12 new houseplants allowed in NZ

Last year NZ Plant Producers Inc (NZPPI) made an application for the release of 12 houseplant species, mostly tropical species and including one (jewel) orchid. Nine of these plants are already in the country and have been seen on Trademe.  

Macodes petola is one of the so-called jewel orchids, primarily grown for their foliage. It is one of the 12 plants added to the approved list. Photo: Wikipedia

The Environmental Protection Authority granted that application on March 22. According to the Stuff report, it was the first full application accepted by the EPA in the 24 years since the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO) came into force.

Plumeria pudica is one of the 12 plants added to the approved list. One of its common names in bridal bouquet. Photo: Wikipedia

One of the upsides of the granting of this application is that it will help curtail smuggling which has the realistic chance of bringing a new disease and/or a new insect with it. Read the full Stuff story here and see the list of the 12 approved plants.


Plants of the World Online

An article in the February issue of the American Orchid Society journal, Orchids, introduces the Plants of the World Online website, run by the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.

This new searchable datebase combines the previous websites the World Checklist of Selected Families (WCSF) and the International Plant Name Index (IPNI) and is already expanded beyond those.

Many species have images with them, the location of herbarium species or both. And as before there are distribution maps, synonyms, etc.

As the name suggests, this is not just a searchable database for orchids, but for all plants.

A media release from Kew about POWO says, “With over 8.5 million items, Kew houses the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world in its Victorian Herbarium and Fungarium in West London. They represent over 95% of known flowering plant genera and more than 60% of known fungal genera and yet, only 20% of this knowledge is available online. The Plants of the World Online portal (POWO) is Kew’s way of turning 250 years of botanical knowledge into an open and accessible online global resource.”  

Orchids & More Newsletter 3

Things are moving along and although we haven’t quite got registration ready to open, we’re not far away. As soon as that’s finalised, you’ll be hearing from us.


The Orchids & More organisers are not recommending any accommodation providers or striking deals with any but we’re happy to let you know about the nearest accommodation options:
Jetpark Hotel, Hamilton Airport – within walking distance
Mystery Creek Motel – plus spots for self-contained caravans/campers
Narrows Park Campground – powered sites and cabins with bunks
Cambridge Top 10 Holiday Park – powered sites and a range of cabin types, some pretty smart
As well, there are sites like Air BnB and Bookabach to search for accommodation.

Hamilton city and Cambridge are only a short drive from Mystery Creek and both offer a wide range of accommodation types.

Orchids & More Programme

This information will be in the Registrants’ Handbook but we thought you might like to see how the long weekend will unfold.

Wednesday, September 27
8am-5pm                    Staging and set-up of displays
10am-5pm                  Plant entry open
Noon-6pm                   Set-up of commercial sales stands
3pm-6pm                    Registrant desk open at venue

Thursday, September 28
8.30am-9am               Judges’ briefing
9am-5pm                    Judging
2pm-5pm                    Registrant desk open at venue
5.30pm-7pm               Expo opening and prizegiving

Friday, September 29
9am-10am                  Registrant entry to show and sales
10am-4pm                  Registrant Lecture Series
10am-4pm                  Show open to public

Saturday, September 30
9am-10am                  Registrant entry to show and sales
10am-4pm                  Registrant Lecture Series
10am-4pm                  Show open to public
6.30pm for 7pm          Official dinner

Sunday, October 1
9am-10am                  Registrant entry to show and sales
10am-2pm                  Registrant Lecture Series
10am-3pm                  Show open to public, last admission 2pm.

Registrant Speaker Programme

Barring any unforeseen eventualities, this is now finalised. Sandra would like to thank all the speakers for their willingness to say ‘yes’ when approached. We look forward to hearing and seeing your presentations.

We have a great line-up of Kiwi speakers with a great deal of accumulated wisdom amongst them, as well as two guest speakers from overseas, Fred Clarke (Sunset Valley Orchids, USA) and Dennis Kao (Ching-Hua Orchids, Taiwan).

New Zealanders are Gael Donaghy (pictured right), chair of the NZ Native Orchid Group; Maurice Bycroft (Matamata); Murray Dean (New Plymouth); Torsten Kleffman (Dunedin); Caleb Lamond (Tauranga); Allan Rae (Palmerston North); and Allan Watson (New Plymouth).

Introducing Ninox Orchids, a Bronze Sponsor of Orchids & More

Hubert Muisers and Tania Langen emigrated to New Zealand from The Netherlands in January 2000, seeking a different lifestyle and some adventure. Six months later they had bought an export calla lily business in Whangārei  and started Ninox, the name inspired by the morepork/ruru (Ninox novaeseelandiae) and integrating an owl’s silhouette into their logo.

After a few years Hubert and Tania added hydrangeas to their business, followed in 2005 by mini-Cymbidium orchids, also for the export and local cut flower market, fully converting to orchid cut-flower production by 2008. “We started with Cymbidium varieties available in New Zealand,” Tania says, “adding newer varieties sourced in Australia and The Netherlands – this was also the time we got involved in the national orchid scene.”

