Record keeping is an important part of orchid growing. Unnamed plants do
not please the judges, and it could prove a stumbling block in providing the correct
cultural needs. Noting an orchid's history and progress can assist in improving the
quality of the plant. As we know, observation is a very powerful tool. Meticulous records
are particularly important when breeding.
Catalogue cards are very useful for recording such information as date,
place and cost of purchase, awards, type of media, pots and fertiliser used, potting on
and flowering dates, position in shade house, special growing requirements and general
progress etc., for each plant. A blank recipe card and box set with alphabetical sections
is ideal for this purpose. The lid on the plastic box will protect it from any moisture,
so it can be taken temporarily to the shade house for use. Otherwise, a simple plywood box
can be made to house the cards, or even an exercise book with a page for each plant would
suffice. With a large number of plants, it's impossible to rely on your memory, and you
can only fit so much data on the labels.
Stock lists typed and sorted alphabetically into natives, species and
hybrids, are handy to take with you when purchasing plants, so as not to double up. Also
take the list to orchid shows, so you can mark any prize-winners you may have in your
collection. You can also cross-reference your hybrids, so you have an alphabetical list of
all crosses in plants.
Plant labels have a habit of becoming lost! A good idea is to write
another small one and bury it in the bottom of the pot. You may prefer to number plants
only, and record numbers on the cards. When you notice broken or faded labels, replace
them immediately. Use an indelible pencil. If you do have any unnamed plants, make an
effort to identify them when in flower. There are now handy coloured labels on the market,
so make use of them and colour code according to your own requirements:- eg. you may want
to code species, native and hybrids, according to potting medium, or to indicate resting
Photograph each plant in your collection when it flowers, and write the
name on the back immediately. Photos are invaluable to display when selling plants not in
flower, or to assist in breeding or identification. These are best stored with their
catalogue cards for easy reference, or in a separate album.
So, with a minimum of fuss, you will be organised in no time, and have all
the information you need at your fingertips!