Orchid Culture - Motes Notes
by Dr. Martin Motes, from his monthly newsletter and book Florida Orchid Growing

Donate to St. Augustine Orchid Society
If you like what you see, feel free to leave a donation; just click on the Tip Jar. Thank you!
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.
 

Progress of the Season

    A mostly pleasant December. This December was drier and warmer than usual. Both the extra heat and the drought were welcome. Our vandas relished the higher temperatures and were able to continue growing new leaves, the axials of which will offer up additional flower spikes in due time. The extra dryness allowed our plants to get a leg up on their mortal enemy, fungus, at the end of a wet year. Those of us who applied an extra dose of the fungicides recommended in Fla. Orchid Growing find ourselves happily in control of the persistent fungus that has characterized this wet year. Careful watering will now get us home and dry.
    Very cold for a few days. The most notable weather phenomenon of this December were the three days where temperature remained continuously in the forties and fifties, cold enough but not punishingly so for most all our orchids. This spell of moderately cold temperature, so different from the typical wider swing of day to night temperatures that usually follow a passing cold front, has yielded up the largest number of chill portions that we have seen in many years. Chill portions are units of time within specific temperature ranges which strongly influence flowering patterns of plants.
    Silver Linings. What these abundant chill portions abode is very good news for our spring blooming Himalayan dendrobiums of sections Dendrobium (Nobile types) and Callista (lindleyi, farmerii et al). They should be spectacular this year. Although our northern friends are likely to continue to be battered, the huge continent spanning cold fronts that are characterizing this winter, likely will arrive in South Florida tempered by the warm waters of both the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. If your vandas are still producing new root tips, continue to give them plenty of water and fertilizer. The more vandas grow, the more flowers they will produce. Sympodial orchids, which are not in active growth should have fertilizer withheld and should be watered with care, sparingly.
    Have a Wonderful New Year. One drawback of the extra warmth is that snails and slugs which usually take the winter off are still hard at work. Remember, always apply snail bait very lightly with the smallest pellets spread a foot or so apart. Days are also warm enough to rouse Thrips from dormancy. Scout for them. Use the techniques elucidated in Fla. Vanda Growing to control them. As we continue to receive more days with glorious warmth and bright light than we perhaps deserve (or at could reasonably expect), We are reminded why we live in South Florida. Enjoy a wonderful New Year.
 
 

January in Your Orchid Collection

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

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

March in Your Orchid Collection

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
 
 
April in Your Orchid Collection

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 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 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

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

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 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 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, alternating periods of warmer and cooler... continue reading
 
 
November in Your Orchid Collection

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 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