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Monthly Orchid TipWinter Care of Orchids
Orchid plants which live in the Northern or middle parts of the USA or Canada need to heed this advice. This is regardless if the orchids are living either indoors or outside.
We are primarily going to talk about the lighting, watering and temperature changes that will affect the growing orchids. During the winter season we adults feel the effects of less light and cooler temps giving rise to feeling lethargic or lazy.
Just like humans orchid plants will also be effected. Orchids need a certain amount of light and temperature to grow normally and the winter season can change that. A significant number of plants will have this as a normal period of dormancy or rest needed to get ready for the next budding period.
What about the natural light for the winter care of orchid plants? The days are shorter and the nights longer so plants that need moderate to high light intensity may get short changed. This means that orchid plants like cattleya, epidendrum, dendrobium and oncidium may possibly need some artificial light. The high light intensity orchids need about 12 to 14 hours of light during their growing season and less than that puts them at a disadvantage for generating buds and blooms.
It is only in the extreme northern US latitudes that we don't find at least 14 hours of daylight. The intensity of the light may be diminished because the sun is lower in the atmosphere during the winter.
So if your plant needs more light you may need to move them from an area of where they used to get bright diffused light to a sunnier area of the home. The use of grow lights is not out of the question either especially for those plants requiring high light intensity like oncidums and some phals. Lighting is an important aspect of winter care of orchid plants and if the plants do not get enough they will not bud.
Let's change our attention to watering. The winter care of orchid plants usually means less watering because there is a needed period of rest. Instead of watering twice a week try watering once a week or instead of watering once a week we need to do it every 10 to 14 days.
Now this changes if your home has low humidity, in this case you will need to water more often. The normal humidity that orchid plants love is between 40 - 60%. Most homes have about 20 -30 % humidity, especially if your heat is hot air. If your home does not the right humidity the use of humidity trays will be helpful. These are metal or plastic trays that are filled with pebbles and then add about 1/2 the height with water. Temperature The winter care of orchid plants cannot be complete without mention of the required temperature. Since most orchids need temps between 55 - 80 degrees F, the plants in the middle and northern US need to come indoors. There are certain things we need to bear in mind. Normal home temps are usually good for orchid plants but we need to consider that if we keep our home temps low due to the high heating bills we may need to add some warmth during the day to the plants. It is not good to keep them at a constant 60 -65 degrees, they do need times with temps higher.
Be careful of the setting as well, a window sill in the day time may be wonderful for the plants but at night it may get too cool. In order to protect the plants use a curtain as a barrier to the cold. On the other hand the window sill can also burn plants if it gets too hot. By the way this damage also occurs with lack of water and over heating of the orchid plant.
The most common signs of cold injury include injury to the plant leafs which can be seen as pitting marks, large sunken areas or the eventual discoloration which can lead to a brown leaf. The amount of damage varies considerably with the cold injury. If a plant is frozen you will notice this rather fast after thawing. The dead spots on the leaves as well as the flowers and buds is easily noticeable.
Just a quick word about fertilizing, as this period is usually one of resting the need for fertilizer diminishes as well. You should stretch out the fertilizing to be twice as long as you would during the summer. For example if your routine for fertilizing was once a week in the summer than the winter care of orchid plants says that it now should be once every two to three weeks.
Orchid Picture of the MonthAnother beautiful cattleya hybrid. Enjoy!
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