Dividing calanthe orchids

1) We are besotted with calanthes which are an obliging ground orchid suitable for humus rich woodland areas which do not get too frosty or cold. Mark is out digging and dividing them right now, though he feels he should have been onto it in June or July. He is having to take great care not to break off the flower spikes which are showing now.

2) When the clumps are teased apart, it becomes clear that each section of foliage has a chain of rhizomes attached.

3) Break the rhizomes apart with care. Each will form a new plant. Discard any soft or mushy rhizomes. While these orchids will make a full set of new roots each year, leaving the old ones on at this time gives something to anchor the nubbly rhizome into place when you replant it.

4) The top rhizome of the chain will have the foliage attached. Leave this intact and attached to the first rhizome. Replant in well cultivated soil with plenty of compost or humus added. As the rhizomes tend to run along very close to, or on the surface, they only need to be lightly covered but they need well tilled soil below to get their roots down. The division with foliage will still flower this year. The dormant rhizomes should come into growth soon and some may flower next year, the remainder the year after.

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