The tools and supplies in this section make the potting process easier. For specific potting techniques and guidelines.
Potting is a combination of force and finesse. These tools make the process easier and more effective.
Regular steel-clawed hammers can be useful for breaking clay pots containing overgrown plants that can’t be removed any other way. But for most purposes, a rubber mallet comes in more handy. It’s used frequently to pound in stakes or clamps that hold newly transplanted or divided orchids in their pots.
Dibbles and planting sticks
Getting the potting material to settle in around the roots of the orchids is important because large air spaces can cause the orchid roots to dry out or not form properly. Dibbles and planting sticks are used to push the potting material into these air spaces.
Torches for sterilizing tools
Dirty cutting and potting tools can spread diseases. Preventing disease by sterilizing any tools that come in direct contact with orchid root and leaf tissue is always a good idea. You can use chemical solutions to do this (for instance, a 1:10 ratio of household bleach to water), but chemicals are very corrosive and some are toxic. A very simple way to sterilize metal tools is to flame them with a
propane or butane torch. Both are available in small handheld sizes.
The orchid tag that comes with the orchid or the one you make yourself contains very important information that you want to protect. Knowing the correct name of the orchid is crucial information when you’re looking up cultural information. Also, many times the tag includes the orchid’s parents’ names, which can also provide helpful cultural clues. If you want to enter your orchid in a show, it may be disqualified without proper labeling.
So the important message is: Keep a legible label in the pots of all your orchids. Maintaining a separate list of your orchids is also a good idea. To make it easier, assign numbers to each of your plants and place this number on the label. This serves as a safety net in case the label is damaged or lost.
Many types of labels are available, in all different sizes and colors. Which size or color you choose is a personal choice — the material they’re made of is a more important consideration.
Using the right marker can mean the difference between being able to read the name of the orchid three years after you bought it and not. Table 3-2 lists some advantages and disadvantages of each type.
Clips and stakes
Numerous types of stakes and clamps are used to hold the orchid in its pot when it has been transplanted and its roots are inadequate, by themselves, to anchor the plant. Figure 3-2 shows some samples of metal stakes. Bamboo stakes are also available.