According to the members of the Caboolture Orchid Society, one you get the hang of growing orchids, there's a high risk of addiction.
June Blaschek, Jim Endres and Ian Blanch succumbed years ago, but they say it is a healthy obsession - which they call orchiditis - and it's brought them plenty of joy.
“You start with one and end up with three or four plants and don’t want to part with them,” Ian explains.
“That’s the addictive part of it. Then your backyard isn’t big enough. It’s worse than cigarettes and alcohol,” Jim adds, laughing.
They say the challenging nature of growing some varieties, and the plants' beauty and perfume make it irresistible.
There's also the fun that comes with being part of an orchid society. In 2019 the Caboolture Orchid Society celebrated it's 50th year.
Ian says joining an orchid society is an excellent way to learn plant growing tips and tricks. For beginners, Cattleya orchids are the hardiest and easiest to look after.
As you become more skilled you can move into varieties of hybrids and species.
Ian says you can opt for large plants if you have plenty of space, but if you don't have the mini Cattleya varieties available.
“You can still get a reasonable flower on them,” he says.
The main points to remember are: Don't overwater them, make sure they 're shade-protected, use an orchid blend potting mix, don't starve them, and watch out for pests like ants and mealybugs.
If you're interested in learning more about growing these amazing plants, go to the society's annual Winter Show. You can have plants re-potted at the event, and if you need advice you can bring your plants along.
You can also buy new ones and stock up on supplies, with a large selection of orchids on display and for sale. There will also be displays from other orchid societies, and floral art arrangements to inspire you.
“You learn as you go. I’ve got a shed of empty pots and you know where empty pots come from,” Ian says with a grin.
Watering: They love water but don’t allow it to pool, and be sure it has run through the plant and out within 24 hours
Shade: They prefer dappled light and a shade house with 70 per cent shade cloth to shield them from the elements
Potting mix: Use an orchid blend of coarse bark, charcoal and you can even add Perlite
Fertiliser: Use an orchid bloomer mix all year round and a mix high in nitrogen in the growing season, summer
Pests: Ants and mealybugs can be treated using horticultural oil such as Carbaryl
Hot tip: Always buy plants that are named so you know what they are and what they need. Buy good quality, healthy plants
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