Hubert Muisers and Tania Langen of Ninox Orchids.

Their greenhouse area grew from about 750m² in 2005 to 4,500m² by 2014 and since about 2015 Ninox has been working towards focusing on orchid pot plants for the New Zealand market. “As most of you know, orchids take their time to grow and flower which means it also takes a while to build up stock. Lately we have been adding some species orchids to the collection for the specialist hobby grower,” Tania says.

“Importing mature plants is very time consuming and expensive so importing tissue culture plants in-flask is the most economical and safe way, but it can still be a costly exercise. Also the time a seedling or tissue-culture plantlet takes to become a saleable  plant in flower is a minimum of 3 to 4 years.”

Most of the orchids they have imported since 2015 have come from the breeding powerhouses of The Netherlands, Taiwan and Thailand. “We also do a little bit of hybridising ourselves and run our own laboratory for seed sowing and tissue culture.”

Tania laughs as she admits their background in The Netherlands wasn’t in horticulture, “but we always both have been interested in growing and had a small collection of orchid plants”.

Ninox plants are available at a selection of garden centres throughout the country and they regularly attend orchid shows. A website is in development to aid direct sales.

“It would be nice if more and more people take up the challenges and pleasures of growing orchids and this will hopefully also help preserve the diverse but fragile collections of orchids in nature,” Tania says.

Thank you Tania and Hubert for this look at you business and also for your generous support of Orchids & More. We look forward to seeing you at Mystery Creek.

Stay in Touch

If you have any questions or would like to volunteer at the event, please drop us a line.

Thank you to our funders

An event like Orchids & More couldn’t take place without funding and sponsorship, so we’d like to take this opportunity to thank two of our funders for their supportive contributions.

Pub Charity ensures that funds raised in gaming machines in our venue operators’ hotels and taverns go back to support their local community wherever possible. We also fund a range of worthy national organisations that provide support to people all over New Zealand.

The Horticentre Charitable Trust was established in 2008 with the objective of providing a helping hand for the horticulture and viticulture sectors. The Horticentre Trust supports sector groups and growers in education, training, research & development, grower welfare and disaster relief.

Read more about these two organisations by clicking on the links. The Orchids & More organising team is very grateful for the funds received, which have been a welcome boost, both to our coffers and our confidence.

Orchids & More Newsletter 2

Our very best wishes to our friends in Northland, Auckland, Tairāwhiti Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay. Our thoughts are with you as you face the hard work ahead. Much love from us all at Orchids & More.

The Only Way is Up

I spent some time last week re-organising my Orchids & More online folder, creating sub-folders to make it easier to navigate and, by doing that, gave myself a bit of a surprise. Although we’ve plenty still to do, it turns out we’ve been working and achieving for a while, which was a nice boost to my confidence as we climb this mountain named Expo. And in a week when my hard drive was playing up (again, back to the shop) and my cellphone seemed to be hanging on to life by a thread, this was a comfort.

Together, we can make it happen!

10th National Orchid Expo Speakers

It’s with great pleasure that we can announce almost all the speakers for the registrants’ programme – Fred Clarke (Sunset Valley Orchids, USA, pictured left), Dennis Kao (Ching-Hua Orchids, Taiwan), as well as New Zealanders Dr Torsten Kleffman, Gael Donaghy, Allan Watson, Dr Allan Rae and Maurice Bycroft.

Our overseas guests will appear on the programme more than once. Their topics and timings will be available in the forthcoming Registrant Handbook, but we’ll also include it in a newsletter once it’s finalised, and give you some potted biographies.

We’re delighted that everyone approached was so willing to make the journey to Mystery Creek (sounds like the title of an exciting novel). Registrations are due to open next month (March).


Without wanting to sound like a broken record, we couldn’t do any of this without our sponsors and are so grateful to those who have come forward so far – but we could always do with more. If you have someone in your network who you think may be interested in joining our family of sponsors, please let us know. It’s not one-way traffic either, as we have a package for sponsors to thank them for their financial contribution.

And with this being Orchids & More, we hope the ‘& More’ will open some new avenues for the event.

How Can You Help?

Donations from individuals to support the National Orchid Expo may be made to the Orchid Council of NZ, a registered charity, and so are tax deductible for amounts above $5. The names of all financial supporters will appear in the Registrants’ Handbook (unless requested). If you’d like to donate, please email us for further information.

Thanks to those who responded to our call for volunteers in the last newsletter. If you intend to be at the speaker events, you might consider getting your spouse/partner/friend, who might otherwise be at a loose end, to consider volunteering for half-a-day. We’re thinking of a way to thank our volunteers because, as I said earlier we’re doing this together (remind me that next time someone sidles up to me with ‘a good idea’ to run in the opposite direction).

