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CALANTHE

Calanthe is a large genera but there are only a few species that are both hardy and have underground pseudo-bulbs. These in the main are woodland plants from China and Japan and it is in Japan that the majority of the development of this genera, its species and hybrids has taken place. Until 2015 all the plants offered in the UK came from China. Now the majority of the plants that are offered are from one grower in the Netherlands. They have been grown in controlled conditions in a greenhouse. This has encouraged rapid growth and plants in flower in a relative short period of time. Plants offered are in 13 cm pots and because of the rapid growth the flower buds are above the pot level by the autumn. This is not the usual method of growth. These calanthe are evergreen in this country and the leaves only die off if there is a heavy frost. The majority flower in the spring. Because plants will have come from a controlled environment it is important to ensure they are fully hardened off before planting out; especially if they have been induced to flower earlier than normal. Plants purchased in the spring can either be grown in a pot or in the garden. Plants can be immediately repotted unless they are in full flower (to avoid flower spikes breaking). they should be put in a pot no larger than 17cm. Normally I would use a plastic pot as terracotta dries out too quickly. Currently I use a mix of coir, Melcourt Potting Compost and some fine grit. Slow release fertilizer is added to the mix. Plants should be well watered when repotted and watered well thoughout the growing season. Pots should be kept in a shady position during the summer. The flower spike develops before the leaf sheath fully opens. Depending on the temperature flower spikes will last for several weeks and at the end the leaves will be fully grown. At this stage the base of the stem swells and then the new growth develops. The plant continues growing until late into the autumn. I spray all the calanthe with Rainmix fertilizer at least one a week. With potted plants it is not easy to get enough water into the pot so I recommend the pot is stood in a saucer or trough. Plants planted out should be planted in a "woodland" soil which remains damp but not water-logged. Find a place that is in semi-shade. Because the plants have been raised using large amounts of feed I recommend putting slow release fertilizer in the soil and adding some fine bark or coir. If the plants are being grown in an area prone to hard frosts a layer of bark mulch would give some protecting to the new growths. In both situations the old leaves should be cut off at ground level in late March. Plants can be divided in the autumn when the growth is finished.

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