What’s the best way to reinforce the message that Fernwood’s New Zealand tree fern is an outstanding substrate for growing orchids? By asking the experts to give it a try! Award-winning orchid grower Allan Watson from Taranaki, New Zealand has agreed to do a two year growing trial using Fernwood Tree Fern substrate.
Allan Watson is an avid orchid grower specializing in growing Miltoniopsis as well as having other mixed genera in his collection of more than 1000 plants. Allan is a longstanding member of the Taranaki Orchid Society, the largest single society membership within the New Zealand Orchid Council structure, with 75 current members.
Miltoniopsis breathless ‘from love’
He became serious about collecting orchids twelve years ago, when he moved back to New Plymouth with his wife Jenny. Being part of the local society was a quick way to build up his collection of plants, as members are all collectors who are always keen to expand and share with others.
Allan has agreed to take part in a two-year trial growing a selection of plants in Fernwood NZ Tree Fern substrate. “There’s immense satisfaction in coaxing a stubborn plant to finally flower, because some orchids can be difficult to grow successfully,” he says. “Having the largest private collection of Miltoniopsis in terms of variety, some 42 Hybrids and one species in a collection of 100 plants, an “apples to apples” approach could be applied to a controlled trial. It seemed too good an opportunity to turn down,” Allan says.
He is quite proud of the fact that two of the Miltoniopsis he has grown were the only ones in New Zealand to receive an award in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Mps Taranaki Pride AM/NZOC 2018 and Mps. Breathless ‘From Love’ HCC/ NZOC.
Miltoniopsis Taranaki Pride
“If you want to grow plants that are worthy of an award, you need to find the best conditions in which they will grow and develop.” As Allan is retired, he says he has the time to focus on this project, and provide some meaningful data and outcomes. This trial dovetails into a couple of other orchid projects that Allan has on the go involving the testing of fertilizer systems and the promotion of Miltoniopsis culture in New Zealand.
“I am approaching this project with an open mind, as I understand other hobby growers have used the product with success. It will be good to post some conformation fact,” he says. The initial trial will involve 20 Miltoniopsis being grown in Bark pumice mix, along with 20 of the same cross Miltoniopsis being grown in the Tree Fern Orchid Substrate. Other genera will be introduced to the trial as the plants are being divided. Allan says that any trial needs to have measurements of success or failure recorded, otherwise the value of end results can become hearsay. To achieve this, he has developed an excel spreadsheet tool to monitor the results. Watch this space for further info on the trial as it progresses.