This prize-winning table-top display at the 2019 Expo was by Helen McDonald, at the time a member of the Tauranga Orchid Society. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Club Displays

We’re still waiting to hear from a number of clubs about displays – thank you to the ones who have got in behind this event and signalled their intentions. The artistic display of massed flowering plants will be one of the main reasons that people come to Orchids & More, and hopefully be impressed/enchanted enough to want to join an orchid society.

But don’t think you have to ‘go big or go home’. If your club isn’t enthusiastic about mounting a display, remember that individuals who are members of an OCNZ-affiliated society may mount their own display (or do it with a couple of friends). We have 3 display sizes to choose from:

  • Large display – 3m x 3m, or 9m2 of floor space if your configuration is not square.
  • Small display – Less than 9m2.
  • Tabletop – 1m in diameter. We will have 10 tables available, but these must be booked ahead of time (no charge). Once all are taken, clubs or individuals must then supply their own with these private tables needing to be the same diameter.

Please let us know if you would like to book a space or have any questions. We do appreciate that just now in some areas people have bigger things to think about than this, but we’re still to hear from some clubs in areas not so badly affected by Cyclone Gabrielle.

Until next time, happy growing!

Plant tastes changing?

According to this recent piece in Stuff, yes indeedy.

New Zealanders’ taste in house plants is broadening, branching out from an initial love affair with monsteras and hoyas to tillandsia and carnivorous plants.

Trade Me spokesperson Millie Silvester said search trends had shifted to different types of plants in recent months.

“In January we saw more than 3000 searches for tillandsia onsite, a 151% increase when compared with the month prior,” she said.

A sundew carnivorous plant.

“Carnivorous plants are having a moment on-site too, seeing over 4000 searches in January, up 121% month-on-month,” she said.

If you are, or know of, a seller of tillandsias or carnivorous plants who’d like to join us at Orchids & More, please get in touch. We’re at Mystery Creek Events Centre and open to the public from September 29-October 1.

Orchids & More Newsletter 1

LIke most people, the team at Orchids & More is back in the traces too. Truthfully, some of us used the wet ‘summer’ weather as an excuse to keep on fine-tuning the plans!

We’ve got vendors signing on and with many taking multiple stands, we’re feeling confident we can make the Mystery Creek Events Centre a buzzing and gorgeous place to be come September 29 – with only 9 months to go this now feels like it will be a ‘special delivery’. If you, or someone you know, sell unusual plants, whether orchids or something else, we can send a no-obligation vendor information sheet. Just let us know.

The other good news is that we have our first sponsors on board. Over the coming weeks you’ll be finding out who those are as we officially welcome them and thank them for their contribution. Without sponsor support we’d be getting nowhere fast, so are truly grateful that others share our vision for this event.

The 10th National Orchid Expo is the lynchpin of the event with massed displays of flowering plants from around the country and vendors of orchids and growing gear. Those who register for the Expo will also have access to a speaker programme that, as of today, is almost complete. Just one more name to add and then all can be revealed.

A portion of the Waitakere Orchid Club display from the 2016 Expo. Photo: Sandra Simpson

As we turn our thoughts to registrants, we’re also planning some fun things to pop into their goodie bags. If you’re a vendor, you might like to think about how a gift in the bag could be a marketing opportunity, or, heck, even the branding of the bags themselves. Let us know if you have a good idea, either on your own behalf or have a contact we might approach.

Orchid clubs and societies, have you advised us of your display size yet? If not, we’d appreciate hearing from you as soon as possible. We’re hoping to have everything in place to open registrations in late February-early March.

Many thanks to all the clubs and societies, individuals and businesses who have sponsored the OCNZ trophies awarded at the Expo. One generous club – Hibiscus Coast – missed out on a trophy but donated the cash anyway. OCNZ and our team thank you all.

We’ll be looking for volunteers to help us run Orchids & More so please consider whether you might be able to lend a hand. There are all sorts of things to help with on show days, including looking after the plant creche, working on the door, floorwalking etc. And please, please also consider whether you could lend a hand being a runner on judging day, Thursday, September 28. Many hands, and all that. As an organising team of individuals, we don’t have a club behind us so every offer will be gratefully received.

Until next time, grow well!

Summer care of orchids

As I write this we are being deluged, again, by rain and wind. The calendar may say ‘summer’ but the weather is doing an extended spring. The orchids however, haven’t minded – rainwater is always preferred to town supply – so they’ve been hanging on the otherwise-unused washing line and those in trays have been rotated out of the shadehouse to enjoy the not-too-heavy rain and ‘buoyant air’.

Hallelujah, it’s raining orchids! Part of the 2018 orchid display in Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Normally, summer care of orchids revolves around meeting their watering needs and keeping an eye on temperatures and humidity. This year may be different!

If you’re not sure about a plant’s needs, you might find the Orchid Council of NZ website helpful as it includes some seasonal culture notes for several types of orchid. See the seasonal advice here.

Die-hard enthusiasts will already be thinking about next year’s National Orchid Expo at Mystery Creek, part of the Orchids & More event, and how this unusual weather may affect – for good or ill – next spring’s flowering.