Photo: Selwyn Hatrick with from left to right: The award winning paphiopedilums (Pavatree x Rainbow Mountain, Alex Szabo, Macabre (gratrixianum x hirsutissimum).

“It’s always an exciting day when the orchid judges visit my greenhouse, and that’s just what they did two weekends ago. The OCNZ system of orchid judging is designed to recognise new or superior forms of orchid species and hybrids, leading to improvement in the shape and the colour of the flowers in all orchid genera.  The system also gives recognition to the growers of plants showing superior culture. Four awards were given to my paphiopedilums this time:

Pavatree x Rainbow Mountain – 83 points
Alex Szabo ‘Pure Gold’ 83 points
Macabre ‘PA Vini’ 84 points
Gratrixianum x hirsutissimum f. esquirolei – Award of Distinction

Since converting to using fern fibre only in preference to bark, I have been growing much larger and more robust orchids. In turn, this has led to considerably more flowers and of better quality.

There is no doubt that if you pot plants in the right stuff (fern fibre) straight away and get your watering right, you can realise the full potential of your flowers.

So often at shows, I see good flowers on mediocre plants.  I can’t help to think that if only the plants were stronger, the flower quality and size would improve. Those folks, in particular those who grow paphiopedilums, miltoniopsis, phragmipediums and phalaenopsis (and related genera) should give fern fibre a go.

Try it out if you haven’t already. For most who are using fern fibre there is no going back to bark.

A big bonus is that if you use fern fibre without any additives, you seldom have to re-pot, if at all. Personally, I don’t re-pot.  If I pot on, I make sure to keep the fibre and root ball intact then move it into a slightly larger pot. The void around the circumference is filled with fern fibre, gently tamped in.

I have a paphiopedilum that has not been re-potted in almost 5 years.  I did move it to a bigger pot recently.  The roots remain in excellent condition, with lush leaf growth and frequent flowering.”

Happy growing,

Selwyn Hatrick