Frosts and cold damage. We just had our coldest day in 30 years.
So in South Eastern Australia we usually break a cold record every 15-30 years.
So that means, unless you have measures in place ,your collection is going to cop a cold bite badly every 15 years.
So what can you do.
1/ Have a carry tray ready every winter to bring inside your favourite gems of orchids ,Avrils Golds ETC
2/ Dont live in Canberra
3/ Have a hard cover over your shadehouse for winter, frost will go through shadecloth.
4/ Dont grow orchids without heavy protection if you live on the INSIDE of the great diving range.
An example of this was 25 years ago at Mandurang Orchids near Bendigo Victoria.
Cymbidiums, Laelias, Sarcochilus and Aussie Dendrobiums all froze to death at minus 7.C
Once it gets that low,there is nothing to do. Even if the frost needle crystals are not present that damage will still be done. The above photos are of extreme cold death and damage.
What else can you do?
5/ Run a fan. Moving, mixed air tends to be a little warmer and frost crytals cant grow.
6/ If your growing area is enclosed, run a small cheap 2kw fan heater. It may cost you $20 in Juice for the night ,but thats better than all the damage a valuable orchid collection mat strike. Keep the heater on a bed of bricks or concrete for extra safety and to create a warmth bank.I have known two collection to be detroyed by these heaters going up in flames. If using an extension cord to reach the growing area,electrically tape the connections.
7/ Have a large fish pond or barrels of water in your growing area. Frosty nights are accompanied by sunny days so the water can heat up and store warmth.
8/ Place a cheap $28 Aquarium heater in a barrel or large container of water.
9/ Never, ever water on a still sunny day in winter!!! Frosts may come and all that water wont be evaporated by night and will freeze on the foliage.
Water on a windy overcast day. Even if it means weeks without watering
We are currently watering only every 2-3 weeks. Even the weeds wilt. But great roots are produced on the orchids chasing water!
10/ If you live in a colder area dont try to grow Genera not suited to your area.
We use the word Temperate Grower for anything thats needs strong winter protection.
Part Three soon! With the latest photos on the damage.