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Floriculture[1]

Floriculture[1]

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Published by: dr_sundaresan7837 on May 01, 2009
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1
Floriculture
Dr.P.Sundaresan
Once considered a hobby for the wealthy, orchids today are well within the reach of any plant enthusiast and are now available at a fairly reasonable price. There are approximately25000 species of orchids, having their own unique characteristics and charm. Unlike parasites,orchids are epiphytes, which means their roots cling onto rocks and trees without harming thehost plant in any way.Orchids are very sturdy plants. With proper information, guidance and right growingconditions, they can be relatively easy to grow and look after, probably as easy as any other houseplant. You need not do too much to enjoy their beauty. All they basically need is the right proportion of water, air and fertilizer.If left undisturbed, orchids are virtually immortal and quite difficult to kill. It is best toobtain an orchid plant from a specialized orchid nursery. This is also the best place to gather valuable information and advice on orchid care. A healthy looking plant with dark green leavesand good root formation would be the best specimen. Plants with yellowing or brown leavesshould be avoided.Orchids have often been dubbed “The Queen of Flowers.” Their exotic blooms andintriguing habits make them very desirable ornamental plants.Ranging from modest to opulent, orchids are available in virtually every color of thespectrum, from pale pastel to bold bright reds and yellows. As their spikes rise gracefully abovethe rest, it is not surprising to see them command the attention they so rightly deserve. Thefragrance is an added bonus: some times heady, at others subtle. Their irregular framework,naturalistic appeal and colorful flowers are instrumental in setting the mood and creating a stronginterest statement, guaranteed to enhance and brighten up any décor.Orchids are slow growing plants and some basic guidelines are applicable to most orchidvarieties. Good air movement is essential to keep their roots healthy. They thrive when there is asteady moist breeze. But do remember to keep them away from direct air conditioning. Mostorchids enjoy full morning sunlight, but require partial shading between 12.00 noon and 3.00 pm.Water daily once or twice, depending on the season. Orchids grow best when their pottingmedium is allowed to dry out between watering. Hence, early morning is always advisable.Water thoroughly, but avoid excess. This is one of the most important factors in orchid care.Orchid compost contain little nourishment and hence require feeding with a balancedfertilizer containing 20:20:20 N: P: K (Nitrogen: Phosphorous: Potassium). Dilute one pinch(2grams) in one liter of water and spray over the leaves and roots of the orchid plant. Feedingshould be undertaken every seven to ten days.Orchids are slow growing plants. Repotting once every two years in early spring is,however, recommended. When the plants have outgrown its container, it is definitely time totransfer it to pot one or two sizes larger than the original one. The container should have anumber of holes to assist good drainage. A potting mixture of charcoal pieces, bricks, moss etc,is required to assist anchorage of the roots. Containers such as hanging baskets, coconut shellsand wire hangers, which allow the air to reach the roots, can also be used. Long flowering spikeswith heavy blooms would be best carefully supported.
 
2Spray regularly with an organic insecticide at least once in a month. Spray underside of the leaves as well as the potting mixture.
Scope for floriculture in Kerala state
Kerala is known as God’s own country and the climatic conditions are well suited for orchid cultivation. High humidity, moderate temperature and good rainfall, is ideal for orchidgrowing. But one has to choose the right kind of species such as sun loving, cool growing or intermediate varieties.Arachinis, Asocentrum, Renanthera, Vanda and their hybrids need full sun for freeflowering. Shading, if any, suppresses flowering. On the other hand, Dendrobium, Oncidium,Phalaneopsis etc cannot tolerate direct sun.A temperature of 18-20 degree C gives good flowering in Oncidium ,Phalaneopsis, paphiopedilum, cattaleya etc. Arachinis Vanda, Renanthera, need 21-32 degree C during daytimeand 18-21 during night.The popular varieties suitable for cultivation in Kerala include the famed ArentheraAneeblack and Muhammed Hanif. There are also dendrobium varieties such as Sonia 17, Nagoya Pink, Kasium white etc. 
My role in Orchid cultivation.
My interest in orchid cultivation developed accidentally, having enrolled as a member of Kerala Cut-flower Producers Society at the insistence of Mr. A. Sukesan Pachalloor, the thenPresident of the society. Thereafter, I began attending the society’s monthly meetings regularly.The society was publishing a monthly bulletin. In that bulletin along with the activities of thesociety, there are some useful and informative articles written by experts in this field. By readingthese articles and interacting with society members I became more interested in orchidcultivation.After gaining theoretical knowledge I started some practical work, cultivating some plants as a hobby in my residential area. I erected small green houses on the building terrace andin front of my house. Every thing started in a modest way, but systematically, with a smallnumber of plants. To start with, I purchased some Anthurium and Dendrobium from theFederation of Floriculture, a Kerala Government undertaking at Anayara, Trivandrum.With the initial success in cultivation, my interest doubled. The next step was to get moreinformation and knowledge. I visited the club members’ farms in different places. However, Iwas not satisfied with the information gleaned, so I arranged to get some good books such asOrchid Growing in the Tropics, a book from orchid society of south east Asia (Singapore),Growing Orchids, the complete practical guide to orchids and their cultivation, published byHermes House, London. I also obtained a few Indian books published in Kerala by S.T. Mercyand Bobby Dale.By that time, my house and the compound were full of orchid plants and there was noscope for further development. I was confident that I could extend my hobby into a business.Bearing all this in mind, I purchased a plot admeasuring 52 cents at Vazhathottam,Kolliyoor,Trivandrum in July 2003. Infrastructure like compound fencing, digging a well,

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