Waldemar Scheliga , orchidist from former times and an expert grower, has been being part of the orchidophile family of the state of Rio de Janeiro since Sociedade Brasileira de Orquidófilos.
He participated to the foundation of our association OrquidaRio, and has always been an active collaborator of the magazine Orquidário since of the beginning, by translating from Germany to Portuguese works by Rudolf Jenny, Karlheinz Senghas, Irene Bock, and many others by writing his own articles about different genera, by being part of the editorial committee and even, by giving tips of cultivation telling his secrets of fertilization. See his Calista densiflora (or Dendrobium densiflorum) wonderfully bloomed as showed i the picture after almost 20 years of expectation.
What a patience.
Foto/Photo: Sergio Araujo

Small professional profile:

-For 47 years, I used to be the sales manager of Bayer of Brazil. I retired in l982 and since then I have been applied myself to cultivate orchids.

-How did you start to cultivate orchids? Which was the magic moment of attraction?

-I started in l944. I had just finished to build my house in Teresópolis (mountainous region of the state of Rio de Janeiro). There I found an old pear tree replete of a small yellow orchid that I have never got the correct classification.
By this time, my wife planted a rosewood tree that developed very well and, one day, on the top, a wonderful Oncidium crispum appeared spontaneously.
I wanted to take it off in order to cultivate at home and I should find a stairs from the telephone company. However, I did not know orchids and this plant finished to die because it did not receive the appropriate care when it has been removed and re-planted.
Since then, I started to be interested in orchids.
  Photo/Foto: Coleção Carlos Eduardo

- How many plants do you have?

  -Nowadays I have, more or less, 2.500 plants, 1.000 here in Rio and 1.500 in Petrópolis (mountainous region of the state of Rio de Janeiro).
I am 87 years old and my age does not allow to take care of repot and do many necessary works, so I am trying to reduce the quantity of orchids.
I got rid of a great part but there are still many.
-Which orchids do you have more?
Arpophyllum spicatum  
-Practically, I cultivate everything, many species, many hybrids.
I have an eclectic collection.
Callista densiflora (Wall) Brieg.  
- Between yours, what is the favorite plant?  
-The one I like more is Cattleya maxima.
I love very much another one that developed very well in Petrópolis:
a Phaius tankervilleae.
Once I had 26 plants.
That is one of those I got rid because the containers are very big and I can not repot them.

Phaius tankervilleae
-How long do you spend taking care of orchids, daily?

-When I go to Petrópolis, I spend practically all day long. Here, in Rio de Janeiro, one afternoon for week.

- Was there any inspiration or did someone inspire you to cultivate orchids?

-I had an uncle, Abílio, who was associated to an orchid society, when he attended the meeting, he brought his wonderful plants to show. One day, he took me in order to help him with two plants. I brought one, he, the other. We took the tram, every body looking. This my Portuguese uncle was very talkative and started to talk to everybody, doing a true assembly about orchids. This was my first contact with the orchids, during the decade of 20. After that, I have never thought about it until I built my house in Teresópolis and since them I became interested in cultivating them.

-How long do you cultivate orchids?

For 57 years.

Is there a short or amusing story connected to orchids that you want to tell us?

Once, Ivana asked me to repot their plants with Alex Sauer. It has been a week of acquaintanceship and help. This is the important, the help one gives to the other.

- Which are the climatic conditions found in your environment?

I try to keep the plants according to the required conditions.
At Petrópolis, I have those who need temperate conditions and here, in Rio de Janeiro, those who need warmer or hotter conditions. Here, I have, mainly, Ascodenda, Vandas, Aerides, Phalaenopsis and some hybrids. One that bloom here very well Lc Molly Tyler.
At Petrópois, another one that had developed very well is Phragmipedium longifolium, which blooms all year round. It is a enormous clump that has at this moment, 7 inflorescences.

- One said that orchidophilia is the soft manifestation of madness, have you done any "orchidophilic" insanity?

Yes. I have R$ 700,00 for a plant. This was the bigger madness I have done. It was a Cattleya schilleriana var. coerulea. It was worth.
- Do you have a cultivation secret that you can share with us?

It should be the fertilize system I use that gave me the best result. Since I use it, my cultivation improved much more. Basically, it mix the same quantity of Ricinus communis' bran, bone flour and wood ash. I mixed everything and then I moist with water. I concluded that there is no need of too much water, just enough to get it granulated. In a few days, the mixture drought out but I do not let it drought too much in order to keep it humid. When it is humid, the water allows it to go inside the substrate.
I use in September, December and March (Springtime, summer and fall in South American)and I do not use it in winter.

- Thank you very much, Waldemar Scheliga.
Phragmipedium x schroederae. Foto/Photo: F. Miranda

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