe wilting, or a collapsed stem. Allow at least half of the soil to dry out in between irrigations and increase the amount of light to promote better uptake of water through the roots, try different positions around your home to find the best suitable location so you have a happy plant.

If your spider plant has collapsed, but still appears healthy, it could be down to the lack of light. Again, position it in a brighter location with no direct sunlight to prevent further stress.

Failed cuttings propagated via water – There are several reasons why the cuttings haven’t rooted well, with the first being the time of year. Spider Plants are best propagated during the spring, with cuttings taken in the autumn or winter rooting much slower.
The second reason could be the cultivation environment – is there enough light to read a newspaper? If not, improve the growing conditions by increasing the amount of indirect light, avoiding the threat of excessive direct sunlight.
Moreover, the size of the cutting will play a big part in its success; smaller specimens (3cm in length or less) won’t root appropriately due to the lower amounts of stored energy.
The water must also be replaced weekly to ensure nasty pathogens cannot breed and decay on the cuttings. If the bottom of the stem is brown and mushy, discard immediately as the rot will spread onto unaffected spiderettes. The photo above shows how we propagate our young divisions during the summer months.

Pruning and Maintenance:

Remove yellowed or dying leaves and plant debris to encourage better growth and improve the all-round appearance. Pruning must be done with clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases – remember to make clean incisions as too much damage can shock the plant.

Propagation:

 Your plant will produce several basal offsets that can be separated once they have a sufficient root system. If possible, water the soil 24hrs before the main event to reduce the risk of shock, when its dry root systems are over-fingered. Take the plant out of its pot and place your fingers close to the nodal junction – soil may have to be removed for better access. Push the chosen offset downwards until you hear a snap. Separate the foliage and its root system away from the mother plant, mentally noting the high risk of damage. Transplant in the appropriately sized pot with a fresh batch of ‘Houseplant’ soil. Maintain evenly moist soil and situate it in a bright, indirect location away from any direct sunlight. After four weeks, treat it like a normal Spider Plant, following the care tips above!

Spiderettes (Very Easy) – After a year or so, Spider Plants will produce stolons or what we call spiderettes (offsets) and small, white flowers. Once the spiderettes are around 6cm in height, safely snip the plants off from the stolon and place in water for a few weeks. Once the root system is a quarter of the plant’s height, it’s time to pot it up. Choose a 7cm pot that’s has adequate drainage and fill with a good houseplant compost. Push the roots, of the cutting’s base into the soil and water thoroughly. After the first irrigation, the soil may dip and compact in some areas – this is completely fine and should be filled with the leftover ‘Houseplant’ compost. Keep the spiderette in a bright, indirect location away from direct sunlight and other heat sources. Maintain evenly moist soil, allowing the top layer to become dry in between waters. After two months, treat it the same as you would with the mother plant, following the care tips above.

Flowers:

 Runners’, or stolons, will develop during spring and summer that’ll hold small white flowers and offspring in the form of spiderettesThe flowers will develop in succession along the stolon, lasting up to five days before browning and falling off.

  Origin:

 The genus, Chlorophytum has been found across Africa, but has recently been introduced to other areas such as Western Australia, Thailand, and Malaysia.

Remember we sell Large and small potted divisions of (Chlorophytum Comosun) plants in our shop.

How I grow Tradescantia

Tradescantia is one of the most known houseplants around the world, it covers many cultivars and colours including Pink, Purple, Red, Green, White, and Yellow.

Commonly Known as the Wondering Jew, spiderwort, Indian plant, or Inch plant, they are one of the easiest plants to grow and propagate. So, firstly let’s look at the different varieties and cultivars you can have in your collection for example Zebrina, Albiflora, chrysophylla, pallida, Mundula, Fluminensis, Discolor, Silver plus, Red Gem, nanouk, Quadricolor, Variegata, the list goes on!

Its non-fussy nature and colourful foliage make it a great choice for both beginners and more experienced plant lovers

So, what care needs do they require?

Tradescantia

 Light Levels

 The Wandering Jew thrives in bright to medium light conditions. To maintain the most striking contrast of vivid colours give it bright diffused light.

 Watering

 Water well during the growing season and allow to dry-out between watering’s. Ideally should be watered with rainwater or RO water but I have been told by a lot of growers they just use ordinary tap water. If the plant sits in wet soil for long periods, it will cause root rot. Reduce the amount of watering in winter.

