“Good things come to those who wait” or “The proof is in the pudding”. How often have you heard these sayings?

In the view of hobby grower Allan Watson, these statements are quite apt when applied to it comes to growing orchids. Faced with the challenge of a two-year long trial growing orchids in Fern Fibre substrate as a growing medium, with the support of Fernwood New Zealand, Allan embarked on the growing journey.

In previous blogs, Allan has explained that he traditionally used bark as a medium for his orchids so the introduction of fern fibre substrate into his orchid culture required some changes. In the end, these changes were as he says, “fairly simple”, as he became used to applying the fern fibre substrate.

There was:

  • Less water required
  • Less Fertilizer required
  • A greater time span between considering repotting

The goal or trial outcome was to simply test the effectiveness of Fern Fibre substrate over the traditional bark medium. Allan had a reasonable diverse orchid collection, and he launched into the experiment with enthusiasm. He soon expanded the trail sample from one genus to a wider number of genera in the Odontoglossum alliance while others in the Odontoglossum alliance are yet to flower those in the Miltoniopsis trial group (10 in fibre and 10 in Bark) of some 20 plants, those in fibre are a standout compared to the rest.

This photo on the right shows a clear difference in size between the flowers of two identical clones in different substrate mediums. Mps Robert Jackson ‘Wild Thing’ both these plants flowered out of the normal flowing season partly due to the warmer than expected climate conditions.

The other photo shows the outcome when Miltoniopsis flower in their norm flowering season.

This is Mps Pink Cadillac ‘Toddy’ AM / OCNZ, and its flowers are105mm in diameter. Its trial buddy growing in bark only produced two flowers 75mm in diameter.

This Mps did so well, it was awarded the Orchid Council of New Zealand Award of Merit.

This award is significant as it’s the first award to be given to Mps Pink Cadillac, and what makes it even better as Allan says it that the fern fibre added weight to the saying “The proof is in the pudding.”

Allan says the two year trial was defiantly worth the wait to see this sort of end result and will when the time is right be repotting all his Miltoniopsis and Odontoglossum Alliance plants into fern fibre.