Every hobby has its tools. And just as you need the right saws and sanders if you’re building a cabinet, you need the right tools for growing orchids. The amount of tools you need will depend on how serious you are about orchids and haw many of them you have to care for. In this chapter, I fill you in on the tools I use.
Cutting and Pruning Tools
You’ll probably use your cutting and pruning tools more than any others. Orchids always have a leaf that needs to be trimmed or a dead or diseased stem that needs to be cut off. These tools are also used in the repotting process.
You’ll need different types of pruning tools, depending on the thickness of the plant part you’re removing.
You’ll use hand pruners to cut thick creeping stems. There are basically two types of hand pruners. An anvil type of hand pruner has a flat cutting blade and can mash the stem tissue (which isn’t what you want). I much prefer the other type of hand pruner — the bypass type, which has a curved blade. It makes cleaner and closer cuts.
All scissors are not created equal. I prefer those that are designed for bonsai or flower arranging. They’re extremely sharp and have large, comfortable vinyl hand
grips. Some are made of high-carbon steel that hold an edge for a long time. Others are constructed of stainless steel and offer the advantage of not rusting. The smaller scissors are really handy for finesse work, like removing spent flower spikes as close as possible to the foliage and trimming delicate leaves. The heavier ones are ideal for cutting thick stems.
Knives and blades
Knives and blades can come in very handy, but choosing the right type is important. In the following sections, I guide you through the types available.
Knives are used most often to circle the inside of the pot to remove the plant when its roots are packed into its container, especially with clay pots. (You can usually cut plastic pots with sharp scissors along the length of the pot to remove the plant.) A very-thin-bladed knife, like the type used for filleting fish, is very handy because it’s easier to maneuver in tight spaces.
To be on the safe side, always use the single-edge type of razor blade. They’re perfect for making very precise cuts when trimming edges of leaves or cutting apart divisions of plants. Another great feature of these is that they’re so inexpensive
that you can throw them away after you’re done. Disposing of used razor blades also prevents spreading disease to other plants and saves you the hassle of sterilizing them.
Hand pruning saw
Using a hand pruning saw is bringing out the big gun. This tool is most useful to cut very thick creeping stems when dividing plants. You can also use them to score the roots when they’re very tightly packed together or to cut away a very thick plastic pot when you’re transplanting or repotting an orchid.
You can find various different types of these saws, but the ones
that are compact and folding are most handy. I find a small bladed
and fine-toothed type often used for cutting bamboo especially