General Growing Tips.
Summer is right around the corner. Now is the time to maximize growth and develop the plant strength and food reserves needed for good flower production. Larger plants typically produce bigger and better flowers than smaller ones so resist the urge to divide your plants just for the sake of having more plants. Recycle your clay or plastic pots but be sure to sterilize them first along with any wire products. Do not reuse potting mix or drainage material.
Get a head start on dividing cattleyas by severing the rhizome in whole or in part (at a point where you will have 3 to 5 pseudobulbs per division) with a sterile tool while the plant is still in the original pot. The new growths will emerge weeks later at which point you can finish repotting using a rhizome clip to secure the divisions. Continue feeding cattleyas with a dilute fertilizer solution with each watering and flush with fresh water monthly.
Finish repotting these elegant orchids if they are bursting out of the pot. If the medium is in good condition (just a year old), you may be able to move the plant from one container to another with the addition of a small amount of medium without disturbing the roots. Keep the pots moist and syringe the foliage frequently, particularly if you have moved the plant into brighter light.
This is the ideal month to complete repotting of your lady's slippers into a fresh terrestrial mix. Remove dead roots and keep as many growths together as practical. The single flowered types should be in shade though the multiflorals like more light. Keep root zone moisture levels high (though Brachypetalum types generally like drier conditions)
Repotting plants that have finished flowering is a priority. When you repot, remove the old inflorescence and eliminate all rotten or completely dehydrated roots and cut the roots back to about 2/3 the depth of the new pot. Remove also the dried bottom section of the old crown until you reach fresh tissue. Resume fertilizing when new roots become visible. Consider a spraying program with a recommended fungicide.
Some plants may need more room for root development. If your plant is in a basket, simply drop it into a larger size basket. If your plant has become top heavy and unsightly, cut away the top part of the plant as long as this section has three roots to sustain it and rebasket it being careful to secure it so roots will not be damaged in the wind. Keep the bottom section of the plant in the old basket as it will usually sprout keikis at the base and be well established by the end of the summer.
More Monthly Advice
Dr. Martin Motes Notes:
Progress of the Season.
This April which began among the driest of the dry has ended in spectacular abundance of rain. Just as the weather was settling into a pattern of afternoon thunder storms which bespoke an early onset of the rainy season, massive cold fronts collided with this moisture laden tropical air... read more
Orchids in May. 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... read entire article
Culture Article by Sue Bottom:
Secrets of a Great Orchid Grower
Have you ever looked at someone’s plants and wondered if they have been feeding their ‘chids royal jelly? James Arnold of the Jacksonville Orchid Society has spectacularly well grown plants. He had some seedling paphiopedilums for sale at one of the meetings and they looked terrifically healthy and vigorous. When you lifted the pot you could feel the fat and happy thick roots through the thin plastic pot. The plants he displays on the show table and at orchid society exhibits are impeccably grown and flowered. I had to learn his secrets...
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!
June 2 Monthly Meeting - Stanhopeas and Other Thin Leafed Orchids, 7 to 9 pm
Jill Godfrey will be speaking on Stanhopeas, and maybe if she has enough time she'll talk about Sobralias and Calanthes. Jill is a Miami native who started growing orchids at the age of 12 and joined the North Miami Amateur Orchid Club. She worked for the firm of Jones and Scully when they were located on the Miami River in the late ‘70’s. Jill is an AOS judge and avid orchid hobbyist, who loves her cattleyas and also grows dendrobiums and a wide variety of species. If you have ever had an interest in the orchids that bloom from the bottom of the pot (Stanhopeas) or the other plants that have thin-leaves, this will be a great lecture. Jill is very knowledgeable and even if you are not familiar with these orchids, you will be by the end of the evening!
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June 6 Plant Clinic at Ace Hardware - 9 am to 1 pm
The first Saturday of the month from February through 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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