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September 2013 Fall 2013 Orchid Newsletter
October 18, 2013
Fall Orchid Tips
October 2013 Orchidaceae Newsletter
I hope that for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere that the move to fall weather is as wonderful as it is here in the beautiful Napa Valley.
Here the wine grape harvest is winding down. We grow Pinot noir grapes and our vineyard was harvested a month ago. So now I have time to think about orchids again!
I did promise to make a very good effort to get out a monthly newsletter.
I would like to thank those of you who wrote in with suggestions about what you would like to see in the newsletter. Mostly people wanted orchid care advice, orchid care tips and what to do at various times of the year.
So I am going to focus this newsletter on fall orchid care.
I would also like to thank all of you that took me up on the $1.99 offer of my little ebook. It was fun to see the response. I have yet list it on Kindle as the grape harvest distracted me. But I will be doing so soon.
If anyone of my subscribers still wants a copy, I will sell it to you for the Kindle price of $4.97. But once I do post it on Kindle I will not be able to sell it for at least 90 days and possibly more. Just contact me via the website. I have received some very nice feedback from some of you who were kind enough to let me know what you think.
I did send out a second newsletter regarding a local (to Northern California) orchid show, "Orchids in the Park". It was held in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco in the end of September. And yes, I did buy orchids. Not a lot, but I bought some Cattleya miniatures and a couple of species orchids.
By the way, if any of you are into species orchids, I am good friends with one of the best species orchid growers in the US. If you are looking for something just let me know. He and I got a little chance to hang out in San Francisco after the show. I love species orchids. . . but that is for another newsletter.
Picture of the Month
Blc.Sun Yuan Ruby 'Crowned Dragon'
A beautiful rescued and re-bloomed Blc. AND it is incredibly fragrant too with interesting cinnamon and spicy notes.
Fall is a big transition time for most plants and orchids are no exception.
The temperatures fall, both in day and at night and the day length shortens each day as we move from the fall equinox to the winter solstice (the day when the day length is shortest.) If you had orchids outside, if your environment supports such a thing, it is time to reconsider what these orchids will need in terms of temperature and water and humidity in the fall and winter months.
In tropical environments where orchids are endemic, orchids of many kinds are outdoor plants. But where I live in the Napa Valley in California the only orchids I leave outside all year are Cymbidiums and the Chinese ground orchids. Many Cymbidiums are quite cold hardy, handling temperatures down to around 28 F (-2 C.). And the Chinese ground orchids (lovely easy orchids, by the way) are terrestrial orchids. Some folks will leave Oncidiums on a porch for the spring and summer months, but now is the time to bring them in if you grow indoors. Of course if you have a temperature controlled greenhouse that is another thing entirely.
Flower Spike Initiation
Several factors of the cooler fall weather affect orchids. The cool nighttime temperatures trigger blooming and the initiation of the inflorescences in many popular orchids. Examples of this are Paphiopedilums, the autumn flowering Cattleyas and the popular Phalaenopsis hybrids.
Many orchids spikes initiate in the fall. This is most certainly true for Phalaenopsis, the moth orchids and the cooler temperatures signal Cymbidiums to began to spike as well. So keep an eye out for spikes on these genera. Cymbidiums are more obvious and easier to tell a spike from a leaf. With Phalaenopsis it is a little harder. Sometimes roots in the very early stages can look like a flower spike as they can both initiate from below the crown of the plant. One little trick is to look at the tip. If it kind of looks like a little mitten more than being just pointed on the end, it is probably a beginning flower spike.
It is thought that this time of reduced temperatures and photoperiod during the month of October is pretty critical to re-blooming success with Phalaenopsis. A dip in night temperatures into the mid 50 F. (13 C.) is said to greatly enhance the chance the possibility of re-blooming. Sometimes, in a home environment this can be harder to achieve. Some people will put their orchids in a cooler garage or porch at night for a couple of weeks to reach this temperature differential. But you need to be careful and know what your weather situation is as if really cold temperatures or frost is even close to a possibility your area it would not be a good idea to expose them to those temperatures. It is also imperative that the plant surfaces be dry by nightfall when the plants are exposed to these cooler temperatures or you can risk the plants getting crown rot.
Winter Rest Time
The cool nocturnal temperatures of October also signal many plants to begin their winter rest. Many orchids slow down this time of year and are going to rest or sleep for the rest of the year.
This is particularly true of the deciduous orchids like the cane type dendrobiums, catasetums, lycastes. These orchids lose their leaves completely and go into a winter rest. In response to this, now is the time to start watering less and fertilizing less. It is possible to do serious, irreparable damage to some orchids by overwatering when plants are in dormancy. Plants that needed a soaking two or three times a week in the heat of the summer will need a lot less in the fall and winter months, or maybe nothing at all. Study the kind of plants you have and grow them accordingly.
Some popular orchids like the Australian dendrobiums such as Dendrobium kingianum or Dendrobium speciosum need water to be entirely withheld during this period of winter rest. I do very minimal fertilizing, if any in the winter for most of the plants that I grow.
I don't want to make this newsletter too long so I just have two more remarks regarding getting ready for the colder and darker months.
Other Things To Consider
Think about where your orchids are relative to the changing light. What was enough in the summer may not be enough now. And the converse can be true. Depending on the window direction it may be beneficial to move orchids either closer to a window for more light or away so that they do not get too much. Be attentive to temperature as well. Orchids closer to a window in the cooler months can be significantly different and often cooler temperature than the bulk of your home. The same with respect to heat. Many of our homes have dry winter heat. Make sure that your orchids are not near a heater vent or a wood stove where it is significantly warmer than the rest of your home. It is also important to think about increased humidity when it is colder in our homes and we are using all kinds of heaters and stoves to keep our homes cozy.
Humidity. What a great topic. Maybe in an upcoming newsletter I will write about various ways to get enough humidity especially in your home orchid growing environment.
All the best till next time,
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