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 has been cooler and much drier than usual. The lower temperatures have somewhat lessened the impact of the lack of rain but now as the thermometer rises so will the drought stress on our plants... 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. Fortunately, over night radiant cooling rapidly dissipates the previous day's... read entire article
Culture Article by Sue Bottom:
Fusarium in Phalaenopsis.
I wish I were at the point in my orchid growing career where I've made all the mistakes and learned the hard lessons. Alas, apparently there are still more mistakes ahead of me.
Dr. Courtney Hackney Tips, Redux:
Got Milk? – For many years there has been a rumor that milk was an effective agent for killing viruses on tools used to repot orchids. It turns out that firms in Europe have been using this method exclusively in their everyday work with plants. Now, a 2004 scientific paper published in the journal Plant Disease confirms that a 20% (wt/vol) solution of non-fat dry milk... read more
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 7 Monthly Meeting - Catasetums and Their Kin, 7:00 to 9:00 pm
We always enjoy when Fred comes to St. Augustine. This month he'll talk about Catasetums, Cycnoches and Mormodes. These orchid oddities have a brief deciduous
period in winter, when the plants need a definite dry rest period bordering on neglect, and then burst into growth in the spring. You can preorder plants from Fred's website and he offers a 10% discount, just mention that the plants are to be delivered to the St. Aug Orchid Society. The deadline for ordering is May 30. Don't forget to bring plants to the show table! Orchids will be available on the sales and raffle table. Friends and guests are always welcome.
Not a Member? Sign Up to Receive Our Newsletter
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June 4 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!