Here's my raft project in the beginning stages today. I thought I should get it ready so that the plants can recover from mounting before I set them up in the tree for their permanent home.
I made the little lattice out of bamboo but didn't let it cure long enough, so found that the hot glue didn't hold very well. I augmented with zip ties. Next time I'll cut the bamboo sooner and let it cure in the sun so it's not so green and wet.
I'm thinking each plant needs a pad - or sandwich? - of coco fiber, just so the roots aren't completely 'out there'. Is this just my traditional gardener's aversion to seeing bare roots waving around in the breeze? These are all Bc. Little Lulu plants so like lots of light and sparing water. They will have regular misting but will be up in the breeze on a big ol' (about 1ft. diameter) live oak branch.
I would think they would benefit from a more dense raft. In nature orchids are able to grip onto something Some roots dangle but the ones that grip onto trees or rocks help the plant retain more moisture and are able to trap debris that then fertilizes the plant.
Laurel, I guess I should really call it a trellis, rather than a raft. I'm going to attach the plants to it, then glue the raft directly to the bark of the (big, thick) branch, so it's not going to be hanging. The raft is just a way to better attach the plants to the tree branch until they can get their roots attached to that nice deeply crennelated bark. The roots will be pretty close to touching the bark as soon as the raft is mounted.
Here's a pic of the branch. I was wrong, it's about 18in. thick. I hung my first attempt bamboo trellis up there just to see how it fit. The larger diagonal lattice (above) is more flexible and will lay against the branch better.
Hm, if I could figure out how to fasten the 'chids to the tree branch so they wouldn't fall off before their roots attach, I'd love to forget about using the raft altogether. Ideas? My plan was to zip-tie the orchids to the bamboo, then glue the whole thing to the bark.
I want to use these pretty little Brassavolas because once they grab onto the tree, they're going to be there for good. (for better or for worse?) Plus I'm pretty confident they'll adapt. Plus I got them for a song, so I can use five of them to make a clump up there on that branch. If I used Vandas I'd be fretting about bringing them in for the winter, etc.
Think how pretty that branch will look if they spread along it and make a nice little colony . . that's the best case scenario.
Elaine, I have Brassavolas mounted on log sections and love the way they look. My suggestion is to cut a plastic pot in half and cut out all or most of the bottom too. Now you will have a flexible piece of sturdy plastic. Drill or punch large holes in the plastic wall and mount the half pot to the tree. You can either tie it or use electrical or fence staples. Using some potting medium, pot the orchid so that it is against the tree. By the end of summer you can remove the pot, letting the medium fall away. I've seen this done with sawn or broken terracotta which looks nice. If you use terracotta the roots will stick so the pot is usually left in place.
OKay! excellent idea. Instead of using half plastic pots, which wouldn't look great until I could remove the pots, how about stapling or gluing a pocket of coco fiber sheeting - basket liner material - directly to the branch? It would be less obvious and also fall away of its own accord in time. The branch is directly in the line of sight from the gravel walkway that goes around the house. It's going to bug me to look at plastic pots up there, I think.
I could secure it with a piece of the bird netting, and use short staples for that, so it wouldn't harm the bark on the branch.
I certainly have some homework and experimenting to do, here! Stay tuned! Btw, I'm not worrying about these plants drying out, I have an easy way to set up an automatic mister for them when I'm traveling. The 'chids seem to love the occasional drink of our well water. (although they almost always get rainwater - which I'm running out of lately!)
I just ploped a piece of my gerberara on a limb, put a bit of moss over the roots, and tied it on with strips of pantyhose. Then I draped a bit of spanish moss around it for looks and humidity. Both the Gerberara and the spanish moss are thriving.
Carol, your method is what I'm going to try first. If I can get the plants to stay on the branch just with fiber and netting, that would be ideal, but I may use my little lattice frame if they won't stay put. My problem is I don't have enough panty hose to go around that huge branch.
Everything does stay nice and green, even in cold weather under the tree canopy there. The evil air potato vines stay alive longer up in the tree than they do in the garden, too. That branch is somewhat protected from the north winds by the house, so I have hopes that the cold won't get these little 'chids.
Here's my raft project in situ. I still may move it around a bit on the branch to get just the right light hitting the plants, but these pics were taken at 12:30 today so pretty much max sunlight and they are in a nice dappled shade.
The garland of Spanish moss fell across the branch a few days after I placed the plants, so took it as an omen, and made use of it. Once the tree finishes leafing out, I may remove it. Still, it might provide some insulation for winter, too. I can remove it for the summer, and replace it when the nights start getting cold, I suppose.
There are 4 plants up there, each in a little coco fiber envelope. They've all put out new roots and one has a spike since I hung them up there, so it looks like they are happy! The ugly bamboo pole is just a temporary mount for the mister that will keep them happy while we are away. I'm hanging the rest of the Brassavola collection under there, too so they'll all get misted nicely while we're away. My David Sander has two spikes!