General Growing Tips.
Short days and cold nights necessitate adjustments for both plants and growers. Reduce water and fertilizer gradually until you reach your winter target, about half that of the summer levels. Don't fertilize winter dormant orchids (Catsetinae, Callista and Dendrobium section Dendrobiums, Calanthes, etc.) after Thanksgiving. Prepare your plants for their winter home. Inspect them, remove dead leaves and sheaths with a sterile tool, and spray for pests if necessary. Protect them when temperatures are projected to drop below their winter minimum acceptable temperature.
Retie your cattleyas to support the new growth and orient the new growth toward the sun. Bloom sheaths may be showing signs of yellowing. Autumn's more pronounced temperature fluctuation can lead to water condensation inside the sheath, hastening the normal process of senescence, so yellowing sheaths should be carefully removed to preserve the bud primordia within to prevent water condensation from rotting it. The sheaths can be safely removed by slitting open and peeling down toward the pseudobulb. New growths of Cattleya skinneri may have dried sheaths, do not remove them.
For the commonly available phalaenopsis type dendrobiums, protect them when temperatures are projected to drop down to 55 or 60 F. The winter dormant dendrobiums (nobiles, seminobiles and callista section) should be separated from your other plants so you can easily reduce the water and fertilizer they receive through Thanksgiving. Shoot for minimum temperatures of 40 F.
This is the blooming season for the Brazilian Oncidium section crispum with their chestnut and brown and butter yellow markings. Give plants high light to produce strong upright Inflorescences. The pseudobulbs should be plump, so do not let the plants dry out while they are in bloom. Later, plants will enter a dormant period. Stake your inflorescence as the spike grows for best presentation. Protect them when temperatures are projected to drop down to 40 or 50 F.
Paphs can be potted almost year round. Examine those that flower in the summer and pot as necessary. While paphs never like to dry out entirely, this month marks the beginning of the time when growth, and hence, water and fertilizer needs slow down dramatically. Observe your plants and do not water if they are not at least partially drying out.
Phals are starting to spike now. Stake the inflorescence loosely once it gets around 10 inches long about 4 inches below the growing tip and move your tie upward as the spike elongates. Remember the flower will grow toward the light. If you move the plant, the flower spike will twist seeking out the sun so you won’t get graceful pendulous blooms. Some people put a spot of nail polish on the pot so they know which direction the pot should face. Consider applying a preventative copper spray to help prevent fungal and rot problems.
Vandas should be in their winter homes in the brightest location possible and you can reduce watering and feeding. The only cold hardy member is Neofinetia falcata. Shoot for minimum temperatures of 50 to 60 F. If you have Rhynchostylis gigantea, look for Inflorescences that are emerging now for January flowering.
Winter resting plants include the Catasetinae (catasetum, clowesia, cycnoches and mormodes). These should be separated from your other plants so you can easily reduce the water and fertilizer they receive through Thanksgiving.
More Monthly Advice
Dr. Martin Motes Notes:
Progress of the Season.
Although less rain than usual fell in most gauges in South Florida this October, from the perspective of our orchids, it was a wet month. With weak cold front after weak cold front stalling over us, this October was more like September... read more
Orchids in November. 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
Culture Article by Sue Bottom:
Stanhopeas are generally grown in baskets with wide openings to allow the ephemeral flowers to emerge from the bottom or side of the basket. Squat vanda baskets, deeper plastic pots and lined wire baskets are used with a variety of mixes including sphagnum, bark or custom blends. Here are some thoughts on how to basket your stanhopeas...
Monthly SAOS Meeting
We normally meet on the first Tuesday of each month at Watson Realty, located at 3505 US 1 South in St. Augustine. The meeting begins with a plant sale at 7 pm followed by a presentation by an orchid expert at 7:15. The meeting closes with a plant raffle and auction where members can expand their collections. It's fun and informative for beginner and experienced growers. Here's a membership form if you want to join. Visitors and guests are always welcome!
Here's a video of one of our meetings!
December 1 Monthly Meeting - Christmas Party and Auction 6:30 to 8:30 pm
We know how busy December gets with family and friends and Christmas get togethers. We hope you’ll be able to spread holiday cheer at our St. Aug Orchid Society Christmas party this year. Our party planners will wow you with their plans for the best Xmas celebration ever. e:
Our annual Christmas orchid auction is scheduled for our normal first Tuesday meeting night, December 1.
We’ll meet at the Moultrie Trails Clubhouse located at 121 Crooked Tree Trail, St. Aug 32086 just north of Wildwood Drive where we’ve held the Christmas auction the last several years.
We’ll start our social hour at 6:30 pm instead of the normal 7 pm start time. This will give us a chance to exchange holiday cheer before we hit the vittles.
Bring your beverage of choice. The club will provide the low octane sodas, water, iced tea and coffee, but if you enjoy a cuppa with your meal, feel free!
One thing that hasn’t changed is all the good food. This year we'll be featuring home cooked pulled pork as our main dish, yum yum!
Members are encouraged to bring a dish to round out the meal. Salads, potato and pasta side dishes, vegetable side dishes and desserts have been big favorites in years gone by.
We’ll finish up the evening with an orchid auction where you can bid on a nice variety of different types of orchids.
Mostly we’re looking to kick back and have fun, spreading holiday cheer with our orchid buddies. Hope to see you there!
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February 6 Plant Clinic at Ace Hardware, 9 am to 1 pm
The first Saturday of the month from February through October (and sometimes November), Master Gardeners and St. Augustine Orchid Society members will be available to talk with you, answer questions and help you repot orchids. We will be at the Ace Hardware at 3050 US 1 South in St. Augustine from 9 am until 1 pm.
Here's a video of a repotting clinic!
St. Augustine Orchid Society Happenings
Gail Marshall puts together the SAOS Happenings each month so you can easily find all the orchid events around town.
Donate to the SAOS
Your information source for growing orchids in North Florida. The SAOS is a Section 501(c)(3) not for profit organization for the development, improvement, preservation, cultivation and hybridization of orchids. All donations are tax deductible.
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