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How to Attach an Orchid to a Tree: Encouraging Orchids to Thrive by Grafting
Grafting is a horticultural process in which the tissue from one plant is inserted into the tissues of another to form a symbiotic union. In the case of attaching an orchid like the Phalaenopsis Orchid (also called the Moth Orchid because it resembles a moth in flight) to a tree, the grafting is more of a binding process so that the orchid can establish its root system and live in conjunction with the tree.
It is common to see this process in the gardens of a tropical climate. If you live in Southern California or Florida, this is an ideal addition to your landscaping.
Here are a few things to consider when grafting a Phalaenopsis orchid to a tree:
Provide an Ideal Environment
In the case of a Phalaenopsis Orchid, the flower is not parasitic. The orchid does not consume the tree to survive. Instead, the Phalaenopsis Orchid uses tree bark, like that on a palm, to lodge its roots and collect matter necessary to thrive. The root system survives on decaying leaves and insects. Orchids take in water through mist or rain trickling down the tree.
Some orchids do not like direct sunlight. Direct sun can burn and even kill your prized orchids. Light should be filtered and indirect. This is why orchids grow well attached to trees: the tree offers shade to protect the plant.
There are species of orchids that thrive in direct sunlight. The Schomburgika tibicinus, or the Flute's Player Orchid, is one of those species that can handle bright sunlight. It is important to research the species intended for your landscape.
Match the Natural Climate
Orchids thrive in a climate that matches their natural environment, so a subtropical climate like Southern Florida and the Florida Keys is perfect. You will want to match the climate they prefer in your garden before attempting to attach an orchid to a tree.
How to Graft or Bind an Orchid to a Tree in Your Garden
First, you need to inspect the root system of the orchid you want to bind to the tree. Remove any dead roots and loosen the root system so air circulates freely. Wrap the roots loosely in sphagnum moss. Spritz the root bundle with a mixture of water and orchid fertilizer.
Choose a Tree
Choose the tree that you will graft your orchid to. You want to choose the side of the tree that faces south. By placing your Phalaenopsis Orchid in a south-facing direction, you protect the plant from cooler north winds.
Trees like the oak, palm, mango trees, and avocado trees are good choices since their bark is rough and will support the flowers well.
Create an Opening
Using a sharp and clean knife, make a slice in the bark of the tree. You are creating an opening for the orchid to support itself. Think of this cut in the bark as a pocket to nest your Phalaenopsis Orchid. Remove the top half of the sliced bark while keeping the bottom half of the bark attached to the tree.
Secure the Orchid
Place the orchid into the pocket of the bark that you have created and tie it securely to the tree with nylon or natural string. The string supports the orchid until it can establish a secure footing in the tree.
Check the tightness of the string periodically. You may need to loosen the string to allow for better root growth. Once the orchid has rooted itself firmly, remove the string. You can place the orchids on tree trunks, the fork of a branch and trunk, or in the branches of the trees.
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Experimentation Is Encouraged
Experiment with the orchids in your tree gardens. What works best in one area may not take as well in another. Springtime is the best time to graft orchids to your trees. This way, the plant has the whole summer to establish itself. Mist and fertilize your orchid plantings on a regular basis to keep them healthy.
A Gorgeous and Easy-to-Care-for Flower
Whether or not you decide to graft an orchid to a tree, remember that orchids can be grown quite easily indoors as well. For avid gardeners in cold weather climates, the orchid is a perfect flower to grow inside. They require very little attention and are gorgeous additions to the home. Orchids make great gifts. They are great for birthday gifts, housewarming presents, and for Mother's Day.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Mary on April 15, 2018:
Instead of spagnum can Florida moss be used if sterilized or not sterilized.
Thelma Alberts from Germany on October 06, 2012:
I love orchids. I have some orchids in my garden in the Philippines and they are fixed together in the trees. I have not try grafting orchids to the trees the way you do. My mother used to put the orchids inside a coconut husk and bind them on the trees. That´s what I´m doing, but I´ll try the way you graft because I still have lots of new orchids. Thanks for this hub, I learned a lot. Voted up and useful.
hi friend from India on May 31, 2012:
wonderful and awesome
Corey (author) from Northfield, MA on May 30, 2012:
Of course you may link it and thanks for asking, I am not as polite as you are and just use the suggest links tool to link articles to my hubs. However, now that I know you have an orchid hub I may be following in your footsteps. Have a fantastic day!
Mary Hyatt from Florida on May 30, 2012:
Hi, just came back to reread this Hub. It's such a good Hub on grafting orchids. May I link this Hub to my about my Cattelya orchid? I'm going to share with my followers, too. Have a great day.
Corey (author) from Northfield, MA on May 13, 2012:
I love orchids, too, and fell in love with the idea of growing them on a tree when I was in Key West. Hope this is a project that you will try.
Mary Hyatt from Florida on May 13, 2012:
What a wonderful idea! I grow orchids, but never thought about grafting one to a tree. One of my daughters gave me a Cattleya orchid several years ago for Mother's day, and it still blooms every Mother's Day. I wrote a Hub about it. When you have some time, check it out. The orchid is one of my favorite plants. This Hub was very informative, and I'll vote it UP, etc.