ORCHID CULTURE

Course CodeBHT232
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Become an Orchid Expert

  • Learn to identify different orchids
  • Learn to cultivate and use orchids in different ways
  • Expand your horticultural knowledge and career opportunities, start a business -or just follow a passion

Duration: 100 Hours       You can start this course when you like and complete it at your own pace

Summary of Orchid Culture -for commonly grown genera

REQUIREMENTS FOR A RANGE OF ORCHID GENERA

 

Genus

Minimum Temperature (Degrees Celsius)

Growth Habit

Where To Grow

Shade

Ascocentrum

10‑15

Epiphytic

Pots

Heavy to medium

Brassavola

15

Epiphytic

Pots

Essential

Brassia

15

Epiphytic

Pots

Essential in summer

Bulbophyllum

18

Epiphytic

Pots or            Medium wood slabs

Cattleya

12

Epiphytic

Pots

Mild‑Medium

Coelogyne

10

Epiphytic

Pots and baskets

Mild‑Medium

Cymbidium

7 or lower

Epiphytic or terrestrial

Pots

Medium

Dendrobium

some 10,others lower

Mainly epiphytic

Wood/fern slabs, pots,or baskets

Light‑medium shade in summer

Epidendrum   

some 10, others lower  

Epiphytic

Pots, beds, or baskets

Light‑medium

Laelia  

10

Epiphytic           

Pots

Mild‑medium

Masdevallia

10

Epiphytic

Pots

Mild

Odontoglossum

15

Epiphytic

Pots    

Mild

Oncidium

15

Epiphytic

Pots or slabs

Mild

Paphiopedilum           

13

Terrestrial           

Pots

Medium to heavy

Phalaenopsis 

18

Epiphytic

Pots or 70‑80%baskets

Pleonie           

10 or lower     

Epiphytic or terrestrial

Pots

Mild‑Medium

Vanda 

12‑20

Epiphytes

Usually slabs, but occasionally pots  

Essential in summer

Zygopetalum  

12‑15

Epiphytes

Pots, baskets or slabs

Mild

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson Structure

  1. Introduction
    • Introduction to Orchid Species
    • Plant Names and the System for Naming Orchids
    • Orchid sub families and tribes
    • Plant Name Pronunciation
    • Orchid Plant structure.
    • Resources
    • Terminology
  2. Orchid Culture
    • Overview of Growing Orchids
    • Guidelines; temperature, light, humidity, ventilation, watering, feeding, potting mixes
    • Growing Cattleyas
    • Substrates for Geophytes and Epiphytes
    • Understanding Soils; texture, pH, nutrient availability, fertility
    • Mycorrhyza and Orchids
    • Propagating and Potting Media
    • Nutrients and Nutrition
    • Plant Health; orchid pests, orchid diseases, other problems
    • Pruning Orchids
    • Watering Orchids
  3. Propagation
    • Sexual vs. asexual propagation
    • Asexual Propagating sympodial Orchids
    • Asexual Propagation of Monopodial Epiphytes
    • Aerial Offset Propagation (Keikis)
    • Propagating Orchids by Seed
    • Hybrid Seed Production
    • Harvesting Orchid Seed
    • Flasking Method of Seed Sowing
    • Tissue (Meristem) Culture of Orchids
    • Propagation Equipment; greenhouses, hotbeds, cold frames, mist systems, furo light boxes, etc
  4. Cymbidiums And Dendrobiums.
    • Cymbidium culture
    • Dendrobium Types -soft cane, hard cane, black haired
    • Dendrobium Culture
    • Dendrobium species
  5. Cattleyas, Vandas And Other Commonly Grown Orchids.
    • Cattleya varieties and culture
    • Vandas; main species and culture
    • Odontoglossum
    • Oncidium -types (climbing and spreading), culture
    • Paphiopedalum (Slipper Orchids)
    • Phalaenopsis (Moth Orchids)
    • Pleione (Indian Crocus)
    • Crucifix Orchids (Epidendrum)
  6. Australian Native Orchids.
    • Endemic, naturalised and indigenous plantsProblem Based Learning Project, with the following Learning Outcomes:
    • Determine which species of orchids are most commonly sold in your locality.
    • Determine orchid varieties which are being grown in your locality
    • Determine any orchid genera suited to growing in a warm climate.
  7. Growing Orchids: Commercial and general uses
    • Cut Flower Production of Orchids
    • Basket Plants
    • Epiphytes
    • Review of Orchid Genera for Cut Flower Production
    • Environmental Requirements for many significant orchid genera
    • Vanilla Bean Culture and Production
    • Greenhouse Management for Orchids
  8. Harvest and Special Project On One Group Of Orchids.
    • Writing a schedule for production of an Orchid Crop
    • Harvest and Post Harvest of Selected Orchid Cut Flowers; bud opening, transport, storing flowers, etc
    • Cattleya, Cymbidium, Dendrobium