 Temperature

 Tradescantia cultivars are happy in normal household temperatures: anywhere from 10°C to 24°C. Be aware however, that in cold conditions, the plant will grow much slower.

 Humidity

The Tradescantia does prefer increased levels of humidity but will tolerate normal conditions. For an added boost, try misting regularly, or relocate to a steamier/ more humidified room such as the kitchen or bathroom.

Feed

Apply a weak general-purpose fertiliser to the pot of your tradescantia during the summer months.

 Height & Growth Rate

 The wondering Jew Plant is fast-growing and typically develops long trails capable of being trained to climb. These can be cut back to maintain desired length and look.

 Toxicity

The Tradescantia Plant is mildly toxic to pets. Keep away from animals.

 Origin

 Tradescantia varieties are native to Mexico and Central America.

Tradescantia

 Remember we sell bare rooted and potted divisions of various tradescantia plants in our shop.

How I grow Drosera capensis

Drosera Capensis, commonly known as the cape sundew, is a small rosette forming carnivorous plant Native to the cape in South Africa.

 One of the easiest drosera’s to grow here in the UK and can be purchased on this website in our shop under carnivorous plants we currently stock both the Alba and Red forms which are readily available.

It has amazing sticky leaves which wrap themselves around its pray and allows the digestive glands to secrete a sticky enzymes substance which enables the plant to digest its pray, which is usually midges, mosquitoes, and small house flies. Can be grown on a sunny windowsill, conservatory, cold greenhouse or terrarium and does well outside during the summer months, Drosera does not require a dormancy and may naturally die-back during the winter.

 It has small, beautiful flowers which resemble a viola bloom and can range from white to pink flowers during the growing season.

Drosera capensis

Soil:

Use a Specialist carnivorous compost from a reliable sauce or mix your own.

I’ve found the cape sundew does best in a sandy peat moss soil mix, or a mixture of 50 percent peat moss and 50 percent perlite or can even be grown in pure sphagnum moss. They do not rely much on nutrients from the soil, as the plant obtains most of the nutrition that it requires from the prey it catches.

Additionally, it should not be fertilized, as again, it gets the nutrition that is needed from the bugs and insects it feeds on. In fact, fertilizing the plant can actually end up burning the roots and could potentially kill your cape sundew.

 care:

This carnivorous plant should be watered from below during the growing season. The easiest way to do this is to stand the pot in a saucer or tray that is filled with between 2 and 5 cm of Rain or RO water. When the plant is dormant, water only when the compost gets dry, making sure the excess can drain away freely or as I do stand the pot on damp capillary matting. repot on in spring using a specialist compost.

 Light:

The cape sundew thrives in full sun to part shade and will produce the most vibrant colours when they are exposed to such conditions. If necessary, you can also use artificial light to provide the cape sundew with the light that it needs to thrive.

Water:

Tap water should never be used on your capensis dur to the high concentrate of additives added to drinking water supplies, use on collected rainwater, distilled or Reverse osmosis water and your capensis will thrive.

Drosera capensis

 

Let’s start growing Highland Nepenthes

All you need to know to start growing your Nepenthes, firstly we need to understand a little bit of culture to grow these beauties.

Commonly known as “Monkey cups” and are predominantly found in Southeast Asia on the islands of Borneo, Sumatra, and the Philippines they are found at different altitudes throughout the lowland swamps and cloud forests.

The cups “traps” are not classed as a flower but are an extension of the leaves which allow the plant to catch pray to provide nutrients to the plant, as in their natural habitat the soil lacked nutrients.

A lot of growers start out growing Highland Nepenthes which I grow, Highland Nepenthes means the cooler Varieties of both species and hybrids.

For people new to Nepenthes and are thinking of starting growing Nepenthes there are three groups in the cultivation that is Highland, Lowland the warmer varieties and the Ultra Highland which is cold growing.

The temperature ranges for the two main varieties are:

Highland requires a night temperature of 10-12ºC and around 21ºC during the day.

Lowland requires a night temperature of 14ºC with a day of 22-25ºC they truly are amazing plants for the hobbyist to grow, right!

Humidity:

They like good humidity between 60 and 80% this can all be achieved with the help of various pieces of kit I would strongly recommend a Hydro fogger / humidifier, I personally use the Faran HR-50 in my Greenhouse environment. Remember these plants grow in a humid environment so dry and hot conditions are not suitable.

