Florida Orchid Growing Month by Month
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Orchid Culture: Motes Notes
By Dr. Martin Motes, from his monthly newsletter and book Florida Orchid Growing
Monthly advice for orchid growers in South Florida. There's lots of information pertinent to North Florida growers too. Subscribe to the monthly newsletter so it will be delivered to you via email each month.

Progress of the Season

    Hurricane Irma carved a wide swath through Florida and all of orchids and landscapes. Sun burn is always the most immediate threat when trees or shade houses are down or damaged. Plants suddenly exposed to direct sunlight will burn in a few hours. Brown spots on leaves caused by sun burn are unsightly but not in themselves likely to present further danger to the plant. As long as these stay dry, it is best to leave them rather than cut them. This will allow the plant to recover strength with the remaining leaf surface.
    Be mindful with the sun slipping lower on the horizon in early autumn that the angle of incidence of light striking our plants is changing and post storm, areas which were formerly well shaded may be exposed to strong sunlight. If one is replacing damaged shade cloth, remember it is wise to save the old shade cloth for future post storm needs. It can be folded or rolled and stored in an inconspicuous spot outside.
    Irma was so large and persistent that September was wetter than usual but the huge size of the storm modified the typical September weather pattern producing drier than normal weather in the week following her passage. There were more inches of rain but fewer hours. This was felicitous as any plants left outside in the storm could potentially have sustained minor mechanical injury. These nicks and scrapes are potential entry points for opportunistic diseases such as Anthracnose.
    If one has followed the disease control methods in Florida Orchid Growing across the summer, there should be only minor problems. An additional spraying with thiophanate methyl (Cleary's 3336 or Thiomyl) is highly recommended. Bacterial disease (Erwinia or Phytophora) is also frequent post storm. These soft rots are not controlled by fungicides. Cupric hydroxide(Kocide) in combination with mancozeb (Manzate or Dithane M45) is very effective. The premixed combination is available under the brand name Junction. This combination can be made into a slurry to paint any suspicious spots.
    Post storm one should always err on the dry side. How wet an October is in store is anybody's guess. Better to lose a little late season growth than potentially the loss of entire plants to over watering.
    Because we have suffered does not mean we are immunized against further suffering. Another storm is still possible this year but fortunately we have learned much from dealing with Irma and will be better prepared.

January in Your Orchid Collection
 
January in Your Orchid Collection

January is somewhat like December but in reverse, with each succeeding day bringing longer hours of sunlight until days are long enough that afternoons return at the end of the month with extra sunshine to warm us after the extra sharp cold snaps. January, like December, is cold and dry, in fact even colder and drier. Dry is good, cold can be very bad. We need to accentuate the positive by especially... read entire article

February in Your Orchid Collection
 
February in Your Orchid Collection

Despite the bloom on the avocados and the burgeoning new leaves on the live oaks, February is not spring in South Florida. Danger of freeze continues past mid month and frost can occur still into March. Even if the weather is balmy, it's too early to let down our guard or take down any protection we have mounted against the cold. The trend however is toward the positive as each lengthening day brings extra hours of warming sunshine... read entire article

March in Your Orchid Collection
 
March in Your Orchid Collection

Whilst March never comes in like a lion in South Florida, occasionally it slinks in like a bob cat. Frost is not unheard of in the first few days of the month. The more cold sensitive genera, hard cane dendrobiums, phalaenopsis and vandas may well need some protection even into the middle of the month. Overall, however, March brings us some of the most ideal orchid growing conditions... read entire article

April in Your Orchid Collection
 
April in Your Orchid Collection

Far from the cruelest, April is the kindest month to South Florida orchid growers. The weather in April is definitely settled into warm, even deliciously hot, with passing cold fronts only adding the delight of a pleasant change in temperature. The clean, bright days brimming with abundant sunlight and the low relative humidity create the high drying potential that orchids love. ... read entire article

May in Your Orchid Collection
 
May in Your Orchid Collection

May is a month of transition in South Florida. Early in the month we can expect the driest weather of the year. Because of the clarity of the air and lack of cloud cover, temperatures rise rapidly in the late morning and can reach the upper eighties or nineties by mid afternoon before cooling substantially in late afternoon. Fortunately, over night radiant cooling rapidly dissipates the previous day's... read entire article

June in Your Orchid Collection
 
June in Your Orchid Collection

June is the most dramatically tropical month in South Florida. As the southeast Trade Winds blow cool moist air off the Gulf Stream daily, as surely the heating effect of the center of the peninsula percolates up massive thunder heads. The increased cloud cover drawing a veil across the afternoon sun provides much cooling relief for our plants... read entire article

July in Your Orchid Collection
 
July in Your Orchid Collection

Although it mostly passes unnoticed to millions locked in their air-conditioned bubbles, July in South Florida is quite different from June. While the pattern of afternoon showers built from the moisture of the morning's sea breeze persists in July, the thunder-storms are sharper and shorter. The clouds linger less and the foliage dries more quickly. Less quantity of rain falls in July than in June... read entire article

August in Your Orchid Collection
 
August in Your Orchid Collection

July and August are the two most similar months in South Florida. Most of the advice on watering, disease and pest control in last month's calendar still apply but subtle changes are taking place. Although it may not seem so, as temperatures climb into the low nineties most afternoons, summer is in retreat: each day a little shorter, each night a little longer. With shorter days the importance of watering as early... read entire article

September in Your Orchid Collection
 
September in Your Orchid Collection

September looms as the only truly dismal month in South Florida. Even without the prospect of the unspeakable 'H' word, September disheartens since it is easily the dampest, dullest month in the year. Although more inches of rain fall in June, more hours of rain occur in the often slow, seemingly endless drizzles of September. Frequently a day or two can pass without so much as a solid hour of truly bright... read entire article

October in Your Orchid Collection
 
October in Your Orchid Collection

October is a month of change in South Florida. If the Romans had lived here where we do, they would have named this month for their two faced god Janus. Usually around the middle of the month, and certainly by the end of the month, the first strong cold front pushes into South Florida bringing to a close the monolithic heat and damp of summer and ushering in weather as most of the continent knows it... read entire article

November in Your Orchid Collection
 
November in Your Orchid Collection

In November we can no longer afford to be dominated by the illusion, so easy here at the northern edge of the tropics, that summer will never end. Although Indian Summer persists for the whole winter in South Florida, November is the month to prepare our plants for those short sharp blasts of cold which are inevitably coming as each successive cold front pushes the overall temperature a little lower... read entire article

December in Your Orchid Collection
 
December in Your Orchid Collection

December marks the beginning of the serious dry season in South Florida. While this additional dryness provides relief from the autumnal rains that can bring so many fungal problems, December is also the month of shortest day lengths. This contracted period of light, on the contrary, reduces severely the drying potential for our plants. Nature thus both gives and takes away from us in December. We must... read entire article

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