Orchid Culture - Motes Notes
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Monthly advice for orchid growers in South Florida. There's lots of information pertinent to North Florida growers too. Subscribe to the monthly newsletter so it will be delivered to you via email each month.
by Dr. Martin Motes, from his monthly newsletter and book Florida Orchid Growing
Progress of the Season
March may have come in like a lambkin but she can still go out like a lioness. Frost is not unheard the first week in March. While keeping some of our guard up for cold, we should take advantage of the early start to the growing season that the marvelously warm weather of February has delivered. Vandas in particular are delighting in the record high temperatures and the sharp drop in night temperatures that the dry air of February has provided. They are growing and blowing, give them plenty of water and fertilizer.
Cattleyas, dendrobiums, and other sympodial orchids are also starting to break early growth. Water them carefully as days are still fairly short and drying will be slower in the afternoon. Watering early in the day and giving them a thorough soaking with two or more applications shaped a few minutes apart is de rigor. Catasetums also will be breaking new growth and roots. Let those roots stretch out a couple of inches before you give them their first drink. When potting catasetums up remember that they are very heavy feeders and a layer of time release fertilizer mid-way in the pot and then another on top will produce amazingly large bulbs.
Now is the moment to apply 6 month duration time release fertilizer to most everything. Use Nutricote, sold under the brand name Dynamite, and look for one with a low middle number.
With temperatures in the high 80’s, and the landscape roundabout dry as a bone, Thrips will be seeking the moist oasis of our orchid collections. With temperatures as high as we are currently experiencing, the use of oil is now precluded. Soap, liquid dishwashing, at 2 oz per gal is still available as a user-friendly control. Soap is dehydrating, so be sure to water thoroughly the day before you apply it. Soap also controls mites which thrive in hot dry conditions. A second application in 7-10 days will give good control of mites. Other control methods for both pests can be found in Fla. Orchid Growing.
Enjoy the delicious weather with your plants and remember it is not too late to plant some tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes in particular will persist well into the summer.
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
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
Whilst March never comes in like a lion in South Florida, occasionally it slinks in like a bob cat. Frost is not unheard of in the first few days of the month. The more cold sensitive genera, hard cane dendrobiums, phalaenopsis and vandas may well need some protection even into the middle of the month. Overall, however, March brings us some of the most ideal orchid growing conditions... read entire article
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 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 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
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
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 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 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, alternating
periods of warmer and cooler... continue reading
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 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