Using Gutter Guard to Mount Orchids

By Anne-Marie Blancquaert (Feb. 2020)

My search for the right mounting skeleton, one that would not deteriorate quickly, that would be easy to use, economical, versatile; started when I acquired a Vandachostylis at the Cincinnati Fall Orchid show last year. (Fig. 1)

At the time I had no idea what this black plastic mesh was. Finally, in January I tracked it down via one of our KOS members. It was gutter cover. Available at hardware stores in a set width of 6 inches on a 20-foot-long foot long roll. There are ‘YouTube’ videos out there how to use it, if one wants to do something different than just make round holders as in the picture above. They, however, use hot glue to make pockets using also strips of HVAC reusable filters. Rather involved, with a drying/glue-setting period.

Why not sew them together? When purchasing a roll at the local hardware store I also purchased a roll of 24-gauge stainless steel wire. This wire is bendable and can be threaded through a tapestry needle and one can ‘sew’ the plastic mesh in tubes of different diameters and even ‘sew’ a bottom to the tubes to hold medium.

A heavier stainless-steel wire (18-gauge) is used for hanging loops. (Fig. 2)

One could use heavier fishing wire to ‘sew’ the tubes, but this is sometimes rather difficult to see and the wire is slippery and has a tendency to escape from the needle.

In the videos, people lamented the fact that although the mesh is 20 feet long it is only six inches wide, so making a ‘false log’ or ‘tree trunk’ is not of much use because of the very narrow diameter. Do not despair! Looking in certain garden catalogues (A.M Leonard as an example: one can find different tree guards that are made from a similar material. These are available in preset diameters (four and six inches), different lengths (24, 36 and 48 inches), but also in sheets of 47” by 48” which can be rolled to form tubes of 15-inch diameter but overwrap to form smaller diameter tubes or cut to diameter size needed.I have mounted a Dendrobium Nagasaki on one of the ‘pocket’ tubes and it is taking off. Inside the tube I put coarse medium and on the outside some wet sphagnum moss. Tied the roots with fishing wire to the tube and voilà!  If the coarse medium deteriorates, I just pour it out via the open top and fill with new medium. (Fig. 3)

Fig. 1 Vandachostylis Charm “Blue Star” purchased from Natt’s Orchids, mounted on 
gutter cover made tube.

Fig. 2 Examples of orchid mounts using Gutter Guard. Leftover pieces (foreground left) to use with Tolumnias. Open and closed mounts on the right.

Fig.3 Dendrobium Nagasaki mounted on a closed gutter cover mount. Visible on the left side is the 24-gauge wire used to ‘sew’ the tube, see also the bottom wire. Fishing wire to attach the orchid on a thin layer of sphagnum moss on the outside of the mesh tube.