Motes Notes - Florida Orchid Growing
Progress of the Season
This March has been perfect orchid growing weather. The drought which is punishing our lawns is suiting our orchids "just fine". The lack of rain has rendered the whole world a greenhouse where we are in control of the watering. This pattern seems likely to continue into April as the broad fronts continue to stall out over South Florida. Be sure that pots, medium and roots are saturated. Water heavily, with at least two applications to the point of run application. Vanda roots will dry exceptionally quickly in the low humidity and drying winds of April. Be sure that they are overall dark green when you are finished watering. Now is a time when Vanda roots that have dried excessively behaving like a cork in a wine bottle; repelling not absorbing water. A third or even a fourth application spaced a few minutes apart may be necessary. (We recorded a video available on Youtube that demonstrates proper vanda watering technique. Click here
to check it out. It's free!)
The dry air also means that heat is radiating out of the atmosphere rapidly at night. The wide swings of day to night temperatures that result stimulate vigorous root growth. If this is not evident or if the root tips are not elongating rapidly they are probably not getting enough water: water more thoroughly. As the temperatures rise higher later in the month, vandas frequently benefit from a second light watering in mid-afternoon.
Another cause of cessation of root growth is Thrips which are an ever-present threat in periods of extended drought. Use the methods recommended in Florida Orchid Growing to control them. Mites too relish drought. The exceptionally moderate temperatures we are experiencing allow us to control both mites and Thrips with the user-friendly spraying of oil followed by soap. Three tablespoons of cooking oil in a gal of water can be sprayed on a day when temperatures are expected below 86F(30C). Water thoroughly the day before. Keep the solution frequently agitated. Follow this spraying in 7-10 days with an application of liquid dishwashing soap at 4 Tbs. per gal. Again, be sure to water the day before spraying soap as it is dehydrating.
Remember, now is the ideal time to apply time release fertilizer. Nutricote, marketed as "Dynamite" is best. Lowe's sells a low phosphorus formulation for "Citrus and Avocados". Recommended formulations are also available from the merchants listed under "Sources" in Fla. Orchid Growing.
The great weather is a stimulus to spend time with our orchids and enjoy the abundance of spring bloom. Don't miss the moment!
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
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
Signs of spring abound with an abundance of emerging flower spikes and buds. The flush of spring growth will follow soon so plan your repotting program which should begin in earnest this month. The best time to repot is right before the new roots start growing so the plants will reestablish quickly. Watch for signs of mites, particularly on thin leaved orchids like the catasetinae and grammatophyllums, and treat any problems promptly...continue reading
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 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 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
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
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 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 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
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 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
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
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