Light:

My nepenthes are doing well in a bright position but not direct sunlight so a good idea is to have at least 50% shading over your greenhouse during the summer months to prevent scorching of their leaves, if you’re growing your nepenthes in the home or in a grow tent you will need supplementary lighting, for example grow lights.

Misting:

I mist my plants every morning during the summer months to keep the tendrils and new pitchers from drying out, not every grower does this, but I found it helps me and provides additional humidity.

Feeding:

I only do a foliar feed about every two weeks using SB Plant invigorator which again I find helps me, but not too much otherwise they may become lazy and produce fewer pitchers, some growers use seaweed extract as a foliar feed but it’s entirely up to the individual grower’s preferences, I don’t put any artificial food into my pitchers, they catch their own food.

Air Circulation:

Nepenthes need good air circulation 24/7 like it would in its natural habitat this can be achieved using electrical oscillating fans which can be placed around your grow space to provide a slight breeze.

Potting Media:

This is always a personal preference, I use long fibre sphagnum moss, or you could use a peat and perlite mix and you could add a small amount of fine orchid bark, never use commercial potting compost which will contain nutrients which will damage the roots and eventually kill your plant.

Watering:

Regular watering using R.O. reverse osmosis water or rainwater is ideal for a healthy plant, but make sure its kept at your grow room temperature and not ice cold. Never use tap water especially here in the UK due to the number of additives which can be found in tap water.

Never over water, and water from the top of the pot and allow the access water to drain out, I wouldn’t recommend standing your plant in a tray of water as this may cause root rot.

Recommended starter plants:

  1. X Ventrata, N. Alata, N. Ventricosa.

We sometimes have various rooted stem/ Basel cuttings available in our on-line store.

How I grow Darlingtonia Californica “Cobra Lilly”

Darlingtonia Californica are carnivorous plants native to Northern California and are mainly mountain plants, although they do grow down to sea level near the coast. They are usually found growing along mountain streams, in forests under dappled shade and near the coast in water streams in the mountains.  The common factor in all these locations is constant slow moving cool water, indeed Cobras usually grow near natural springs.

The Cobra Lily has a reputation for being difficult to grow. In this guide I share how I grow mine here in the UK with good results.

How they Trap Pray

The leaves on a Cobra Lily bear a strong resemblance to a Cobra rearing up ready to strike with its forked tongue flicking out, hence its common name!  The leaves are tubular rising up to a puffed hood full of transparent windows, with a circular opening beneath. From this opening the nectar baited tongue appears. It is this tongue that most often lures flying insects, once there they follow the nectar trail towards the inside the trap where the bright light shining through its transparent windows offers a means of escape. Once inside the trap it is almost impossible for the insect to escape due to the curled edge of the trap entrance, very similar to a lobster pot.  Whilst trying to exit through the translucent windows the insect falls down the tube of the trap, where sharp downward pointing hairs make it a one-way trip.

Cultivation

I find it’s best to grow Cobras in quite large pots as they send out runners (stolons) from the roots that form new plantlets at the end once they reach the surface of the soil.  Well drained 4” pots do well as starter pots. Some growers use Light coloured plastic pots, preferably white if available, Darlingtonia likes its roots kept cool.  Always use drained containers.  Cobras only need re-potting every two or three years for maximum growth.

Media Mix

A lot of growers insist that you must grow your plant in pure live Sphagnum Moss for success with Darlingtonia.  In my experience this is not the case, I find that a mix of 50:50 peat/perlite or 50:50 sphagnum/perlite works well. The important thing is to keep the soil mix airy to help cool the roots.

Watering

Stand pots in a deep tray containing 2-3” of rain or distilled water.  It is important to water from above with cool water to keep water flowing through the roots and help simulate the plants natural environment and keep the soil temperature down. This should be done at least once a week, daily in hot weather.

Light/Climate

I would suggest you grow your Cobra lily outside in a sheltered partly shaded position. In temperate climates like here in the UK your plant can be grown outside all year round as they are extremely hardy and frost resistant once established.  They can also be grown in a greenhouse near a vent or door to help it keep cool.  Growers who live in hotter climates tend to struggle with cobras, but if steps are taken to keep the plants roots cool and not cooking in hot sun it should grow just fine.

