Record Keeping

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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

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

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

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 plants.


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!

Regina Chandler


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