Sep 012010

by Susan Taylor
Originally published in BellaOnline

Water and fertilizer requirements change – As cooler weather slows growth on your plants both water and fertilizer requirements change. Watch temperatures carefully and tailor your watering to the needs of the plants, rather than to a rigid schedule which worked during the hotter summer months.

Watch the changing light conditions – Spring and fall are times when you need to pay particular attention to changing light conditions. As the sun moves, the light conditions on both your indoor and outdoor orchids are also changing. Make sure that low light plants are not suddenly in a hot spot of sun. High light plants should be watched for too much shade. Mid-fall is the time to remove shade cloth from greenhouses and extra shading from windows.

Prepare to bring plants inside – If you’ve been lucky enough to be able to summer your plants outside, start preparing them for the move back inside. Check for insects in the media by dunking in a pail of water to force the insects out and kill any that you find. Roaches love to live in orchid mix and will eat roots while they are there. Clean and cut back old growth so that when a sudden weather change comes you can easily move your plants inside.

Clean up your indoor growing area – Prepare your greenhouse or indoor area for your plants. Clean any areas and straighten up supplies. This is easier to do when you have fewer plants in the space. Are you planning to add humidity trays or fans for this growing season? Go ahead and order the items and install them so that your plants will have the best conditions you can supply.

Check your orchid labels – As you are checking your plants, make sure that the labels are clear and readable. It normally only takes about three years for the labels to deteriorate — less time if they are of poor quality. Use heavy labels and an indelible marker to clearly identify your plants. Even if you have only a few plants it is important to know what they are so that you can give them the proper conditions to grow and bloom.

Phals need a cooling period – Fall is the time to move your Phals to a cool spot, around 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit or 10-15 degrees centigrade at night, until you see inflorescences starting at the base of the plant. When the growths are about 2 inch or 5 centimetres long, the plants can be moved back to their normal growing conditions and the spike will continue to grow.

Oct 012009

by Susan Taylor
Originally published in BellaOnline

Fall is a good time to repot those orchids which have already bloomed and are going into a rest period or growing pseudobulbs which will mature over the winter. With cooler weather the transplanting process will be easier to bear. Some of the varieties to repot are Doritis, Doritaneopsis and Encyclia as well as Phal seedlings.

Move Your Phals to a Cool Spot at Night
Fall is the time to move your Phals to a cool spot, around 60 degrees Fahrenheit or 15 Centigrade at night, until you see inflorescences starting at the base of the plant. When the growths are about 2 inch or 5 centimeters long, the plants can be moved back to their normal warmer conditions. Stake the inflorescence beginning at about 6 inches or 15 centimeters and make sure that you keep the plant positioned the same direction in relationship to the light for best presentation of flowers.

Move Plants Inside
Prepare all your plants for moving into warmer conditions before the first cold front arrives. Check them for insects in the pots, clean up dried out sheaths where bugs might hide and even start moving some of the tender plants inside as night time temperatures cool. Then you will ready for that first really cold weather and only have a few plants to take care of at the last minute.

Water and Fertilizer Requirements Change
Fall is a time when you will need to adjustyour watering and fertilizing schedules to accommodate the variable weather conditions. As the temperatures cool your plants will use less water and start slowing on their growth, so will need less fertilizer. Generally I keep with my same fertilizing schedule of every other watering throughout the year. But in fall that watering goes from twice a week to every five days and then to once a week in winter.

Keep Your Air Circulation Going
It is especially important during the fall and winter months to keep air circulation going especially in a greenhouse or enclosed growing space. Mold, mildew and insects thrive in stagnant conditions and will cause many problems without proper air circulation.

Light Requirements are Changing
Fall brings changes in light conditions for inside and outside growers. Make sure your plants are getting enough light with the changing conditions or move them around if you are removing shading used during the hot summer months. Leaves on orchids can burn if they get too much direct sunlight.

Sep 012009

by Liese

Even though it’s early September, fall seems to be in the air. The days are slowly getting shorter, the nights cooler, and some trees are even beginning to lose their leaves. The kids are back in school and our summer “routines” must change.

Most of us are creatures of habit. Watering our plants every Saturday morning and fertilizing once-a-month, whatever it may be. What one must remember is that as the seasons change, the climate conditions change, thus, the care of your orchids must also change.

Fall brings shorter days, cooler nights, and lower light intensities. These conditions are necessary to push many orchids into spike. However, the care we give them must change slightly to accommodate the new season. During the fall and winter months, the plant growth of orchids slows down and, in some cases, stops entirely until spring. Because of this, we usually cut back of our watering and fertilizing. It is good to switch foods to a blossom booster formula during the fall and winter. Blossom booster cuts back on the nitrogen and pumps up the phosphate, a combination that encourages blooming. With the lower light during these months the orchids simply do not use up as much food, so make sure to reduce your fertilizing frequency and/or switch to a blossom booster.

The plants also do not use up as much water during the fall/winter months. You will want to water your plants thoroughly as usual. However, due to the darker, cooler days, it may take longer for your plants to dry out. The best thing to do is to evaluate and change your orchid care as the seasons change. Be aware of the plant growth and moisture content. Don’t get caught up in too much of a “routine” of caring for your orchids. Learn to study the plant and decide on it’s specific needs for that week, month and season.