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Orchids Cultivation




Recovery of Phalaenopsis plants of the ocean containers after long-term transportation


The number of Phalaenopsis plants being imported to the United States is increasing. The recovery of the plants from the ocean containers with the long-term transportation is important to obtain the high quality flowers.

The special environments of containers for long-term transportation by ocean include the following:1) no light, water and nutrients; 2) limited air ventilation; 3) low temperature, usually below 20; and 4) variation in humidity.

There are two types of packing method: box and trolley (Figures 1 and 2). The advantage of the box method is that the packaging materials can absorb the vapor and prevent the spread of disease; the disadvantage is that it requires more labor for unloading plants. The advantage of the trolley method is the easy in unloading the Phalaenopsis in-pot; the disadvantage is easier spread of disease if some plants have been infected.

The health conditions of Phalaenopsis due to the long-term transportation are short- and long-term effects. The short-term effects are freezing damage (cold damage) and the infection with Erwinia or Fusarium. The long-term effects are from the lack of carbon source (photosynthesis function) and the dry matter loss (respiration and metabolism function).

The indirect damages due to the long-term transportation are loss of activity. Because of the lack of the carbon source, the dry matter of plants is lost. The other damage is due to the unbalance in C/N ratio. If the moisture and fertilizer of the medium are maintained at high concentrations, the roots still absorb water and fertilizer in the dark environment. However, the carbon source is unavailable. So the C/N ratio is changed and the leaves are weak.

The ideal conditions for long-term transportation of Phalaenopsis are as follows:

1. Plants are kept in the dormancy stage.

2. No activity of microorganisms.

3. Moisture content of the medium is kept at safe level.

4. The air environment (temperature, humidity and ventilation) is maintained uniformly with no stagnant air.

Before long-term transportation, the preparation of Phalaenopsis in-pot in thr growing stage should be able to keep plants healthy and keep the plants in a clean environment without virus and disease.

Pretreatment of Phalaenopsis in-pot aims to reduce the EC value in the medium by flushing and the water content in the medium by ventilation. To control the moisture content in the medium, plants in-pot could loss weight by transpiration of orchids and by evaporation of the medium. Transpiration has only a marginal effect; the evaporation of the medium is the major effect. Evaporation rate of medium and air relative humidity are linearly related. So the predetermined moisture content of the medium could be adjusted by measuring and controlling the air relative humidity of the greenhouse.

After lowering the moisture content of medium, pretreatment involves reducing the light intensity in the greenhouse with shading nets, reducing the plant temperature in the working (processing) room and packaging plants for shipping.

The process of pretreating for Phalaenopsis in-pot for transportation as follows:















The Recovery process of Phalaenopsis in-pot is presented as follows:

1.  Reverse steps









2. Spiking steps






The detailed procedures of recovery include controlling temperature, light intensity, watering and fertilizing.

The injuring temperature rate for Phalaenopsis is 3/hr. Before unloading the plants with box or trolley, the temperature difference between plants and ambient air should be < 3. Never place plants in high temperature and high solar intensity directly. The recommend initial light intensity is from 3000-5000 lux for the first two days. The recommend quantity of water is just enough to soak the medium, with more water supplied a second time.

The fertilizing concentrations are increased step by step:

1. The first time: Peters 20-20-20, 167 ppm

2. The second time: Peters 20-20-20, 250 ppm

3. The third time: Peters 20-20-20, normal.

Plants could adapt to the lower temperature environment during the transportation. If these plants are placed directly in the cooling room to enhance spiking, the spiking rate is poor and the required time for spiking becomes longer, then the number of flowers is decreased.

The adequate steps for spiking include the following,

1.  Recovery by the above step.

2. Treat with high temperature and high light intensity.

3. Move to the cooling room for spiking.



Figure 1. Box packing method




Figure 2. Trolley packing method