What You Will Do

  • Compile a resource file or organisations and information sources relevant to orchids.
  • Obtain and orchid flower; draw and label this flower.
  • Review 56 different orchid species in detail.
  • Obtain soil from two different areas (two different types of soils). Using the tests in the Lesson notes, do the following, name each of these soils and test the drainage of each soil.
  • Obtain (or make up) a potting mix which you consider appropriate for growing orchids.
  • Visit a nursery or garden growing orchids. Notice how and where these plants are growing.
  • Determine which plants are healthiest and assess the conditions in which they are growing.
  • Obtain enough plant material to propagate four different orchids. Propagate these orchids vegetatively.
  • Visit a nursery, or some other place which sells a wide range of different types of pots.
  • Consider the properties of the pots you see for sale and their suitability for growing orchids in.Note down the prices of each.
  • Investigate further into tissue culture processes specific to Orchids beyond the notes offered in the course.
  • Determine which species of orchids are most commonly sold in your locality.
  • Carry out research and look through any references you have and determine any orchid genera (not yet covered in this course), which are suited to growing in a tropical or sub-tropical climate.
  • Visit a native plant nursery which sells a range of native orchids. List at least
    • 5 native orchid varieties which are being grown in your locality.
  • Visit a florist shop. Notice what orchids are being sold; how they are presented for sale, how they are stored etc
  • Evaluate the cultural practices observed (or investigated) in the 2 different enterprises which you considered in your set task.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS
ACS operates a student bookshop that supplies a range of horticulture texts to supplement our courses.
Many are written by the principal (well known gardening author John Mason), or other staff. All have been reviewed and approved by our academic experts (to be accurate and relevant to students studying our horticulture courses).
  • Student discounts are available to anyone studying with ACS Distance Education.
  • Both printed books and ebooks (as downloads) available
ORCHIDS: A BEGINNERS GUIDE by John Mason  (publisher: Hyland House)  Printed Book
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Why Grow Orchids?

The climbing genus Vanilla,(there are over 100 species in the vanilla genus)- has one very well-known form- Vanilla planiflora- the source of Vanilla flavouring (from the pods).
 
Tubers from some genera (e.g. Orchis, Dactylorhiza & Eulophia) are used in a dried form in parts of Europe and Asia for medicinal and culinary purposes.
 
Many orchid genera are important as ornamental plants, cultivated as indoor plants, greenhouse plants and cut flowers. Some are grown in pots or the ground out of doors, even in cooler climates; though the greatest use as an outdoor plant is in the sub tropics or tropics.The genus Cymbidium is for example, the most widely grown in southern Australia.
  

What Conditions Do Orchids Need?

 
Water
The amount of watering will depend on the species, the season, temperatures, wind / protection, the natural rainfall, and the stage of growth of the plants you are watering. Some species' natural habitat are swamp lands that are frequently or seasonally inundated. For these orchids, mimicking the wet conditions, at the right time of year, is very important (e.g. Phaius tankervilliae).
 
Others orchids may come from cool mountainous districts where winter enforces dormancy. Growers of these orchids would need to duplicate a cold winter to obtains good flowering and growth of their plants.
 
Orchids from dry regions like Western Australia will have a distinct hot dry summer. It is a good idea to check the details of the climate of the orchids you are growing experience in their native growing areas. Some will have damp or rain at different times of the growing cycle, other periods of dryness and dormancy others periods of extended humidity combined often with hot temperatures.
 
Epiphytic and lithophytic orchids generally require excellent drainage but a fairly constant air moisture.
 
If you have an understanding of the natural conditions your orchids are adapted to, then you can usually predict with a high degree of success the amount and timing of water applications that they would prefer too.
 
As a general rule, all orchids in flower or actively growing will require regular watering, however, excess watering will cause root death, increased likelihood of disease occurrence, and possibly rotting of the entire plant. For plants that are adapted to rainforest conditions, high humidity may be very important, so regular fine, mist sprays of water may be needed. For orchids adapted to more arid conditions, less regular, perhaps heavier watering may be appropriate.

 

Temperature 

As with watering there is great variation in preferred temperatures between different types of orchids. Once again if you have a good idea of the natural conditions to which the orchids you are growing, or wish to grow, are adapted to, then you will have a good idea of what conditions to provide. In general the majority of the epiphytic species are found in sub-tropical and tropical climates, while the majority of terrestrial orchids are found in sub-tropical to temperate climates. These are generalisations, however, and there can be significant variations to this, for example, some tropical zone orchids may
be found at high altitude, where night temperatures can approach zero degrees centigrade.
 
Many orchids require low temperatures to initiate flowering, so it may be necessary to ensure that night temperatures are 5-10° centigrade cooler than average day temperatures. Many orchids from warmer areas have optimum growing temperatures in the range of 20-30°C., with active growth at temperatures above 15°C. For orchids adapted to cooler climates, growth may begin at temperatures as low as 5-10°C. At temperatures over 30°C. few orchids will thrive. To achieve optimum growth it is important to maintain temperatures that are neither too high nor too low.
 
Temperature is most readily controlled in a growing structure, such as a greenhouse, or protected shade house, where mechanisms such as heaters, evaporative coolers, misting systems, exhaust fans, adjustable vents can be used. Dampening down the floor of the growing structure will increase the humidity of the air and reduce high temperatures instantly.
 
On a small scale, protected positions that offer a little more warmth than general surrounding conditions may be used. This may be as simple as placing your plants under a tree to minimise risk of frost exposure, under the eaves of a house (but being careful to ensure adequate watering), or on a protected window sill (inside or outside) as long as too much light isn't received.

 

Who will benefit from this course?

Any one who is interested in growing orchids will benefit from doing this course. Information provided in this course will help the home gardener who has a passion for growing orchids, and would like to better understand the different varieties and their cultural requirements, through to the commercial producer growing them as cut flowers or supplying the nursery industry.

 
 
 

Find Out More about Orchids -Talk with one of our Horticulturists.
 
 
Explore the potential of these plants; and how you can learn about orchids through this course.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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