Growing Orchids: April in St. Augustine
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Based on AOS monthly checklists by Robert Scully and Ned Nash & James Rose, adapted to St. Augustine by local growers
General Orchid Growing Tips
This is one of the most exciting months of the year, filled with an abundance of flower spikes emerging. It's the beginning of the long growing season, enabling us to provide our plants with the foundation for maximum flower production in the next flowering season. Increase water and fertilizer as the days lengthen and warm to yield floral dividends in the months beyond. Consider adding an additional 30% shade cloth to protect plants from the intense summer sun and heat. When the humidity is low, consider switching to Courtney's nighttime watering regimen.
photo by Greg Allikas
C. aclandiae and C. forbesii produce flowers that last for weeks. C. mossiae and its hybrids are well known for their spectacular, long lasting heads of 6 in blossoms that provide an abundance of flowers. Begin the annual repotting cycle by shifting and dividing those cattleyas that flowered earlier this year and are beginning to produce new growth. Typically you should repot only when the new growth is emerging to take advantage of the plant's tendency to make new roots when it is forming new pseudobulbs.
Enc. cordigera should be blooming profusely now. The spicy fragrance will last for several weeks. Consider shifting it to a wooden basket when flowering is complete.
If you have more than one or two brown leaves, you may have a cultural problem. If the plant is loose in its pot, the mix has degraded and the plant should be repotted. If the plant is firm in its pot, it is asking for more fertilizer.
Moth orchids are in their prime, boasting arching and branching sprays of beautiful flowers. Most growers don't spray chemicals on blooming phals so check for signs of pests like scale or mites that you can spot treat with alcohol.
Vandas are entering into their growth period and you should see an abundance of new rootlets. Locate them where they get bright bright light (though not direct light) and plenty of fresh air. Increase water and fertilizer to fuel their growth, they'll reward you later in the season with abundant blooms. Water them one to three times a day with an automated spray system or water wand and apply fertilizer after roots dry off a bit.