Growing Orchids: January in St. Augustine
Based on AOS monthly checklists by Robert Scully and Ned Nash & James Rose, adapted to St. Augustine by local growers
General Orchid Growing Tips
Plants will continue to manufacture food during the winter, albeit at a reduced rate. Everything will occur at a slower pace until spring arrives so the need for water and fertilizer is reduced. Indoor growers: pull you orchid away from the window if its leaves are touching the exterior glass.
Outdoor growers: keep an eye on the minimum projected temperatures, such as the hourly forecasts by zip code from Wunderground.
Tie up Cattleya pseudobulbs. Watch for signs of red spider mites on the undersides of leaves or scale in the sheathing on pseudobulbs. Remove the sheathing (cataphylls) carefully so as not to nick the soft tissue of the newest bulbs, which could result in rot or the introduction of disease.
Keep the humidity high around cymbidiums to prevent shriveling of the pseudobulbs and to prolong flowering. Later varieties are beginning to push up their inflorescences. Watering frequency and volume is important to support their development. Cool temperatures are beneficial.
Continue to water sparingly, or not at all, those dendrobium species that require a dormant period before flowering this spring (Den. lindleyi (syn. Den. aggregatum), Den. chrysotoxum, Den. farmeri, Den. densiflorum and Den. nobile or its hybrids). As the buds emerge, gradually increase the watering frequency and amount. Do not expose evergreen-type hybrids to temperatures below 60 F or plants in flower may drop leaves and buds.
Do not allow the roots of paphiopedilums to dry out. On a windowsill, use a pebble tray, with water in the pebbles, to increase humidity. Keep water out of sensitive pouches. Accumulated moisture in the pouch shortens flower life. Watch for insects, particularly red spider mites, on the foliage.
The phalaenopsis flowering cycle is about to start. Constant air circulation is essential to avoid Botrytis-spotted blooms. Water carefully to keep flowers dry and to minimize risks of soft rot in the fleshy leaves. Continue to use a dilute water soluble fertilizer. Monitor for scale and mealy bugs on the inflorescences and undersides of leaves.
Many of the popular Thai hybrids and African angraecoids begin their winter flowering now. Watch for signs of inflorescences; help them away from the main stem of the plant to ensure proper display. Water the roots every other day and fertilize once or twice a week if light levels are sufficient.