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.