Monthly Orchid Growing Advice

Monthly Orchid Growing Advice

Motes Notes - Florida Orchid Growing


Progress of the Season  

    June got off to a bad start. Whilst the volume of rain was a blessing in relieving our drought, the persistence of wet weather more like September, gave an unfortunate leg up to all of the diseases which can afflict orchids growing outside in South Florida. Most dreaded of these, black rot had the perfect opportunity to attack the soft new growths of our sympodial orchids and the crowns of our vandas. Before the advent of modern fungicides, this disease was either fatal or resulted in massive loss of plant tissue as the infection was cut away. Alliette is the most effective chemical to control black rot for home orchid growers (see Florida Orchid Growing for other treatments). Infected plants should be isolated and kept dry but the entire collection should be sprayed. Alliette is a systemic chemical which will immunize our plants against future infection.
    The heavy rains and the ultra high humidity have washed away both Thrips and mites from our plants. They both can make sudden dramatic returns in a dry patch in July or August. Scout for them should the rain hold off for more than three days. A spraying for mites followed by a second 7-10 days later is highly recommended in mid to late summer.
    An unseen benefit of the deluge of early June is that excess fertilizer salts have been leached from our pots, baskets and media. This is good, but the proper mounts of fertilizer need to be replaced. When next your plants need water, apply low phosphorus liquid fertilizer (Michigan State formula or equivalent) instead. Also this month, don't miss the opportunity which a dry patch of weather presents to dry your plants "hard." Orchids have evolved to withstand drought to defeat their enemy fungus, which needs constant moisture.
    I am constantly amazed at how following a wet week, snails have reappeared. The smaller of these may well be hatchlings, but the larger ones have traveled considerable distances to find the tender new growths and emerging flowers of our orchids. Light but frequent application of snail bait every couple of weeks across the summer is de rigueur.
    Afternoon showers bring rain cooled air to be enjoyed in the evening but even more so in early morning. As the days shorten, mornings become even more delicious.
    This June, we uploaded a new video to Youtube, Landscaping with Orchids. If you haven't seen it you can check it out on YouTube here.
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

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
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

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
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

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
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

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
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

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
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

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
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

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
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

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
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

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
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

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
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

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
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

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 to the monthly newsletter.
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