Feeding/Fertilizing

If grown outside your Cobra will catch all it needs, usually copious amounts of large flies and wasps.  If grown on a windowsill or in a greenhouse you might want to try feeding your plants dried insects. I use a seaweed fertilizer used as a foliar feed once a month.

Propagation

The easiest and fastest method to propagate Darlingtonia is from the stolons (runners) they send out. This is best done in early spring before growth resumes.  Remove a stolon from the plant once a baby plant has appeared at the end and cut it into sections about an inch long. Ensure each section has a few small roots.  Place the sections in a shallow tray of wet live sphagnum moss and partly cover the sections with moss. Cover the tray to ensure high humidity and then place in a bright area out of direct sun. New pitchers will grow from the sections sometimes yielding several plants per section. Don’t separate into individual plants until they each have a good root system.  Whilst you can propagate cobras from seed it is VERY slow taking about four years to grow four inches!

Remember we sometimes have cobra lily plants available in our on-line store.

Cephalotus Follicularis Care Guide

Commonly known as the Albany pitcher plant.

This Western Australian pitcher plant is unique among all carnivorous plants. This ground-hugging pitcher plant evolved independently from Sarracenia, Darlingtonia, Heliamphora, or Nepenthes, and is native to a narrow strip of coastline in Southwestern Australia. Cephalotus produces small clumps of colorful thumb-size pitchers, which range from orangey-reds, to maroons, to almost black. Upon closer inspection, you can see a line of “teeth” lining the rim of each pitcher. There is only one species in the genus, Cephalotus follicularis. If you’re new to growing carnivorous plants, consider trying out a Nepenthes or tropical sundew before investing in this rare and often at times challenging little gem.

Natural Habitat
Cephalotus are native to the Southwestern coastal region of Australia, around the city of Albany. Albany has relatively mild summers and winters, and brief episodes of light frost occur commonly during the winter months.

Where to Grow
Cephalotus are considered a warm-temperate plant and can tolerate a light frost, so if you live in the UK, you could grow your plant in a temperate greenhouse or a cold frame with other temperate plants. (See below for winter care.) Otherwise, grow your plant indoors as a tropical houseplant.

Heat Tolerance
Cephalotus has the reputation of being finicky when it comes to heat. In my growing experience with Cephalotus, I believed that it couldn’t tolerate temperatures above (32°C). However, through much trial and error, I found that a drop in nighttime temperature below (21°C) is essential if day temperatures are very warm. Plants in my collection occasionally experience temperatures as high as (33°C) in the summer, that’s when we get a decent summer here in the UK.

Sunlight
Cephalotus requires partial to full sun. I grow mine in my greenhouse where it can receive approximately 4 or more hours of direct sunlight and bright filtered sunlight throughout the rest of the day. The cooler direct morning sun is ideal.

Water
In cultivation, Cephalotus prefers damp moist soil instead of waterlogged soil. Their water preferences are similar to those of Nepenthes. The soil should always kept moist and never allowed to dry out. You can either keep Cephalotus in a tray with the water level no higher than ¼” up the pot or like me you can stand your plant on capillary matting, this method works well for me. This provides the roots moisture and aeration. But remember too much water can cause root rot. I’ve also found that they don’t like being watered from the top.

Cephalotus are very sensitive to water with dissolved mineral levels of 50 ppm or more, so use rainwater or RO water whenever possible and never tap water.

Soil
Like other types of tropical pitcher plants, Cephalotus are tolerant of a variety of mixes so long as it is nutrient-free and well-drained. My current media mix is equal parts sphagnum peat moss and perlite 50/50. This mixture provides excellent drainage and aeration. Never use commercial potting soil, compost, or fertilizer. They will kill your plant.

Winter Care
In its native habitat, Cephalotus will experience a winter rest of approximately three months during which time the daytime temperatures are cooler (13° – 21°C) and daylight hours are shorter. It will continue to grow, but growth will slow down dramatically, and the plant will produce an abundance of flat, non-carnivorous leaves. 

Winter rest is an essential part of this plant’s care. Many experienced growers have reported that their adult Cephalotus that they’ve had for many years suddenly died for no apparent reason. Stress related to years of growing without a winter rest might be the reason why. 

If you are growing your plant in a windowsill, your plant will naturally experience a winter rest by the decrease in daylight hours. Just make sure the plant is away from any strong heat source, such as a central heating or air vent. 

