Cut Flower Orchids

Course CodeVHT240
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn to Orchid Care as a Cut Flower Crop

Orchids occur naturally from very cold temperate climates through to tropical locations; and provided you choose appropriate species and treat them according to location, it is feasible to grow orchids as cut flowers almost anywhere. Orchids are one of the most commercially viable cut flower crops (partially due to their beauty, and also due to their long shelf life). Learn how to produce orchid flowers for the cut flower trade.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction - Plant classification, naming of plants, parts of the flower.
  2. Culture - Basket, epiphytes, media.
  3. Propagation A - Methods, materials, equipment.
  4. Propagation B (Tissue Culture) - Techniques, application, culture nutrients.
  5. Greenhouse Management A - Environmental controls, beds & benches, carbon dioxide.
  6. Greenhouse Management B - Temperature, irrigation, cooling, ventilation, etc.
  7. Pest and Disease Control & Identification
  8. Management, Harvest and Post-Harvest
    • - Harvesting, post harvest, standards, layout, production costs.
  9. Marketing - Marketing the product, valuable orchids, international markets.
  10. Detailed study of one species or group of orchids.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Explain the plant naming system, identify flower parts and compile resources.
  • Describe cultural techniques applicable to orchid growing.
  • Describe propagation techniques used for orchids.
  • Explain tissue culture propagation techniques.
  • Describe protected plant production facilities suited to orchids.
  • Explain the day to day management of a greenhouse.
  • Manage Pests and diseases on an orchid flower crop
  • Explain management of an orchid enterprise and the harvest and post harvest of an orchid crop.
  • Explain marketing techniques used for cut flower orchids.
  • Describe a major orchid group

HARVEST AND POST HARVEST OF ORCHIDS

Flowers perish easily and are generally fragile, by correct harvest and post harvest handling procedures the grower ensures a clean and quality crop as well as prolonging the bloom time. Sterilise equipment during harvest to prevent premature petal drop and the spread of bacteria.

Different species need to be harvested differently, and treated differently after harvest. The time at which you harvest depends upon the stage of growth which the plants are at; but it can also be affected by market demand. (eg. you may decide to harvest plants before they reach an optimum stage because you can get more for the flowers at that earlier time when demand is higher).

Some flowers should be opened well before the buds open; and the buds then open later on. This makes transport easier, and sometimes means that the flowers last longer. For other flowers, the flower must be at least partially opened. It might not open if harvested too earlier. The grower needs to have a very good knowledge of how the flower continues to develop after harvest.

Bud opening
Buds are stimulated to open by different things. For many plants, heat will stimulate bud opening; so keeping the plant cool is important if you wish to delay bud opening.
Special solutions can be used to help regulate bud opening, extend the life of the flower and discourage disease attacking and rotting the stems. This is particularly important on some types of flowers when they are picked early.
Solutions often contain sugars to compensate (partly) for inadequate food reserves available to the buds, and a sterilant such as sodium hypochlorite, to kill disease organisms in the water.
The strength of chemicals used can be critical. Some flowers are damaged by concentrations which are ideal for others. These solutions need appropriate temperatures to be absorbed by the plant. At very low temperatures they will not be absorbed, so cool stored plants may be sometimes put into a warmer situation for a period before cool storage to allow absorption.

Conditioning for market
Flowers sometimes need to be "hardened up" before packing and sending off to market. This may involve standing in "cold" water to allow turgidity to reach optimum level (ie. maximum amount of water in the plant tissue), before they are packed dry and sent to market. A solution containing a flower preservative and bactericide is often used in the water at this stage.

REQUIREMENTS (IN BRIEF) OF SELECTED ORCHID GENERA

 

 

 

GENERA

 

 

MINIMUM

TEMPERATURE

Celcius

HABIT

 

 

WHERE TO GROW

REQUIREMENTS

 

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 slabs

Medium

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

Masdavillea

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 slabs

70‑80%

Pleonie

10 or lower

Epiphytic or

terrestrial

Pots

 

Mild‑Medium

Vanda

12‑20

 

Epiphytes

 

Usually slabs sometimes pots

Essential in summer

 

Zygopetalum

12‑15

Epiphytes

Pots, baskets or slabs

Mild

 

WHO SHOULD DO THIS COURSE?

  • Cut flower growers
  • Indoor plant growers
  • Hobbyists and enthusiasts

 


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