If you are growing your plant in a cold frame or greenhouse, your plant will go dormant and stop growing altogether. During its dormancy, it can tolerate brief episodes of a light frost. I would suggest the use of a heater to maintain a minimum temperature of (2°C) if daytime temperature falls below freezing for long periods.

Repotting
Cephalotus dislikes having its roots disturbed. Use a tall plastic pot that is oversized for the size of your plant. After that, change the soil every other year. The best time of the year to repot your plant is in late winter or early spring while the plant is in its winter rest. Regular removal of dead pitches and leaves is recommended to prevent any rotting.

Propagation

You can divide your plant into smaller plants during or when your repotting, you’ll find natural divisions. I find that taking leaf pulling’s in early spring works well, select a new leaf growth and try to get as far into the plant as possible and pull the leaf ensuring you have the white part of the leaf stem and pot them on into your chosen mix, you can do the same method by removing a decent pitcher again with a good length of white stem and pot this on. I’ve even tried seed propagation, but this really is very long winded and can take a few years to develop a decent size plant.

I hope you found this grow guide useful and remember we sometimes have young cephalotus divisions for sale in our store.

Regular inspections of your Masdevallia will help identify any potential problems with regards to pest and diseases. Healthy plants are less likely to have problems with pests, fungal or bacterial infections or indeed viruses.

On arrival you should segregate new plants from the rest of your collection for about 2-3 weeks, I use SB Plant Invigorator on all new plants entering my greenhouse, just as a precaution to ensure they are not bringing in any parasites, or pests.

Remember pests are more active when the atmosphere is warm and dry and if you are growing plants in the home spray them every morning with tepid or R.O. water and/or stand them on a tray of pebbles with a small amount of water in to help with humidity. If you can, ensure there is good air movement around your plants as fungal problems are far less prevalent where there is good air circulation / Movement.

PESTS: The main pests you are likely to encounter are aphids, spider mites, scale insect and mealy bug. Believe me all growers at some point in their lives will have some sort of infestation and I for one recently had a bad outbreak of Boisduval Brown Scale recently show on my YouTube channel video (16) well worth a watch.

Thin leaf plants such as Masdevallia attract spider mites and aphids. You can check for spider mites by looking at the underside of the foliage which will appear to be silvery in colour as opposed to green. They are very small so difficult to see with the naked eye but a small magnifying glass will make these visible or a fine misting spray may show up their webs. Aphids are much more visible and familiar and secrete a sugary liquid which can turn into a black and unsightly fungus You can treat both spider mite and aphids by using a good quality pesticide, I use SB Invigorator on all my Masdevallia which seems to treat almost all types of pests, remember to follow the manufactures instructions and repeat the treatment after 10-14 days.

 

Tip! A good indicator is if you see ants on your plants, they are more than likely after the sugary liquid left by the Aphids, so have a good look at your plants.

scale insects can appear at any time, which can be either soft or hard shelled insects that are attached to the foliage of your Masdevallia leaves. Mealy bug is a soft bodied insect which looks like a very small wood louse and usually is visible as a cotton wool like material on the underside of the leaf, stems, sheaths, or indeed in the potting media. The best way to treat scale insect and mealy bug is by spray with a systemic insecticide like provado, much the same as with spider mites and aphids. If the extent of the mealy bug problem is small and localised you can use a cotton bud soaked with some Rubbing Alcohol to wipe away the insect. Other growers have their own methods for example a soapy water solution, I’ve tried this and found it did not control the infestation, basically from the old book school of orchid growing. So, get rid at the first sighting.

DISEASES: Most diseases are spread through insects so make sure your plant is pest free and when re-potting your plant always obtain your Media from a reputable seller / supplier. You should always use new pots or clean old ones in a diluted solution of bleach and, if you use any cutting tools, make sure they are sterilised before and after use either a naked flame from a gas lighter or rubbing alcohol.

 

Tip! Sterilise cutting implements before & after each cut, this way you will ensure you are not transferring the disease to other plants in your collection.

There are a number of diseases that affect Masdevallia orchids although in most cases the cause is as a result of unsatisfactory growing conditions, (your environment) If you follow the guidance at the top of this page you should avoid most of the problems but if you are unfortunate to suffer any problems the removal of infected plant (Quarantine area) may stop it from spreading. However, if your plant develops marks on the foliage and you do not know what they are you would be well advised to seek out an orchid expert.

 

Want to own your own plant?

Visit my shop

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN A SPECIFIC PLANT?

GET IN TOUCH